At this year's Storage Networking World Spring 2004 trade show, Microsoft made clear that it's serious about storage. The company released new tools as well as outlining upcoming innovations for storage in Windows. Microsoft announced a new feature pack for its specialized storage OS, Windows Storage Server 2003, that will enable consolidation of Microsoft Exchange Server 2003 data on Windows Storage Server-based Network Attached Storage (NAS) devices. Microsoft also announced innovations directed at both competing Storage Area Network (SAN) technologies--Fibre Channel and Internet SCSI (iSCSI)--for use with Windows. "These announcements reflect how we are meeting customers' need to reduce storage costs with consolidated, simplified management of Exchange Server data on Windows Storage Server and how we are helping make SANs more manageable and cost-effective for organizations of all sizes," said Zane Adam, director of product management and marketing for Microsoft's Enterprise Storage Division.
   Microsoft is set to release technology to make using Fibre Channel SANs in Windows easier for consumers. The company will release a new (and free) Fibre Channel Information Tool in May. The tool will dynamically gather SAN information and will provide easy access to configuration data needed to troubleshoot multivendor environments. The company demonstrated the product at the show with Emulex, LSI Logic, and QLogic. The software giant will add storage tracing support to Windows Server 2003 with Service Pack 1 (SP1), which is scheduled to be released later this year. Storage tracing support will consolidate the various tracing and logging mechanisms used by storage drivers on SANs. Adaptec, Emulex, Intel, LSI Logic, and QLogic will support this new capability in their storage drivers.
   Microsoft announced that Windows Server 2003 DataCenter Edition now supports the company's iSCSI architecture. To date, more than 18 storage hardware vendors have received the company's iSCSI Designed for Windows Logo. Vendors will now be able to have their products tested with Windows Server 2003 Datacenter Edition. Microsoft iSCSI Software Initiator 2.0 will be available by the end of 2004 and will include improved native iSCSI support for Microsoft Multipath I/O (MPIO). The improvements will include multipath failover and load balancing between the initiator and iSCSI targets. A beta version of the new initiator is available here (use the case-sensitive guest ID iSCSI).