The WSS Factor

Storage suppliers are using Windows to meet demand quickly

July 18, 2007

3 Min Read
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Storage customers are getting the idea about Windows-based storage technology. Once thought of as strictly for SMBs, Windows Storage Server 2003 (WSS) seems to be increasingly ubiquitous.

Take Compellent's latest release of WSS-based NAS for its Storage Center SAN. (See Compellent Adds Integral NAS.) Compellent ditched an arrangement to resell NAS for ONStor in favor of its new approach, and it's not looking back.

In other news, Sanbolic recently introduced a clustered file system for WSS-based apps. (See Sanbolic Improves Clustered NAS.) And at least one other SAN vendor we know is readying a slew of enhancements built on WSS.

There's nothing new about Microsoft's success with WSS. Since its introduction to OEMs late in 2006, WSS R2 has been regularly adopted for its ease of integration with storage networking products, including NAS and iSCSI. (See Microsoft Widens Storage Window, Microsoft Opens iSCSI Window, and Microsoft Boss Eyes Innovation.)

Over the last couple of years, adopters have included Dell, HP, Iomega, Gateway, and others. (See Gateway Servers Provide Solutions.) EMC sells WSS through its EMC Select program. EqualLogic counts WSS as one of its major NAS gateways, and at least one customer says it was a key selling point. (See Tomato Titan Serves NAS With SAN.)There are many other examples and implementations, of course. And lately, they seem to be escalating, thanks to conditions that make WSS more attractive than ever to storage suppliers.

Among these influences is the lower cost of SAN hardware. Users are clamoring for more storage, and more manageable storage. Given that it's not so tough to offer a SATA-based array these days, Microsoft's package of features looks pretty inviting to suppliers in a rush to add features to commoditized hardware. For startups and established players eager to get a piece of data center action, Microsoft's iSCSI initiator, virtual disk service (VDS), volume shadow copy service (VSS), multi-path I/O (MPIO), single instance storage (SIS), and oplock can streamline the path to market.

On top of this, WSS has started to build up a track record, solidifying its reputation and helping to alleviate fears about performance and scalability. While these issues persist for many customers, OEMs are finding it easy to sell prospects on the methods they've used in "partnering with Microsoft" to overcome them.

Another trend in Microsoft's favor is the merger of SAN and NAS. In Compellent's case, having this integration and a single source of support for it was important, and WSS was the stepping-stone to making it happen.

There are always downsides, and in Microsoft's case, they involve the challenge of offering storage via Windows, which continues to be perceived in some quarters as a questionable platform for higher-end storage applications. Still, given the rate of growth in the storage market and the demand among customers for instant solutions, it's likely Microsoft's WSS will continue to build momentum.Mary Jander, Site Editor, Byte and Switch

  • Compellent Technologies Inc.

  • Dell Inc. (Nasdaq: DELL)

  • Hewlett-Packard Co. (NYSE: HPQ)

  • Iomega Corp. (NYSE: IOM)

  • Gateway Inc.

  • Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT)

  • Network Appliance Inc. (Nasdaq: NTAP)

  • ONStor Inc.

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