Microsoft Likes Fibre Channel, Too

Broadened storage support for Windows Server 2003 goes beyond iSCSI

April 6, 2004

2 Min Read
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PHOENIX -- Storage Networking World -- In a small departure from its party line, Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT) included Fibre Channel SAN tools in enhancements announced here at the Storage Networking World tradeshow today.

The Fibre Channel tools are part of Microsoft's effort to broaden its support of all types of networked storage -- though iSCSI and NAS still get most of the vendor's attention. Microsoft's announcements at the show include:

  • Fibre Channel configuration and troubleshooting tools in Service Pack 1 for Windows Server 2003. Microsoft will consolidate tracing and logging information into one file so customers can find problems quicker. Microsoft also is making software available as a free download to help configure Fibre Channel devices on SANs with multiple vendors.

  • Support for iSCSI via qualification on Windows Server 2003 Datacenter Edition -- the only edition of Windows 2003 server that did not support iSCSI. Now thirteen iSCSI vendors have qualified devices for Datacenter, says Microsoft.

  • Built-in failover and load balancing support in Microsoft's iSCSI Initiator 2.0, a driver and support package for Windows servers that is expected by the end of the year.

  • Support for Exchange Server 2003 on Windows-based NAS devices to OEMs. Microsoft expects NAS vendors such as Dell Computer Corp. (Nasdaq: DELL), EMC Corp. (NYSE: EMC), Hewlett-Packard Co. (NYSE: HPQ), and Iomega Corp. (NYSE: IOM) to ship products by July allowing customers to consolidate Exchange data on their NAS Systems. This follows Microsoft's vow of support for Exchange on iSCSI and NAS last month (see Microsoft Nods at iSCSI.)

So far, Adaptec Inc. (Nasdaq: ADPT), Emulex Corp. (NYSE: ELX), Intel Corp. (Nasdaq: INTC), LSI Logic Corp. (NYSE: LSI), and QLogic Corp. (Nasdaq: QLGC) have agreed to support Microsoft's new SAN tracing in their drivers. Three of these -- Emulex, LSI, and QLogic -- will demonstrate the Fibre Channel configuration software here at the show.

While Microsoft continues strong support of iSCSI, Microsoft enterprise storage product manager Claude Lorenson says he doesn't see Fibre Channel going away for a long time -- especially in the enterprise (see Microsoft Sparks iSCSI Liftoff).

"The performance advantage Fibre Channel has today will take a while for iSCSI to match, especially with Fibre Channel going to 4 Gbit/s this year," he says. "iSCSI is still at 1 Gbit/s and won't become ubiquitous until [it reaches] 10-GigE. That's not going to happen for a while."

Lorenson acknowledges that Microsoft hasn't been the driving force in Fibre Channel that it has been in iSCSI. "We had some catch-up to do in Fibre Channel, because we didn't foresee Fibre Channel when we developed Windows 2000," he says. "We've taken the leadership position in iSCSI; that hasn't been the case in Fibre Channel."Dave Raffo, Senior Editor, Byte and Switch

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