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Microsoft Munches String Bean

Microsoft made a bigger push into iSCSI, with the help of technology it acquired today from String Bean Software.

Microsoft bought the intellectual property of String Bean, giving it the startup's WinTarget software that turns a Windows file server into an iSCSI target. Microsoft's decision to make an iSCSI initiator available for free in 2003 is considered one of the drivers of IP SAN adoption because it saved users from having to buy expensive TCP/IP offload cards (TOEs). (See Microsoft Sparks iSCSI Liftoff.)

Now it has a target, too -- but that won't be free. Microsoft will sell WinTarget as a feature pack for Windows Storage Server 2003 R2. The feature pack will allow companies to use a storage server as a NAS device and iSCSI target.

The deal was one of two moves today that underscore Microsoft's growing importance in storage. The vendor also expanded an agreement by which EMC will widen its support of the latest versions of Exchange and SQL Server -- a result of EMC's acquisition of IT managed services firm Internosis last month. (See Microsoft, EMC Strengthen Ties and EMC Buys IT Services Firm.)

Microsoft's main storage focus these days is around Windows Storage Server 2003 R2, which is expected to be available in early April. (See Microsoft Sets Sights on SANs.) The iSCSI feature pack will be available in June or July. Claude Lorenson, Microsoft storage product manager, says no price has been set, but String Bean priced its standard edition at $300 per server and the advanced edition at $550 per server.

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