Microsoft revamps storage strategy

When you think of storage vendors, the first name that comes to mind isn’t likely Microsoft Corp. But the software behemoth wants to change that.

Microsoft expects the delivery of its Windows .Net Server to be the linchpin of the company’s revamped storage strategy. To accomplish its goals of becoming a stronger player in the storage game, the company will implement a two-pronged approach. First it will add a slew of new capabilities to Windows .Net Server and a smaller number of improvements to Windows 2000 Server. Then Microsoft will provide vendors with APIs and technologies they can use so their equipment and software will work better with Microsoft’s newest operating system.

This isn’t Microsoft’s first foray into the storage realm. Previous operating systems such as Windows NT Server of Win 2000 shipped with storage features either as a capability of the operating system or as packages that could be used if a company didn’t have any other tools. The company also bundled a stripped-down version of Veritas Software’s NetBackup with NT Server, and focused on building support for a variety of file systems including the NT File System (NTFS), Network File System (NFS) and the File Allocation Table into the NT operating system. Win 2000 added to these capabilities by enhancing operating system support for NTFS, managing removable media such as CD-ROM and tape, and adding minimal support for storage-area networks (SAN). With its .Net Server, the company has determined that its operating system must play a more important role with storage.

“Microsoft is trying to make its platform as storage-friendly as possible,” says Nancy Marrone, senior analyst with the Enterprise Storage Group. “This means including some value-added features, but also making the software friendly enough for third-party vendors to be able to write applications and drivers that provide additional value-added storage services.”