Like death and taxes, one thing that's a certainty, at least for all IT organizations, is the need for storage. No matter how much storage you have, you always seem to fill it up. This axiom is as true for small and midsized businesses as it is for large enterprises. Ever-expanding regulatory requirements; online backup; and email, database, document, and application growth are some of the primary driving factors fueling the need for storage. This demand for storage has exceeded the capacities offered by DAS. Plus, because DAS is internally mounted, it's difficult to expand and upgrade. NAS and SANs address the limitations of DAS by providing the ability to attach the storage directly to the network where it can be readily accessed by any network device. Of these two network storage technologies, NAS devices are targeted more toward small-to-midsized businesses (SMBs). NAS units are designed for ease of installation and are optimized for file-serving performance. SAN devices are designed with enterprise storage needs in mind; they offer greater scalability as well as advanced data protection capabilities such as the ability to take volume snapshots and replicate data. Like you might expect, SAN devices are significantly more expensive and more complex than NAS devices. In addition to pure NAS and SAN storage devices, a newer variant entails using a NAS gateway on a SAN. The network clients are able to use the simple NAS connections, and the NAS appliance uses the physical storage from a back-end SAN storage array.

  • Windows Storage Server 2003 R2
    Recognizing the need for easy-to-access network storage, Microsoft created a specialized version of the Windows Server OS called Windows Storage Server 2003 R2, which powers NAS devices. Being a member of the Windows Server family, Windows Storage Server supports integration with Active Directory (AD) and a management experience that is readily understood by Windows administrators. However, you can't buy Windows Storage Server off the shelf. Instead it only comes bundled with OEM products from companies such as HP and DELL. Unlike the more general purpose Windows Server 2003 OS, Windows Storage Server is optimized for file serving and is capable of running headless, (i.e., without a monitor, keyboard, and mouse). You can manage Windows Storage Server devices by using a streamlined Microsoft Management Console (MMC) snap-in, and you can connect remotely via RDP. Unlike the Windows Server OS, Windows Storage Server is aimed primarily toward file and print serving, and it doesn't support running most line of business (LOB) applications or server products such as Microsoft SQL Server or Exchange Server. Windows Storage Server doesn't require CAL licenses and provides file serving for a variety of OSs by supporting a variety of file access protocols including
  • Common Internet File System (CIFS)/ Server Message Block (SMB) for Windows clients
  • NFS for Linux and UNIX clients
  • HTTP for Web-based file sharing
  • WWW Distributed Authoring and Versioning (WebDAV) for desktop Web-based file management

Windows Storage Server comes preinstalled on OEM devices and is designed for fast deployment. Most devices can be installed and available in less than 15 minutes. Because Windows Storage Server devices have very specific roles, they don't typically need the frequent patches and security updates that apply to the general purpose versions of Windows 2003, which typically support a much broader array of functionality.

One of the most important features that Windows Storage Server brings to the NAS market is Single Instance Store (SIS). SIS can save disk space by identifying identical files via a content-hashing mechanism. SIS stores only one physical instance of a file. Duplicate instances are replaced with links to the original file. If the duplicate file is modified, then the link is replaced with a copy of the updated file. Windows Storage Server also provides enhanced data protection using Microsoft Volume Shadow Copy Service (VSS). VSS enables administrators to create as many as 512 point-in-time snapshots per volume, which you can use for rapid end-user data restore. In addition, file-serving performance is optimized over the general purpose version of Windows 2003. OEMs perform several optimizations before shipping the product, including disabling 8.3 file naming, limiting the paged-pool size to allow a larger system cache, and configuring disk alignment for more efficient access. Windows Storage Server also supports the indexing service, which improves search functionality for Windows 2000 and Windows XP clients. Load balancing and file replication are provided through DFS, and Remote Differential Compression (RDC) technology increases data transmission efficiencies across WAN links.

In addition to a more user-friendly MMC management interface, Windows Storage Server 2003 R2 also includes two storage-management tools: Storage Manager for SANs and File Server Resource Manager (FSRM). Like its name implies the Storage Manager for SANs lets you provision storage subsystems on SANs by using the Microsoft Virtual Disk Service (VDS) technology. FSRM allows you to manage user storage by establishing user quotas and setting up file screening, whereby you can prevent certain types of files from being stored.

