Move over EMC, IBM, and Sun Microsystems! A new player might soon join the game. According to a report by CNET News.com, Microsoft has formed a new storage business unit and is actively considering developing storage products.

Microsoft executive Bob Muglia heads the software giant's Enterprise Storage Services Group. Muglia, who's part of Microsoft's Senior Leadership Team, has been with the company since 1988. He's been involved in managing the development of many important products, including Microsoft Office, Pocket PCs, Windows Server, and the Visual Studio (VS) development-tool family. Most recently, Muglia led Microsoft's .NET Service Group. Putting this executive in charge of Microsoft's storage effort shows that the company is serious about becoming more involved in the storage industry. According to Muglia's biography page on Microsoft's Web site, the Enterprise Storage Services group is in charge of developing a "a cohesive product and business strategy for the evolution of Microsoft file systems, network attached storage (NAS), storage area network (SAN), backup, continuous availability, and storage resource management."

Muglia was named senior vice president of the new storage group late last year, but very little information has emerged about the unit. According to a CNET News.com interview with Jim Allchin, group vice president, the storage group is early in its development. "\[Businesses\] pay a lot (for storage) and are concerned with storage ... That whole world is super-confusing, and there are some things we can do that customers would love," Allchin told the interviewer.

A Microsoft move into the storage industry could have far-reaching effects. Microsoft has the money and resources to take on industry heavyweights. According to the International Data Corporation (IDC), the storage-software market generated $5.6 billion in sales in 2001 and will reach $9 billion in sales by 2004.

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