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OS Competition Heats Up NAS Market

The race for leadership in the NAS market is pitting three operating systems against each other in a pretty contentious contest.

One of the three, Microsoft's Windows Storage Server 2003, is the central operating system of NAS appliances from a variety of vendors, which range in size from Iomega to such big-name vendors as Hewlett-Packard and EMC.

The two other operating systems are proprietary to specific vendors that specialize in NAS appliances, including the Data ONTAP operating system from Network Appliance, a leader in the enterprise space, and the GuardianOS from Snap Appliance, which is strong in the workgroup and department markets and moving into the enterprise-class appliance space.

Marcus Schmidt, senior product manager for Microsoft's Windows Storage Server, said NAS appliances running Redmond, Wash.-based Microsoft's operating system are expected to account for about half of all appliances in the market by the end of this year, citing information from research firms IDC and Gartner.

Since Windows Storage Server 2003 is a subset of Windows Server 2003, a key advantage to customers using it for NAS appliances is seamless interoperability with Windows environments, Schmidt said. Windows-based NAS boxes also scale from a 1-Gbyte model to 60-plus Tbytes. Most importantly, he said, customers can choose from multiple vendors.

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