Although Windows Storage Server doesn't support running most LOB applications, it does support running Windows SharePoint Services to facilitate document management and collaboration. Like Windows SharePoint Services 2003, Windows Storage Server SharePoint Services provides various team collaboration features, including support for calendars, Web links, discussions, shared document libraries, and Web parts.

Windows Unified Data Storage Server 2003
The next evolutionary step beyond Windows Storage Server is Windows Unified Storage Server 2003 (WUDSS). Like Windows Storage Server, WUDSS is geared toward the NAS market and is available only preinstalled on various OEM offerings. WUDSS targets the midsized business or small enterprise. WUDSS is available in the following editions:

  • WUDSS 2003, Standard Edition
  • WUDSS 2003, Standard x64 Edition
  • WUDSS 2003, Enterprise Edition
  • WUDSS 2003, Enterprise x64 Edition

WUDSS offers the same basic feature set as Windows Storage Server, with several larger–business-oriented additions, the most important of which is probably the addition of Microsoft iSCSI Software Target technology. iSCSI Software Target enables WUDSS to provide back-end block-level storage for server applications such as Exchange Server, SQL Server, and other server or database programs.

WUDSS has a new Initial Configuration Tasks interface that walks the user through a set of user-friendly setup questions that are designed to make setting up WUDSS appliances easier and reduce the prerequisite knowledge required to complete the setup. WUDSS also has a new MMC Share and Storage Management snap-in. The integrated management snap-in lets administrators manage both CIFS/SMB and NFS shares. Like Windows Storage Server, WUDSS supports remote administration through RDP; however to enable management by non-Microsoft clients, WUDSS also supports remote administration via the Java-based RDP client. For more WUDSS product information, see "HP StorageWorks 400 All-in-One Storage System," February 2007, InstantDoc ID 94535.

Moving Forward
Windows Storage Server and WUDSS are built on the Windows 2003 OS and answer today's need for NAS. Windows Storage Server and WUDSS devices are quick and easy to deploy and provide the administrator with a familiar Windows management experience. The next generation of Windows Storage Server and WUDSS devices will be based on the Windows Longhorn Server code base, which will help streamline and secure the next generation of Windows Storage Server products.

Like death and taxes, one thing that's a certainty, at least for all IT organizations, is the need for storage. No matter how much storage you have, you always seem to fill it up. This axiom is as true for small and midsized businesses as it is for large enterprises. Ever-expanding regulatory requirements; online backup; and email, database, document, and application growth are some of the primary driving factors fueling the need for storage. This demand for storage has exceeded the capacities offered by DAS. Plus, because DAS is internally mounted, it's difficult to expand and upgrade. NAS and SANs address the limitations of DAS by providing the ability to attach the storage directly to the network where it can be readily accessed by any network device. Of these two network storage technologies, NAS devices are targeted more toward small-to-midsized businesses (SMBs). NAS units are designed for ease of installation and are optimized for file-serving performance. SAN devices are designed with enterprise storage needs in mind; they offer greater scalability as well as advanced data protection capabilities such as the ability to take volume snapshots and replicate data. Like you might expect, SAN devices are significantly more expensive and more complex than NAS devices. In addition to pure NAS and SAN storage devices, a newer variant entails using a NAS gateway on a SAN. The network clients are able to use the simple NAS connections, and the NAS appliance uses the physical storage from a back-end SAN storage array.

  • Windows Storage Server 2003 R2
    Recognizing the need for easy-to-access network storage, Microsoft created a specialized version of the Windows Server OS called Windows Storage Server 2003 R2, which powers NAS devices. Being a member of the Windows Server family, Windows Storage Server supports integration with Active Directory (AD) and a management experience that is readily understood by Windows administrators. However, you can't buy Windows Storage Server off the shelf. Instead it only comes bundled with OEM products from companies such as HP and DELL. Unlike the more general purpose Windows Server 2003 OS, Windows Storage Server is optimized for file serving and is capable of running headless, (i.e., without a monitor, keyboard, and mouse). You can manage Windows Storage Server devices by using a streamlined Microsoft Management Console (MMC) snap-in, and you can connect remotely via RDP. Unlike the Windows Server OS, Windows Storage Server is aimed primarily toward file and print serving, and it doesn't support running most line of business (LOB) applications or server products such as Microsoft SQL Server or Exchange Server. Windows Storage Server doesn't require CAL licenses and provides file serving for a variety of OSs by supporting a variety of file access protocols including
  • Common Internet File System (CIFS)/ Server Message Block (SMB) for Windows clients
  • NFS for Linux and UNIX clients
  • HTTP for Web-based file sharing
  • WWW Distributed Authoring and Versioning (WebDAV) for desktop Web-based file management

