Since the release of Windows NT, Microsoft has included a backup applet as part of the OS. However, many administrators aren't aware that Microsoft hasn't written many of the company's built-in applets. For example, VERITAS Software licenses its backup applet to Microsoft and uses its relationship with Microsoft to gain inside access to the Windows development team, to work on special marketing with Microsoft, and to promote enhanced built-in product versions within Windows to existing Windows customers.

The following list details storage software that Microsoft licenses, along with the corresponding enhanced version of the product.

VERITAS: Backup applet for all Windows versions; enhanced product name--Backup Exec

VERITAS: Logical Disk Manager (LDM) for Windows Server; enhanced product name--Volume Manager for Windows

VERITAS: Remote Storage Service (RSS) for Windows Server; enhanced product name--NetBackup Storage Migrator for Windows

VERITAS: Storage Resource Manager (SRM) for Windows Powered NAS 2.0; enhanced product name--Precise Storage Central SRM

VERITAS: Automated System Recovery (ASR) for Windows 2000; no enhanced product name

Columbia Data Systems: Snapshots for Windows Powered NAS 2.0; no enhanced product name

As the list shows, Microsoft licenses a lot of software from VERITAS and builds the software into the storage solutions it provides with various versions of Windows. If the built-in software is adequate for your needs, you're in great shape. However, if you need additional functionality, it's nice to know you can upgrade to the enhanced versions of the built-in software or look to other third-party providers.

Microsoft's willingness to license software from third parties lets the company compete effectively against more established storage vendors. For example, Storage Resource Management (SRM) and snapshot technologies are extremely important to Microsoft's success in the Network Attached Storage (NAS) market. Vendors such as Network Appliance (NetApp), a leading NAS solutions provider, established snapshots and quota management features as must-have functionality long before Microsoft entered the market.

In time, however, Microsoft's developers have incorporated features into the core Windows OS that are similar to the technology Microsoft licenses. For example, Microsoft Volume Shadow Copy Service (VSS), which takes snapshots of data volumes at specific intervals, is built into Windows Server 2003. Windows Powered NAS 3.0, which is based on Windows 2003, will also incorporate VSS technology. Many third-party storage providers will take advantage of VSS in the next version of their products. VERITAS Backup Exec 9.0 leverages VSS by initiating application-aware snapshots.

The bottom line is that Microsoft intends to compete vigorously in the storage market, particularly the NAS market. If Microsoft doesn't own a required technology, it will buy it or license it. With only 32 percent of the NAS market share, Microsoft considers itself an underdog in the storage market and wants to change that situation quickly. As a result, we're now seeing a rapid increase in features and a reduction in overall price for most storage solutions.