Network Computing is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them. Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

The NAS That Don't Get No Respect

11:15 AM -- What would you say to a NAS/unified storage OS that, in addition to providing CIFS, NFS, and iSCSI services, provided full text indexing of file content, directory based quotas, and file type screens to prevent users from uploading their MP3 collections, a global name space so multiple devices can act as one and basic SRM reporting? If that's not enough it has sexy data reduction technologies including file system compression and "file-level de-duplication," or single-instance storage.

When it comes to reliability, it can run in single-controller configurations or clusters of up to eight nodes. It is supported by every major backup application, including CDP, and includes copy on write snapshots with end user access to previous versions and deleted files so you don't have to deal with user requests for single file restores. Finally, it's OEMed by vendors from Dell, HP, and IBM to Akbar and Jeff's Computer Hut in appliance and gateway configurations from 1 to 100s of TB.

Despite all these features, our NAS OS is treated like Rodney Dangerfield by enterprise admins who would rather spend several times as much to put bottom-of-the-line FAS or Celerra with 2 TB of disk in the Rancho Cucamonga branch office.

If you havent guessed yet, our mystery OS is Microsoft's Windows Storage Server (WSS) -- the version of Windows Server 2003 R2 that OEMs can use to build NAS solutions. The iSCSI target, which Microsoft acquired from Stringbean Software a couple of years ago, and single-instance storage are unique to WSS as are the command line and Web management console. WSS also differs from Windows server in licensing as Client Access Licenses aren't required to access a WSS server, which really doesn't end up mattering for most organizations as they're required for domain controller access anyway.

OK, so the NFS is pretty slow, you need to add third-party replication, and VSS snapshots are pretty much limited to backups and previous version restores. Even so, WSS, or just Windows server configured as a file server, is a perfectly good place for 100 or 1,000 users to stick their home directories on.

  • 1