Maxtor Picks W2K for High End NAS Appliance

Although NAS devices and other appliances are intended to be “black boxes,” devices whose inner workings are less important than their functionality, management of appliances is becoming a significant selling point. In reaction, Maxtor Corp. decided to drop BSD Unix in favor of Windows 2000 for its latest NAS Appliance.

Maxtor says that administrators will find its MaxAttach NAS 4100 appliance easier to configure and manage, especially in Windows environments. The company says administrators can install and configure a unit in less than 10 minutes. Administrators configure the devices the same way as a file-and-print server. In addition, the NAS can take advantage of other Windows 2000 features, including Active Directory.

The MaxAttach NAS 4100 is available in 160GB and 320GB configurations. Maxtor has traditionally played in a lower end of the NAS market, competing for workgroup and branch office implementations, but features on it high-end NAS suggest it is focused on moving higher in the enterprise. Both units feature a SCSI port for attaching to tape libraries for backup and recovery duties. The 320GB implementation also offers Gigabit Ethernet ports, enabling it to connect to high speed backbones or server farms.

Maxtor previously embedded the BSD (Berkeley Standard Distribution) Unix operating system in its line of NAS devices. A spokesman said that when the company began to design an appliance for higher-end, enterprise implementations, it looked at a number of operating systems, including Linux, but eventually settled on a Windows 2000 Appliance Server Kit  1.0 implementation, since it offered the best integration for its customers’ existing environments.

Microsoft Corp. is aggressive in promoting Windows 2000 as an embedded operating system, perhaps because of the Linux threat. Since Linux and BSD Unix are open source and have a modular architecture, it is simple for developers to modify the code to create stripped-down embedded operating systems. To allow OEMs the same modularity, Redmond has distributed its Appliance Server Kit. It gives OEMs the ability to select Windows 2000 a la carte. – Christopher McConnell

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About the Author

Scott Bekker is editor in chief of Redmond Channel Partner magazine.

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