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Inside Windows Storage Server

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Easy to configure
Tony Asaro, senior analyst, Enterprise Strategy Group (ESG), agrees that WSS 2003 is "extremely easy to configure and manage." He adds that "you can get it up and running in less than an hour." For file sharing applications, Asaro says you can ship these devices to remote offices and then configure them remotely.

WSS 2003 is optimized for file sharing. It provides familiar management interfaces and integrates with a Windows-based infrastructure. Another key application--particularly as OEMs expand their offerings and the cost of disk continues to fall--is backup to disk.

For example, WSS 2003 provides backup and recovery for remote offices because you can replicate data from a storage server at the remote office to a server at the central site, and then back up the replicated data. This approach ensures ongoing data backup without requiring a backup window. Jason Buffington, director of business continuity, NSI Software, Hoboken, NJ, says, "I am a big fan of this solution."

Competitive advantage
Due to its simplicity and easy integration with existing Windows-based infrastructures, WSS 2003 is a good choice for smaller shops already committed to a Microsoft infrastructure. This choice is more difficult for large shops and those dedicated to Unix.

"WSS is an extremely cost-competitive NAS solution that the market has mistakenly

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thought of as the low-end alternative to NetApp," says Asaro. For organizations primarily using Windows servers, he adds, Microsoft's Windows NAS solution makes sense. It's essentially another Windows server that allows users to consolidate storage and provide file sharing to their company. And moderately sized Exchange environments (up to 1,500 mail boxes) can also use it for e-mail storage. Unix and Linux users tend to avoid using Microsoft NAS because of cultural--rather than functional--issues, says Asaro.

NetApp, Asaro adds, has transcended being a NAS company, while still providing one of the best and most popular enterprise NAS products. NetApp's Ontap operating system provides high-end data snapshots and mirroring as well as a rich set of enterprise data management applications such as FilerView and MultiStore. NetApp also provides SAN products and can support any application. NetApp's NearStore software provides disk-to-disk backup that creates multiple tiers of storage as part of a lifecycle management strategy. And according to Asaro, "they have done a great job of integrating all of their data management software across all of their solutions."

Some leading software vendors, such as CommVault Systems Inc., Computer Associates International Inc., KVS Inc., Legato, NSI Software and Veritas Software Corp., recently announced that they will provide applications that work in conjunction with WSS.

Kelly Polanski, vice president of availability solutions for Legato, calls WSS "a very robust feature-rich platform that complements NetWorker." Veritas tweaked its Backup Exec and NetBackup applications to take advantage of WSS' Volume Shadow Copy and to work within its management interface. Its StorageCentral taps into Active Directory to help provide enterprisewide policy management.

This was first published in August 2004

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