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Potential customers may be concerned about Microsoft's history of providing patches to customers who bought OEM-bundled versions of its server operating systems, particularly Windows-powered NAS devices. There was often a significant delay between the time Microsoft released a critical patch and the time that it was made available to users by the OEMs.
"Part of the reason for going with dedicated NAS is reliability," says Scott Blancett, senior project manager, Johns Manville Corp., Denver, CO, who evaluated WSS 2003 and rejected it based largely on the patch issue. "We have to patch our Windows boxes, and we'll have to patch this one, too. A proprietary system would be less likely to need patching. That was our main reason for going to a non-Windows NAS appliance." The company chose NAS 8000 from Hewlett Packard Co. (HP) instead of WSS. "The dedicated HP device is more expensive, but we were able to justify it with its ease of use and the lack of needing to patch it frequently," he says.
Microsoft is trying to address the security patch problem. Marcus Schmidt, senior product manager of WSS 2003, says, "If there are critical security patches, go directly to Windows Update. If there are non-critical patches, we still recommend that you go to the OEM first to get those." The OEMs want to test patches on their platforms before making them available to their customers.
WSS has garnered a significant slice of the NAS market. As the market continues to grow and more vendors get behind it, there will be additional applications for Microsoft NAS. For example, ESG's Asaro anticipates applications for WSS 2003 such as multimedia, streaming video and reference data. " More people are going to adopt Microsoft NAS for these types of applications."
This was first published in August 2004