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Microsoft Nods at iSCSI

Microsoft Corp. has extended storage support in its Exchange Server 2003 product to iSCSI and NAS devices.

Users will now be able to employ iSCSI and NAS hardware with Exchange Server 2003, as long as the solutions have been approved by Microsoft as part of its Designed for Windows logo program.

There has been growing speculation over recent months that iSCSI will emerge as a cost-effective alternative to Fibre Channel, which is currently the dominant storage networking technology. Last September, for example, a survey of 300 U.S. technology buyers by analyst firm IDC
revealed that some 67 percent are receptive to the idea of buying iSCSI (see The Battle for Smallsville).

Claus Egge, program director of European storage systems research at IDC, believes that Microsofts move will provide a boost to iSCSI, particularly among SMBs and distributed computing environments: “Of course it helps, there are businesses out there that want to network their storage, so for them iSCSI will be a nice alternative to Fibre Channel.”

But Sue Clarke, senior research analyst at Butler Group, believes that, for overall performance, iSCSI will always be overshadowed by Fibre Channel. She notes that “the speed and performance of iSCSI is improving, but so is Fibre Channel.”

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