Q&A: Charles Stevens, Microsoft Enterprise Storage


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When folks think of storage software, the first names that come to mind are likely to be VERITAS, HP, IBM, or even EMC. But Microsoft? Well, it's true. The Redmond, Wash.-based software giant has been gaining momentum in a niche of the storage software market known as NAS, or network-attached storage.

NAS is hard disk storage that is set up with its own network address rather than being attached to the department computer that is serving applications to a network's workstation users. By moving storage, which more often than not takes up a great deal of space, off of the department server and onto the local area network, applications and files can be piped from one location to the next because they are not competing for the same resources.

Microsoft specializes in delivering NAS to the low-end markets, and according to the latest figures from research firm IDC, the market share for Windows in NAS devices rose 8 percent in the first quarter to 41 percent. Not too shabby for a market that reaped $1.49 billion last year.

IDC analysts attributed the growth partly to Microsoft's warm partnership with Dell, which is enjoying its own success as it seeks to pry its way into the enterprise a bit more. On other partnership fronts, the company forged a deal with EMC in which the storage giant agreed to bundle Windows into a lower-end NAS product.

Charles Stevens, corporate vice president of Microsoft's Enterprise Storage Division (EDS) and right-hand man to division leader Bob Muglia, is responsible for sales, marketing, and product management. Previously, Stevens was vice president for the Enterprise and Partner Group, where he was responsible for Microsoft's enterprise sales and partner strategy worldwide.

He led a sales force of 6,000 people worldwide, and developed a new enterprise solution selling model, with a focus on servers and solutions. Stevens recently spoke to internetnews.com and discussed Microsoft's Enterprise Storage Division as well as overall trends in the storage market.

Q: What does this Enterprise Storage Division do? What is its purpose? What are its goals?

With the creation of ESD about eighteen months ago, Microsoft clearly signaled its commitment to the storage market. Currently, several hundred people work in the division, and we continue to grow. ESD's three primary goals are:

  • To make Windows the best possible platform for storage
  • Catalyze the industry to innovate storage technology for the benefit of customers
  • To introduce new Microsoft storage products

We have made good progress on all three fronts. With Windows Server 2003, Microsoft introduces a number of innovations to reduce the costs and complexities of storage management for customers, making it easier and more reliable to manage and maintain disks and volumes, backup and restore data, and connect to Storage Area Networks (SANs). Partnerships with over 30 partners including Dell, EMC, HP, IBM, and many others exemplify our commitment to be a leader in the storage industry. The partnerships will deliver more scalable, better-integrated network storage solutions to customers for easier storage management and improved price performance.

Customers will see a joint value proposition from our partnerships that will improve the economics of today's deployments of industry standard platforms, while creating new opportunities to address more challenging requirements. New storage elements of Windows Server 2003 also help us catalyze the industry, by providing APIs that enable ISVs and IHVs to optimize their products for Windows.

ESD's current product is Windows Powered Network Attached Storage (WPNAS). It has been in the market for over two years and is getting great traction as evidenced from our increased market share numbers. We are providing our customers with a great product with advanced features at very competitive prices. Version 3.0 of WPNAS will be released in the next 90 days. ESD is currently planning the development of additional products.

Page 2: Interview with Microsoft's Charles Stevens (Continued)

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