You-know-who is in the storage business

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Think of a company like EMC and you tend to think of giant multiterabyte

storage systems running on a proprietary operating platform conceived

and optimized with only one thing in mind: file management. So why is

EMC - and a bunch of other storage vendors - in bed with you-know-who?

Zane Adam, director of product management and marketing in

you-know-who's Enterprise Storage Division, claims that customers are

paying way too much for big-time storage and that they also want storage

solutions that are cohesively managed with other servers running the

Windows Server platform.

Though it has happened without a lot of fanfare, you-know-who has

roughly a 40 percent market share for the operating system component of

the nearly 100, 000 NAS (network attached storage) units installed in

the past year, according to research house IDC.

Windows Storage Server 2003 is the basis of EMC's NetWin 200 entry-level

NAS solution. Essentially, it combines you know who's Windows Storage

Server 2003 OS with EMC's CLARiiON CX200 networked storage system.

(CLARiiON was inherited by EMC when it acquired the carcass of Data

General.) The result is a low-cost NAS system with up to 4TB of capacity

- all in a compact, rack-mountable package.

A key driver behind storage products built on Windows Storage Server

2003 (WSS) is affordability and a low, low, it-can't-get-much-lower cost

per megabyte. Where industrial-strength storage has hovered in the range

of 15 cents to 18 cents per MB, WSS brings it down to an astonishingly

rock-bottom 1 cent to 3 cents. That's not bad compared to the $700 I

shelled out for a 30-MB drive in the mid-1980s. And with the NetWin 200,

both server and storage resources can be managed from a single console

using the familiar Windows interface or through EMC's proprietary

ControlCenter.

According to EMC, this releationship is attractive. First, it makes NAS

affordable for businesses in the SMB market. Second, management through

the Windows interface minimizes operational overhead and training needs.

And there are plenty of features that will appeal to IT directors. One

of these is volume shadow copy services (VSS), which offers enhanced

data protection through high-fidelity backups and rapid data restores.

WSS is essentially the new Windows Server 2003 operating system stripped

of everything unrelated to file and print serving. It's you-know-who's

third stab at storage.

Though I'm singling out EMC as an example, there are plenty of others

offering network attached storage hardware or software. You might even

recognize some of the names: Computer Associates, Hewlett-Packard,

Legato, IBM, Veritas, and some others.

There's also improved Server Message Block (SMB) and Network File System

(NFS) file serving performance, multipath I/O (MPIO) support for higher

availability and load balancing, better integration with storage area

networks, Internet Small Computer System Interface (iSCSI) support to

enable connectivity to IP targets and IP SANs, and more. But I don't

want to come across as nothing more than a sales brochure.

Nothing in technology grows as fast as the need for more storage. We

live in a world that collects and keeps everything about everybody,

whether that data will ever be used or not. Other then traditional RAID

storage, there's hasn't been much to celebrate in the SMB marketplace,

and RAID is decidedly old technology. WSS comes along at a good time.

And, of course, since it's based on the new Windows Server 2003

platform, it a way to leverage upgrades of other servers and perhaps

sales of new ones.

And you thought it was impossible to write an entire column without

using the name Microsoft?

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