Storage UPDATE—July 21, 2003
Commentary: Windows Storage Server 2003, Part 4
by Mark Smith, email@example.com
My previous three commentaries described the features, functionality, and
common uses for Windows Storage Server 2003, Microsoft's optimized file server.
Common uses I described included file serving, file server consolidation,
Storage Area Network (SAN) integration, and backup and recovery. I want to
explore a few more uses for Windows Storage Server and investigate its future
and impact on the storage market.
This September, Microsoft's hardware partners will begin releasing Windows
Storage Server-based Network Attached Storage (NAS) devices. One partner,
Iomega, will introduce two models, 205 (160GB) and 305 (240GB), whose prices
will start at less than $1000. Either Iomega model could serve as a small
business server for a company with fewer than 10 employees and could incorporate
today's most popular small business applications such as Intuit's QuickBooks Pro
financial software and Microsoft Office 2003. The business could connect various
desktops to the server through a Wi-Fi network and could sign with a reputable
ISP that provides a T1 line for fixed-price phone services, high-speed Internet
connections, and Web and email hosting services. This setup should cost well
under $5000. And, because you can remotely manage Windows Storage Server across
the Internet, a consultant could easily support this configuration for a small
business that doesn't have on-staff IT personnel.
As I mentioned in my July 9 commentary, I believe that Windows Storage
Server-based NAS devices will serve as front-end gateways to SANs. You can use
Windows Storage Server's Volume Shadow Copy Service (VSS) and Virtual Disk
Service (VDS) features to control the underlying functionality of a SAN.
DataCore's SANsymphony uses VSS and VDS to enable Windows Storage Server to
invoke storage configuration, space allocation, and data replication services on
a wide variety of SAN devices. Such capabilities let Windows systems
administrators use an OS they understand instead of learning a new proprietary
OS to run a SAN. If systems administrators can take advantage of SAN features
(e.g., dynamic allocation of storage, LUN maintenance, hardware replication,
snapshot management) from a Windows Storage Server-based NAS device, they're
more likely to adopt the new NAS-and-SAN-fusion storage solutions.
According to IDC, Microsoft Windows Powered NAS (WPNAS) devices have garnered 41
percent of the market share for NAS units shipped. That figure is up 8 percent
from the previous quarter If this trend continues, Windows Storage Server-based
NAS devices will gain the majority market share in the next quarter. Four
primary user decision factors are price, partner reputations, administrators'
comfort with Windows Storage Server, and ease of use. If Windows administrators
can buy a competitively priced NAS device from a major IT manufacturer (e.g.,
Dell, IBM, Iomega, Hewlett-Packard--HP) that uses a standard Windows Server OS
(i.e., Windows Storage Server) and has a feature set that rivals its
competitors, those Windows administrators will likely buy Windows Storage
Server-based devices rather than proprietary OS devices. Microsoft's hardware
partners will match prices with non-Windows-based NAS devices and win sales. In
time, Windows Storage Server will be able to control most SAN functionality
through VDS and VSS, making it easier for Windows administrators to take
advantage of sophisticated storage features without having to learn a
proprietary SAN OS. I plan to follow Windows Storage Server's progress to see
whether it lives up to its potential impact on the storage market.
Copyright 2003, Penton Media, Inc.