One of Microsoft's top goals in 2003 is to help its customers use Windows Powered Network Attached Storage (WPNAS) solutions to migrate and consolidate from old Windows NT boxes to Windows 2000 and Windows Server 2003. Many studies demonstrate that such a migration will yield a good Return on Investment (ROI). In fact, server consolidation using NAS and Storage Area Networks (SANs) has become one of the hot growth areas in the IT market. Customers are seeing increased performance, reliability, and functionality and easier storage management at a reduced cost. After spending several months working with WPNAS solutions, I've become a believer myself. WPNAS works. If I were still running an enterprise IT shop, I'd be actively working on getting my IT infrastructure in shape by consolidating to WPNAS and SAN.

During the "An Introduction to NAS" Webcast, we polled the audience in realtime and asked how many servers the audience members were responsible for. About one-third of the audience members oversee less than 10 servers, one-third oversee between 10 to 100 servers, and one-third oversee more than 100 servers in their enterprise. Industry statistics show that the typical IT shop has multiple servers with Direct Attached Storage (DAS) wasting as much as 70 percent of disk storage space.

Why? Here's a typical scenario: IT assigns 100GB of storage to the sales department, 100GB to Human Resources (HR), 100GB to finance, and so on. Within a few months, IT reassesses its actual storage requirements and finds that HR might be using only 20 percent of its total assigned storage space, whereas sales is using 90 percent and finance is using 50 percent. Because reassigning storage in a DAS environment is difficult, much storage space is wasted if the initial space assignment isn't accurate. In addition, users often keep MP3 files and other non-business-related files on the server, which Win2K's built-in Quota Manager can't prevent. The majority of our polled audience admitted to filling 30 percent to 40 percent of their current storage with junk--files that will be filtered out during a consolidation project.

According to a February 2003 ChangeWave Research report about second quarter 2003 IT spending, the two biggest product categories that will experience growth are server hardware (23 percent of those polled in ChangeWave's research said that they plan to upgrade or buy new server hardware) and NAS (10 percent said they plan to purchase NAS devices). My opinion is that most of this server and NAS growth is a direct result of server consolidation projects. In fact, over 60 percent of our Webcast audience is currently active in planning a major storage consolidation project. Only 10 percent of the Webcast audience said that they've completed their consolidation projects.

In a future commentary, I plan to tackle some of the interesting questions posed during future Webcasts. Until then, I encourage you to listen to the Webcast archive (http://www.winnetmag.com/seminars/nas ).