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Microsoft's Near-Term Storage Strategy

When it comes to storage, Microsoft has several important enhancements in its product lineup. One is the Windows Server 2003 R2 release, which will bring a number of new storage features to the server OS. The other is a brand new product for backup and restore that launches at the end of this month.

Windows Server 2003 R2

Windows Server 2003 R2 is a second version of the Windows Server 2003 operating system. Storage is a major theme, along with improvements to directory services and for branch-office scenarios.

R2 brings two new tools to Windows Server -- the File Server Resource Manager (FSRM) and the Storage Manager for SANs. Between those tools, R2 is supposed to deliver a centralized view of storage; simplified storage planning, provisioning and maintenance; and improved monitoring and reporting.

FSRM is designed to give administrators tools to understand how storage is being used and to manage use of storage by generating storage reports, applying quotas to volumes and folders and screening files on the server. While Windows 2000 and Windows Server 2003 supported NTFS disk quotas, FSRM will go further. FSRM will track quotas by folder or volume; will calculate actual disk space rather than logical file size; and will bring new notification mechanisms such as e-mail, custom reports and command execution.

The other tool, Storage Manager for SANS, will give administrators a snap-in to create and manage the logical units (LUNs) used to allocate space on storage subsystems in both Fibre Channel and iSCSI environments.

Data Protection Server

At the end of the month, Microsoft will launch Microsoft System Center Data Protection Manager, which was unveiled a year ago and has been in public beta since April. DPM is a new disk-based backup and recovery server for Windows file servers.

The company intends the product to fill what it says is a gap in disk-to-disk backup products left by technologies based on a disk-to-tape legacy. Microsoft's DPM recreates the file structure of the original Windows server on the DPM server -- generally a NAS device or a server directly attached to a disk array.

Administrators can navigate to damaged files through Windows Explorer or search the server for quick recovery. If administrators enable another feature, users with Windows XP Service Pack 2 will also be able to recover their own files directly from the DPM system from new menu options in Windows Explorer. Another end-user recovery option will be self-recovery of previously saved file versions.

Microsoft's target market is mid-size enterprises with five to 100 servers and in large enterprises with dozens of branch offices.

About the Author

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

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