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Microsoft Laces IP SAN Boots

SAN DIEGO -- Storage Networking World -- Microsoft has added another piece to its iSCSI strategy by supporting the ability to boot servers from an IP SAN with a free software initiator.

Until now, booting server configurations from an IP SAN has been possible by using third-party software without Microsoft support or HBAs that serve as TCP/IP offload engines (TOEs).

The feature should be welcome news to data center managers. Booting from SAN is a feature that makes it easy to create multiple servers by copying the boot volume. It also allows blade servers without disks to be reconfigured from a SAN, rather than from other servers, cutting down the number of disk-based servers required for disaster recovery and provisioning. (See IP SANs Get the 'Boot'.)

Until now, though, ITers who wanted to boot from their IP SAN haven't received much help from Microsoft. Their choices were to risk using software that their operating system did not support, or to buy HBAs for hundreds of dollars apiece.

Now, Microsoft will make code available for server and software vendors to build into their products so its initiator can support booting from servers. Microsoft storage product manager Claude Lorenson says he expects emBoot to be the first software vendor to take advantage of Microsoft support by building it into its WinBoot/i application. (See IP SANs Get the 'Boot'.) IBM, which helped Microsoft develop and test the firmware, plans to offer the capability in its BladeCenter blade servers by June.

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