Microsoft Makes Storage Moves

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Microsoft made a couple of big moves in the storage space on Friday, deepening its partnership with EMC and acquiring iSCSI technology from String Bean Software.

Microsoft acquired the WinTarget technology from String Bean Software of Montgomery Village, Md. WinTarget is an Internet Small Computer System Interface (iSCSI) storage area networking (SAN) solution designed and optimized for the Windows platform. Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

Microsoft has until now focused on delivering iSCSI initiator technology. The WinTarget acquisition adds target technology to the mix to allow customers to build complete IP SAN solutions.

“In the last few quarters, the demand for iSCSI has been growing,” said Claude Lorenson, Microsoft’s group product manager for the Windows Server Division.

The WinTarget acquisition is a response to “loud and clear” demand from customers for iSCSI target technology, Lorenson said.

Lorenson said the move doesn’t mean that Microsoft favors iSCSI over other storage protocols such as Fibre Channel or NAS, both of which the company also supports. “We fully support all storage protocols,” he said.

Microsoft will not sell WinTarget as a stand-alone solution, but will release the WinTarget technology with Windows Storage Server 2003 R2, which is expected to begin shipping in April. WinTarget will be offered as an add-on feature, likely beginning in the summer, Lorenson said.

Microsoft said WinTarget “is a cost-effective scalable solution designed to enable customers to quickly install and configure a full-featured storage solution.” The acquisition “is a natural expansion of Microsoft’s Windows Storage Server product line and represents the company’s commitment to work with a broad partner ecosystem to bring highly functional storage solutions built on industry-standard hardware to the mainstream.”

The technology can help companies maximize existing storage technology investments “by simply integrating iSCSI to meet scalability demands in organizations of all sizes,” Microsoft said.

String Bean Software is not transferring any of its customer or channel agreements to Microsoft, but Microsoft will help meet support obligations to customers who are within their initial support period.

Redmond, Hopkinton Get Closer

Microsoft and EMC also deepened their storage alliance, building on EMC’s acquisition of Microsoft services firm Internosis earlier this year.

EMC and Microsoft said they plan a “significant expansion of their alliance to further simplify the delivery of information lifecycle management (ILM) solutions for Microsoft application environments.”

The joint solution delivery and sales agreement is aimed at accelerating customer adoption and simplifying deployment of Microsoft’s Exchange Server 2003 and SQL Server 2005 Enterprise Edition. The two also plan a worldwide network of partner account managers to drive joint engagement and solution delivery, and they also plan “an ongoing portfolio of joint solutions.”

The alliance will start with a focus on Exchange and SQL Server upgrade and deployment and Lotus Notes to Exchange migration.

The two will work on enhancing the Exchange Server 2003 collaboration architecture and accelerating the implementation and upgrade process. An optimized information infrastructure with a centralized e-mail operation will let customers back up and rapidly restore Exchange Server information for disaster recovery, archiving and compliance.

Another aspect of the alliance will deliver database design and implementation services to streamline customer upgrades and new deployments of SQL Server 2005, optimizing information infrastructures for scalability, performance and availability.

Migration assessment, design and implementation services will help Lotus Notes customers migrate to Exchange Server 2003 on an optimized EMC information infrastructure.

“Customers are asking for complete, more integrated solutions, including applications, infrastructure and services delivery expertise,” said Howard Elias, EMC’s executive vice president of global marketing and corporate development. “Our goal is to help mutual customers achieve a faster return on their IT investments with lower risk and improved access to information across their Microsoft application environments.”

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Paul Shread
Paul Shread
eSecurity Editor Paul Shread has covered nearly every aspect of enterprise technology in his 20+ years in IT journalism, including an award-winning series on software-defined data centers. He wrote a column on small business technology for, and covered financial markets for 10 years, from the dot-com boom and bust to the 2007-2009 financial crisis. He holds a market analyst certification.

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