Microsoft Hones Storage Agenda

The software giant, which recently established a new Enterprise Storage Division, said it must integrate storage capabilities into its .Net servers to compete on the corporate enterprise landscape against IBM and other enterprise-focused companies.

The primary goal is to improve the storage management features in Windows and its applications, company executives said.

Windows.Net, the first major upgrade of Windows 2000 server, will integrate Volume ShadowCopy Service, a mirrored data service; and virtual disk services, which allow RAID storage configuration from within the operating system, according to Microsoft. The server also is expected to include "time-warping" features that let solution providers go back in time to capture data at specific points. In addition, the operating system will evolve to support the management of multiple storage systems, the company said.

Channel partners see Microsoft's enterprise storage efforts as a necessary step toward advancing its enterprise agenda, and see big opportunities for large systems integrators, service providers and solution providers moving to the .Net model.

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"We see .Net services as very interesting building blocks that will greatly increase the value that network-based hosted applications can deliver," said Jason Donahue, president and CEO of Telecomputing, Fort Lauderdale, Fla., which offers private-label technology to service providers that host applications.

Alan Weinberger, group chairman and CEO of the ASCII Group, Washington, said the storage software efforts will benefit channel partners. "It is smart for Microsoft to go in that direction, since it will greatly expand the implementation of their clustering technology activities and add new value to all networks using their operating system," he said.

The company also plans to support iSCSI, the emerging Internet storage networking protocol for the SAN market, and will integrate front-end applications such as the Windows file system and Exchange to work transparently with leading NAS and SAN devices.