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Microsoft, Compaq Connect WinSock and SAN

While courtrooms aflutter about Windows APIs and their obstacle-inducing code, Microsoft Corp. and Compaq Computer Corp. are working on a way to bring WinSock APIs to the forefront of enterprise system area networks (SAN).

Today the two giants jointly announced an initiative to develop the architectural building block that will enable enterprise users to readily exploit the advantages of industry-standard system area network-based environments. Microsoft, with significant contributions from Compaq, is launching the WinSock/SAN Open Industry Initiative, which links its WinSock API with SAN interconnect technology. The two companies made the announcement at Microsoft's WinSock/SAN Design Review Conference in Redmond.

Microsoft and Compaq hope that enterprise customers will use the WinSock APIs to access the SAN interconnects, while still being able to use their existing applications and build the infrastructure necessary to combine industry-standard software and hardware components into Windows 2000-based distributed systems.

Users will be able to deploy SANs to link their Web or application servers to data for efficient high-bandwidth, low-latency messaging that conserves processor time for application use. High-bandwidth and low-latency interprocess communication (IPC) and network system I/O may translate to significant customer benefits, including the ability to have more users on the system, faster response times and higher transaction rates.

Today's announcement highlights the continued close working relationship between Microsoft and Compaq formalized under the Frontline Partnership and is further evidence of the companies' efforts to propel the Microsoft Windows 2000 operating system into a premier role in the enterprise data center. The two companies collaborated previously on a variety of clustering technologies, most recently on the Virtual Interface Architecture, an industry-standard framework that significantly reduces the protocol overhead in the IPC over SAN interconnects and is an important complement to this new initiative.

Linking the WinSock 2 API to SAN interconnects could make thousands of existing applications transparently SAN-ready. As a result, the growth of SAN-based architectures in business-critical environments would be expected to accelerate.

Now, developers of SAN interconnect hardware can develop interconnects that are WinSock 2 API-compatible by using the SAN infrastructure from Microsoft. In addition, by using the Microsoft infrastructure, hardware vendors will be able to direct the message traffic from WinSock 2 applications to SAN interconnect hardware, bypassing the TCP/IP protocol stack.

Microsoft is distributing the first version of the specification details at the Design Review Conference. Compaq and Microsoft will also be demonstrating at the Design Review Conference early WinSock/SAN prototypes on Compaq ProLiant servers.
WinSock/SAN is expected to be in beta testing as early as next year with release slated to coincide with that of Windows 2000. --Brian Ploskina, Assistant Editor

About the Author

Scott Bekker is editor in chief of Redmond Channel Partner magazine.

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