Microsoft To Pump Up Windows With NAS, SAN Support

The Redmond, Wash.-based company said it plans to release a Feature Pack in the next couple of months that allows database and log file data from Exchange Server to be stored on NAS appliances based on its Windows Storage Server 2003 NAS operating system, said Marcus Schmidt, Microsoft's senior product manager for the operating system.

The move follows Microsoft's reinstatement of NAS support for Exchange in January, Schmidt said. "When the company moved to Windows 2000, we said Exchange could only be supported on a SAN or via direct-attach," he said. "[But] the new version of Exchange that just came out supports NAS and SCSI."


Microsoft's Claude Lorenson says new tools ease Fibre Channel SAN maintenance.

Microsoft also unveiled tools to ease the deployment and maintenance of Fibre Channel SANs under Windows Server 2003, said Claude Lorenson, technical product manager for storage technology at the company.

One of these products, the Fibre Channel Information Tool, is a SAN discovery tool that looks at various parts of a multivendor SAN to gather information on firmware revisions, drivers, worldwide port names and statistics to aid storage administrators in troubleshooting deployments and addressing other problems, he said.

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The tool is expected to be available for free download starting in May.

Microsoft said the coming release of Service Pack 1 for Windows Server 2003 will also include its Storage Event Tracing Tool, which monitors and records events within a SAN. Also slated for Service Pack 1 is improved storage media support.

The new storage capabilities for the Windows operating system are specific value-add features and not offered to compete with storage management ISVs, Lorenson said.

"Most storage ISVs have much more rich offerings, such as charge-back capabilities and the ability to set policies," he said.

Microsoft's moves show the company is serious about supporting storage in its Windows platform, especially for smaller customers, said Pat Edwards, vice president of sales at solution provider Alliance Technology Group, Hanover, Md.

While SANs are still mainly deployed in enterprise accounts, they are definitely starting to show up in smaller accounts, Edwards said.