Microsoft Windows Storage Server 2003 Arrives

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Microsoft today rolled out its highly-anticipated storage server to a raft of products from vendors seeking to offer their customers network-attached storage devices with software from the leading operating system maker.

Windows Storage Server 2003 is now generally available from Dell, EMC, Fujitsu Siemens Computers, HP, INLINE, Iomega, MaXXan Systems, and NEC Corp. The Redmond, Wash.-based software giant made the roll-out an event at the Storage Decisions 2003 conference in Chicago.

The product, formerly known as Windows Powered Network Attached Storage (NAS), is available in two editions. The Enterprise Edition is a file storage server geared for enterprise data centers, while the Standard Edition is a dedicated file and print server targeted for enterprise departments, branch
offices, and small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs).

The attraction of this product, vendors say, is that it integrates fairly seamlessly with their existing hardware, provides high data availability, and is priced at a low cost per gigabyte, all of which lowers total cost of ownership (TCO) — always a critical concern but even more so in the cost-cutting-intensive storage industry.

Because hardware vendors need to factor in software costs when they fix a price point for their machines, the low cost per gigabyte presents an attractive value proposition for them. This is a major reason why Microsoft leads the Windows-based NAS storage market with a 41 percent market share, according to IDC.

The server, which ranges from 160 GB to more than 40 TB of storage capacity, also boasts key features. The product employs Volume Shadow Copy Services (VSS), a feature that provides “shadow,” or point-in-time, copies of a single volume or multiple volumes. Windows Storage Server 2003 additionally offers Distributed File System (DFS), eight-node server clustering, and multipath input/output (MPIO) technology, as well as support for the iSCSI standard.

Vendors Leap at Chance to Bundle Storage OS with Their Hardware Solutions

To accompany the release, a few vendors have unveiled new solutions utilizing the storage OS. Long-time Microsoft partner HP is one of those. The Palo Alto, Calif.-based firm today unveiled the HP StorageWorks NAS 2000s, which is designed for customers with storage and server consolidation needs at the departmental or remote office level.

The 2U machine is rack-mountable and modular, and is built with HP ProLiant software and StorageWorks technologies that enable it to scale to 24 terabytes of storage in a standalone configuration.

Charles Vallhonrat, product marketing manager of NAS for HP Network Storage Solutions, says Microsoft was the logical choice for HP to turn to for such NAS software.

“[Windows Storage Server 2003] has some of the basic core things that should be in an OS,” Vallhonrat told in a recent interview. “By including virtual Shadow copy and snap-shotting and building it into the OS, it can be used in back-end storage devices. This greatly improves the flexibility of what we can offer down the road. It makes sense because it’s standard and integrates into ProLiant.”

Dell, too, has leapt into the new storage OS frenzy. The Round Rock, Texas-based company will offer Windows Storage Server 2003 on its PowerVault 770N and
775N systems for SMBs as well as departments or workgroups within larger organizations. These products also support 2.4 and 2.8GHz Intel Xeon processors with 533MHz front side bus technology.

Meanwhile, VERITAS will look to ramp up its utility computing efforts with the VERITAS Storage Replicator for Windows Storage Server 2003, which enables customers to replicate Windows-based data from remote sites to a central location without the need for remote hardware. It also allows data to be continuously available online without disrupting normal server operations.

The Mountain View, Calif.-based company has a product roadmap to support Windows Storage Server 2003 for future products as well, in part because more than 100 customers have signed up to test VERITAS products bundled with Windows Server 2003.

This story originally appeared on Internet News.

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Clint Boulton
Clint Boulton
Clint Boulton is an Enterprise Storage Forum contributor and a senior writer for covering IT leadership, the CIO role, and digital transformation.

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