Q&A: Windows Storage Server

Microsoft's Zane Adams recently discussed the growing potential for Windows Storage Server with Senior Editor Keith Ward.

Microsoft released Windows Storage Server last September. WSS, available only through third-party storage hardware vendors, replaced three-year-old Windows Powered Network Attached Storage. Zane Adam, director of product management and marketing for Microsoft's enterprise storage division, recently talked to MCP Magazine about WSS.

Q: How stable is WSS? Have you encountered many bugs in the product since the September launch?

It's been stable. Absolutely no issues, because its core function is file and print. It's been optimized and tested for that, and we've optimized it to each hardware [solution] with our partners. More and more mission-critical data is going on it. I've seen customers with10-15 terabyte boxes and higher running for a long, long time.

Q: Is WSS an evolutionary or revolutionary step up from Windows-powered NAS?

There's a lot of new technologies from when it was Windows NAS. It moved from the Windows 2000 Server kernel to the Windows Server 2003 kernel. We integrated functionality like Volume Shadow Copy Service, Virtual Disk Service and 8-node clustering.

WSS is part of the Windows Server family. We take advantage of everything we want from the platform and build on top of it. We tweak it and optimize it, we add [WSS-specific technology] like Web UI for remote management, and Storage Manager.

We disable services not needed for a dedicated file-and-print server. We lock it down. For instance, you cannot locally install SQL and Exchange, or make it an AD [Active Directory] server.

Q: The Virtual Disk Service (VDS) hasn't gotten much mainstream press attention. What benefit will it have for administrators?

[Imagine you're a network administrator] with SANs [storage area networks] from two different vendors. You have WSS, with five [storage boxes] attached to each one of them, acting as your gateways. Today, without VDS, if you have to do LUN management, like expand or shrink LUNs, you have to go to vendor A's application and then mount LUNs on each of the storage servers attached to that LUN. Then, when you're done with that, you go to the other one and do the same. You have to do it with two different applications and have to learn both of them.

But if the SAN vendor supports VDS, like most big ones do, you sit on one of the machines with WSS, and attach to the "A" SAN. From that storage server, you can mount LUNs on all five of those boxes attached to Vendor A's SAN, without even firing up the application, and do the LUN management. From the same machine, you can also traverse and do the LUN management for the others.

Administrative costs of managing storage goes down. Suppose you have SQL with three or four terabytes, and you need to expand the LUN; this thing could save you hours, because it can automate that process.

[Minor editorial corrections were made to this article; particularly in misuse of LUN for LAN. We thank Microsoft for pointing out the discrepancy.—Editors]

About the Author

Keith Ward is the editor in chief of Virtualization & Cloud Review. Follow him on Twitter @VirtReviewKeith.


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