Two weeks ago, I wrote about Windows-powered Network Attached Storage (NAS) and how you can save a bundle of money by using Windows-powered NAS to consolidate your file servers. Microsoft created Windows-powered NAS as a platform on which the company's storage partners can build file servers that are easy to use, richly featured, cost-effective, and highly adaptable to any Windows environment.

To make sure Microsoft wasn't blowing smoke about the capabilities that Windows-powered NAS offers vendors, I talked with one of Microsoft's storage partners, Iomega. Iomega recently announced a 720GB version of its popular Windows-powered NAS product line. Iomega makes a range of Windows-powered NAS systems aimed at small to midsized businesses as well as departmental server markets. Iomega's storage systems range from 160GB to 720GB, feature hot-swappable ATA drives, and take full advantage of the Windows-powered NAS platform. "Our goal is to provide specific enterprise-class storage features to the \[small to medium business\] market," said Akshay Gupta, product general manager of Iomega's back-office products.

Iomega is very happy with its decision to bring out a line of NAS products built around the Windows-powered NAS platform. "Windows has a huge base of installed users and a large ecosystem of third-party solutions built around that platform. Virus scanners, backup solutions, support for Active Directory—it's all there. We don't have to burn a lot of development cycles building solutions for a proprietary platform. We're happy with the feature set and time-to-market that Windows-powered NAS provides," said Gupta.

For you who have Windows NT servers in your file-serving environment, Windows-powered NAS provides a quick way to replace those servers with newer technology while improving performance and manageability. Over the next month, I plan to talk with Windows-powered-NAS customers to find out what they like and dislike about their solutions. In addition, I expect to receive an update from Microsoft about what's coming in the next version of Windows-powered NAS—the version that's based on Windows .NET Server (Win.NET Server) 2003 features. If you use NT or haven't completely migrated to an Active Directory (AD) environment, Windows-powered NAS might make the AD migration process easier. But to find out how, you'll have to wait for my next Storage UPDATE column. Visit Iomega's Web site for more information about the company's family of NAS products.