REDMOND, Wash., Oct. 25, 2005 – Since its Enterprise Storage Division was established in 2003, Microsoft has been committed to helping customers improve their ability to hold, protect and retrieve digital data storage at a lower Total Cost of Ownership (TCO). By focusing on three primary goals – making Microsoft Windows the best storage platform; creating a strong partner ecosystem, and introducing new storage-specific products and solutions – significant progress has been made in addressing IT challenges.
Managing storage is at the top of the list of IT managers’ pain points, according to a survey in CRN magazine. “Storage should be simple,” says Rich Baldwin, president and CEO, Nth Generation Computing, Inc. of San Diego, a QLogic partner. “Figure out how much you need and plug it in. It should be able to pretty much manage itself. But too often, it’s really tough, requiring a lot of training and trial and error.”
Responding to customer needs, Microsoft has outlined its Universal Distributed Storage vision, which is about mainstreaming high-end functionality to deliver storage solutions that are built on industry-standard hardware and offered via a multitude of partners in order to lower TCO. Microsoft is working to ensure that Windows manages distributed data storage more cost-effectively than any other platform, irrespective of where the data is – on a server or remote worker’s desktop, centralized or spread across branch offices, on Storage Area Networks (SANs) or Network Attached Storage (NAS).
“We’re excited about the progress made in delivering on our promise of reducing storage costs,” says Bob Muglia, senior vice president of the Windows Server Division at Microsoft. “We’ve added compelling storage functionalities in the platform and released products such as Windows Storage Server 2003 and Microsoft System Center Data Protection Manager. Most importantly, thanks to our partners, customers have a broad choice of storage solutions that are built on the Windows platform. Looking ahead, we have a healthy pipeline of products, including Windows Server 2003 R2 and Windows Storage Server 2003 R2, that will take us further toward achieving our Universal Distributed Storage vision. ”
Bob Muglia, Senior Vice President, Microsoft Windows Server Division
Two announcements on milestones in Microsoft’s progress in storage technology, pertaining to the Microsoft Simple SAN for Windows Server Program and a joint marketing effort between Microsoft and PolyServe, are being made this week at the Storage Networking World conference, a gathering of IT managers, storage architects and infrastructure professionals in Orlando, Fla., October 24-26.
Simplifying SANs for Better Storage Utilization
Large enterprises have long benefited from SAN technologies, in which storage is uncoupled from servers and attached directly to the network. By sharing storage on the network, SANs enable highly scalable and flexible storage resource allocation, high efficiency backup solutions and better storage utilization.
But SANs have been difficult to deploy and maintain. Complexity has been a big factor in their high cost and has made them impractical for smaller organizations.
Microsoft is making SANs simpler by leading the industry in shipping technology designed to make it easier to configure and manage this storage option. The forthcoming Windows Server 2003 R2, for example will include a SAN-provisioning application called Storage Manager for SANs. Through its industry-wide Microsoft Simple SAN for Windows Server Program, Microsoft is working with its storage partners to help drive the creation of simple SAN solutions for Windows Server 2003 users for all levels of companies.
“We’ve been doing SANs for six, seven years now,” says Baldwin. “Back in the early days it seemed like no two deployments were alike. You could never get the same results. It’s gotten so much easier in just the last year. Now it’s almost like SAN-in-a-box – plug it in and go to work. This is big step in the right direction. It’s going to make SANs the standard way people do storage in any kind of computer environment.”
Partners Receive Simple SAN Designation
Industry partners who have just received the Microsoft Simple SAN for Windows Server designation are Brocade, Emulex, EqualLogic, Hitachi Data Systems and String Bean Software, while QLogic’s designation was announced last month. These partners are collaborating with Microsoft to advance SAN simplification for users of Windows Server 2003 by ensuring interoperability with the storage capabilities in the Windows platform; working with storage system vendors to simplify hardware setup; and by helping customers to make informed decisions about SAN purchases.
“We think the Simple SAN Program is a great initiative,” says John Dodge, a solutions architect at Foedus, a solution provider in Portsmouth, N.H. that is an EqualLogic partner. “It makes it easier for our clients because it’s so much easier for us to implement SANs now. This technology is now more accessible to smaller size businesses. You don’t have to be a Fortune 100 company to have a sophisticated storage solution anymore. An easy to use SAN can now be the cornerstone of any business’ data center. And with a strong foundation, you can build a very rich and stable environment.”
HP is among other industry partners working to meet the requirements of Simple SAN. “HP and Microsoft share a common goal to make networked storage simpler, more affordable and thereby more accessible to a broader set of customers,” says Kyle Fitze, director of marketing, StorageWorks SAN Division, HP. “That’s why we’re proud to be at the forefront of Microsoft’s Simple SAN for Windows Server Program with a broad portfolio of HP StorageWorks products. Together with Microsoft we are able to bring networked storage solutions to customers of all sizes.”