Windows Storage Server comes preinstalled on OEM devices and is designed for fast deployment. Most devices can be installed and available in less than 15 minutes. Because Windows Storage Server devices have very specific roles, they don't typically need the frequent patches and security updates that apply to the general purpose versions of Windows 2003, which typically support a much broader array of functionality.

One of the most important features that Windows Storage Server brings to the NAS market is Single Instance Store (SIS). SIS can save disk space by identifying identical files via a content-hashing mechanism. SIS stores only one physical instance of a file. Duplicate instances are replaced with links to the original file. If the duplicate file is modified, then the link is replaced with a copy of the updated file. Windows Storage Server also provides enhanced data protection using Microsoft Volume Shadow Copy Service (VSS). VSS enables administrators to create as many as 512 point-in-time snapshots per volume, which you can use for rapid end-user data restore. In addition, file-serving performance is optimized over the general purpose version of Windows 2003. OEMs perform several optimizations before shipping the product, including disabling 8.3 file naming, limiting the paged-pool size to allow a larger system cache, and configuring disk alignment for more efficient access. Windows Storage Server also supports the indexing service, which improves search functionality for Windows 2000 and Windows XP clients. Load balancing and file replication are provided through DFS, and Remote Differential Compression (RDC) technology increases data transmission efficiencies across WAN links.

In addition to a more user-friendly MMC management interface, Windows Storage Server 2003 R2 also includes two storage-management tools: Storage Manager for SANs and File Server Resource Manager (FSRM). Like its name implies the Storage Manager for SANs lets you provision storage subsystems on SANs by using the Microsoft Virtual Disk Service (VDS) technology. FSRM allows you to manage user storage by establishing user quotas and setting up file screening, whereby you can prevent certain types of files from being stored.

Although Windows Storage Server doesn't support running most LOB applications, it does support running Windows SharePoint Services to facilitate document management and collaboration. Like Windows SharePoint Services 2003, Windows Storage Server SharePoint Services provides various team collaboration features, including support for calendars, Web links, discussions, shared document libraries, and Web parts.

Windows Unified Data Storage Server 2003
The next evolutionary step beyond Windows Storage Server is Windows Unified Storage Server 2003 (WUDSS). Like Windows Storage Server, WUDSS is geared toward the NAS market and is available only preinstalled on various OEM offerings. WUDSS targets the midsized business or small enterprise. WUDSS is available in the following editions:

  • WUDSS 2003, Standard Edition
  • WUDSS 2003, Standard x64 Edition
  • WUDSS 2003, Enterprise Edition
  • WUDSS 2003, Enterprise x64 Edition

WUDSS offers the same basic feature set as Windows Storage Server, with several larger–business-oriented additions, the most important of which is probably the addition of Microsoft iSCSI Software Target technology. iSCSI Software Target enables WUDSS to provide back-end block-level storage for server applications such as Exchange Server, SQL Server, and other server or database programs.

WUDSS has a new Initial Configuration Tasks interface that walks the user through a set of user-friendly setup questions that are designed to make setting up WUDSS appliances easier and reduce the prerequisite knowledge required to complete the setup. WUDSS also has a new MMC Share and Storage Management snap-in. The integrated management snap-in lets administrators manage both CIFS/SMB and NFS shares. Like Windows Storage Server, WUDSS supports remote administration through RDP; however to enable management by non-Microsoft clients, WUDSS also supports remote administration via the Java-based RDP client. For more WUDSS product information, see "HP StorageWorks 400 All-in-One Storage System," February 2007, InstantDoc ID 94535.

Moving Forward
Windows Storage Server and WUDSS are built on the Windows 2003 OS and answer today's need for NAS. Windows Storage Server and WUDSS devices are quick and easy to deploy and provide the administrator with a familiar Windows management experience. The next generation of Windows Storage Server and WUDSS devices will be based on the Windows Longhorn Server code base, which will help streamline and secure the next generation of Windows Storage Server products.