EMC to launch new Windows-based NAS line

EMC Corp. Monday announced licensing agreements with Microsoft Corp. that will lead to the introduction a new family of Windows-powered network-attached storage (NAS) products as well as a single management interface for both EMC and Microsoft NAS servers.

EMC said it will license Microsoft’s Windows NAS software to run on its Clariion CX series of Fibre Channel arrays. The new product line, called NetWin 200, will be available sometime in October and will initially run only on the low-end CX200 array.

The two companies also said they would exchange application programming interfaces (API) between Windows Server 2003-based NAS products used at the departmental and workgroup level with EMC’s high-end Celerra NAS product.

Bill North, a storage analyst at IDC in Framingham, Mass., said the API exchange will allow EMC and Microsoft customers to use a single console to manage low-end Windows NAS at the departmental level and high-end Celerra NAS at the enterprise level “rather than having to launch separate tools” for each.

“There’s a tremendous advantage in using integrated management tools, which is very important for the small and midrange business environment,” he said.

Along with the launch of its new Windows Server 2003 operating system last week, Microsoft added a number of new storage features, including its Virtual Disk Service, which provides storage vendors with the APIs to interoperate with the new operating system.

Microsoft also announced storage applications such as its Volume Shadow Copy Service, which allows for the creation of point-in-time copies of storage volumes, ensuring that storage administrators have access to original copies of data in case the data becomes corrupted.

In addition, Microsoft announced support for iSCSI, or the ability to back up data over IP networks to storage arrays. According to Zane Adam, Microsoft’s director of product management and marketing, the company will be offering a free download of the iSCSI software in June.

“The use of Microsoft’s storage APIs to manage capabilities like replication and multipath I/O will give EMC customers tighter integration between familiar Windows features and storage based functionality,” North said.

The other advantage of EMC’s use of Microsoft’s API is that they’re the same mechanisms used by databases and applications, such as SQL Server and Excel, to interface with storage providers. “So there’s an impressively long list of applications supported,” North said.