Windows Storage Server 2003 Launches

Microsoft on Wednesday launched Windows Storage Server 2003, a version of Windows for Network Attached Storage appliances and intended for dedicated file serving.

Windows Storage Server 2003 is the follow-on to Windows Powered NAS 2.0, which was delivered to OEMs through a server appliance kit and sold to customers as part of complete systems. Windows Storage Server 2003 will also be available exclusively as part of complete hardware-software server appliances.

The product fills a niche for highly expandable storage scenarios, with Microsoft claiming the new OS can anchor storage configurations ranging from 160 GB to 40 TB. Windows Powered NAS has been driving fast growth in the NAS market, according to IDC data.

Microsoft positions the new storage server for file serving, file server consolidation, local and remote site replication and for NAS-SAN fusion scenarios. The Windows Storage Server appliances may be appropriate for replacing general purpose Windows servers in file serving roles, Microsoft says. One of the company's reference customers is the U.S. Army Reserves 108th Division, which is consolidating file servers with INLINE FileStorm NAS devices built on the new Microsoft OS. While business applications like SQL Server and Exchange Server won't run on the new OS, applications appropriate to file-serving, such as backup, anti-virus or storage management, will be supported.

Windows Server 2003 already includes several storage enhancements, such as Volume Shadow Copy Services and the iSCSI support add-on, that are also present in Windows Storage Server 2003. But the new storage version of the OS has a few exclusive storage features that go beyond what is offered in the standard versions of Windows. The storage editions come with an advanced storage manager for file filtering and quota management, a new Network File System for improved performance on Unix and Linux file serving, and an integrated Web-based user interface for remote management.

There are two editions of Windows Storage Server 2003. An Enterprise Edition enables up-to-eight-node clustering and supports the Automated Deployment Services (ADS) add-on that Microsoft made available last week. ADS is a scriptable service for rapid deployment of large numbers of servers. Because the new storage OS is available only as part of a complete system, the choice between the editions will most likely be made by the equipment manufacturer, with the features appearing as part of the overall solution.

The storage server launch is the second major step in the Windows Server 2003 launch schedule. In April Microsoft launched six versions of Windows Server 2003. Later this month, Microsoft plans to launch two more versions in the form of two editions of Windows Server 2003 Small Business Server.

About the Author

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

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