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Microsoft Storage OS Could Go To System Builders With Longhorn

Microsoft plans to bring its Windows Storage Server operating system, now available only to OEMs, to a wider range of custom system builders with the rollout of its upcoming Longhorn version of Windows.

This week, Microsoft also is slated to release an addition to the Windows Storage Server (WSS) OS that will enable OEMs to build storage appliances with both NAS and iSCSI SAN capabilities. Microsoft, too, has released Windows Server 2003 SP2 to private beta.

Windows Storage Server turns an industry-standard server into a NAS appliance. Claude Lorenson, group product manager for storage at Microsoft, said the Redmond, Wash., software giant plans to expand availability of the platform from OEMs to the system builder community, but he wouldn't specify a date for when such a move--which Microsoft has discussed for a couple years--would occur.

"It's easier to do a broader availability with the release of Longhorn. We can do changes to the kernel that we can't do now. The release of an operating system for OEMs is quite different than releasing to the channel because of security concerns, including piracy issues: How to deploy? What kind of key do we make available?" Lorenson said. "Many end users would like to have it with general distribution or volume licensing. We are also looking at that," he added.

In the meantime, Microsoft plans to release the Microsoft iSCSI Software Target Application Pack for Windows Storage Server 2003 R2 version on Friday. The Service Pack is based on iSCSI target technology acquired from String Bean Software in March. Building a SAN based on iSCSI requires the host server to have an iSCSI initiator for sending data and the storage device to have an iSCSI target for receiving the data. With the iSCSI target, Microsoft plans to make it possible for OEMs--and maybe custom system builders--to use WSS 2003 to build hybrid storage appliances for file (NAS) or block (iSCSI) applications.

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