Customers praise the benefits of the Simple SAN Program. “The ease of operation is outstanding,” says Bruce Crowell, vice president, Information Technology for New Alliance Bank of Manchester, Conn. The bank recently deployed an EqualLogic solution to upgrade disaster recovery capabilities, support a merger with another bank and consolidate IT operations. “You don’t have to be an expert. If you know your machines and you know networking, you can set up a Simple SAN.”
Joint Marketing to Bring Enterprise-class NAS Solutions to Market
Also new on the storage technology front is Microsoft’s joint marketing effort with PolyServe to bring highly scalable Windows-based Network Attached Storage clustered file solutions to market. This effort is aimed at simplifying file server consolidation, which remains a key area where cost reductions can be achieved in today’s IT environments.
PolyServe Matrix Server is leading shared-data-clustering software for Windows Storage Server 2003, which enables multiple Windows-based NAS and servers to function as a single, easy-to-use, highly available system. It comprises a true symmetric cluster file system (CFS) that enables scalable data sharing, high availability services that increase system uptime and cluster and storage management capabilities for managing servers and storage as one. Combining Windows Storage Server 2003 with Matrix Server gives customers better scalability and flexibility for their file serving environments compared to traditional stand alone appliances that are often limited to two nodes. The solutions enabled by the Windows Storage Server 2003-PolyServe Matrix Server combination provide better modularity and freedom from proprietary hardware that is typical of stand alone appliances.
An early beneficiary of the partnership between Microsoft and PolyServe is Fidelity Investments. PolyServe deployed data-clustering software to leverage Cincinnati-based Fidelity’s existing storage, file servers, systems-management software, virus-checking software and IT processes. Goals of the project were to consolidate file servers by 25 to 40 percent; reduce downtime for user file shares to zero; decrease file server administration workloads by 70 percent; and decrease back up jobs by 90 percent.
“We are confident that PolyServe can deliver superior file serving performance by leveraging our industry-standard server, storage and systems management infrastructure and will do so in a more cost efficient manner than traditional file serving appliances,” says Emilio Marianelli, executive vice president at Fidelity Investments. “Their plug-and-play compatibility with our general-purpose computing environment will help us to consolidate our Windows file servers while continuing to meet demanding service level agreements.”
Under the new arrangement, PolyServe will make available a file server consolidation assessment tool and consulting and implementation services. More information on the Microsoft-PolyServe joint marketing effort is available at http://www.polyserve.com/consolidate.
Noteworthy Achievements in Storage
Evidence of Microsoft’s momentum in the storage space is reflected in measurements made by a number of technology-sector analysts, ongoing partnerships and initiatives in the past year. These include:
In IDC’s most recent disk storage systems annual report, Windows represented the No. 1 operating system attached to both internal and external storage in terms of capacity and revenue in 2004. (Source: IDC, worldwide disk storage systems 2005-2009 forecast and analysis: virtualization, regulatory compliance and cost-optimized storage-pillars for future growth, #33477, June 2005).
Windows surpassed UNIX in 2004 as the leading operating system attached to external disk storage systems in terms of terabytes shipped. (Source: IDC, worldwide disk storage systems 2005-2009 forecast and analysis: virtualization, regulatory compliance and cost-optimized storage-pillars for future growth, #33477, June 2005.)
Windows Storage Server 2003 and partner solutions swept the NAS category of the “Readers Choice Awards” of Windows IT Pro Magazine.
Windows Storage Server-based NAS appliances achieved almost 53- percent market share in 2004 unit shipments of the NAS and Unified storage within the price range of US$500 to $100,000. (Forecast: NAS and Unified Storage, Worldwide, 2003-2008 Update, Feb. 4, 2005, Pushan Rinnen, Gartner.)
Industry partners have introduced a multitude of solutions based on platform features of Windows Server 2003. Independent Software Vendor (ISV) solutions built on the Windows platform span Storage Management, Disaster Recovery, Business Continuity and Storage Security.
Over 100 devices based on Windows Storage Server are available from Dell, HP, Quantum, Iomega, Fujistu Siemens and other original equipment manufacturers (OEMs). More than 50 OEM partners market Windows Storage Server based NAS devices.
Microsoft System Center Data Protection Manager, a server software application that optimizes disk-based backup and recovery, was released in September 2005
New versions of Virtual Disk Service (adding support for iSCSI), an iSCSI software initiator with built-in support for Microsoft MPIO and a new volume revert solution for Volume Shadow Copy Service were released.
A beta version of Windows Storage Server 2003 R2, the next version of the Microsoft NAS operating system, was released.
A Release Candidate version of Windows Server 2003 R2, which includes storage and branch management features, was released.
Microsoft, together with partners Brocade, Network Engines and Tacit Networks, announced intent to build Branch Office Appliances that will deliver cost-effective, simplified file, Web cache and storage capabilities.
Microsoft released Branch Office Infrastructure Solution (BOIS), a set of prescriptive architectural guidance that helps customers and system integrators design, deploy and maintain Windows Server-based technologies in their remote office infrastructure.