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Storage vendor to join Microsoft's .NET initiative

SAN maker XIOtech has become one of the first storage vendors to join forces with Microsoft to tie applications directly to storage hardware requirements. Experts say others aren't far behind.

XIOtech Corp. announced that it has joined Microsoft Corp. in an initiative to build storage requirements directly into applications.

The move is part of Microsoft's push to link its .NET services, including backup, detection, configuration and management, closer to storage resources.

.NET is a collection of programming support from Microsoft for Web services. The .NET platform includes servers; building-block services, such as Web-based data storage; and device software.

XIOtech, a subsidiary of Seagate Technology that is based in Eden Prairie, Minn., called this initiative a "dramatic departure" from current storage management methods that don't take the storage requirements of applications into account..

Tightly coupling applications to storage makes installation, configuration and overall performance and management more efficient, experts said.

With its Magnitude storage area network (SAN) platform, XIOtech has become one of the hardware providers that supports Microsoft Windows .NET Volume Shadow Copy service and Virtual Disk service.

The Volume Shadow Copy service manages backup services between server applications and storage hardware without interfering with end-user access to data and applications, according to Microsoft. While the Virtual Disk service enables detection, configuration and management of logical unit numbers (LUNs), providing a common interface for LUN management and giving applications the power to configure virtual disks to their needs. Both services function as part of the operating system itself.

Mike Fisch, senior analyst for the Wellesley, Mass.-based Clipper Group, said the key here is that Microsoft is extending its operating systems further into storage management.

"I think Microsoft will continue to enhance its Windows .NET feature set for storage management," he said. "Microsoft wants to position .NET as a data center platform, and storage management is a key issue for enterprises."

While XIOtech was the first storage hardware vendor to support these features, Fisch expects others to line up.

"It's a major OS, and vendors will want to be perceived as fully supporting it," Fisch said.

XIOtech announced its first application-driven storage solution, the SANbuilder for Microsoft Exchange Series, in January 2002, followed by SANbuilder for Healthcare Applications, and SANbuilder for Oracle.

"Application-driven, attribute-based storage means that end users can focus on the policies that optimize storage for their environments, rather than being bogged down in the day-to-day administration of the storage itself," said Dan McCormick, vice president of worldwide marketing for XIOtech.

Steve Duplessie, senior analyst and founder of Enterprise Storage Group Inc., Milford, Mass., said that anytime a vendor can get integrated into the Microsoft way of doing things, they will benefit. "XIOtech figured this out and wants to be out in front of the pack," he said.

Microsoft has netted some other storage vendors in recent months to propel the presence of .NET in data center infrastructures. Last August, the company teamed with Avanade Inc., Brocade Communications Systems Inc., Dell Computer Corp., EMC Corp., Emulex Corp., Nortel Networks Inc., and Unisys Corp., in announcing the Internet Blueprint and the Internet Blueprint Plus for the Microsoft Systems Architecture, which was designed to help users implement data center infrastructures based on the Windows 2000 server platform.

Let us know what you think about the story; e-mail Kevin Komiega, News Writer


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