Drive Extender Removed from Windows Home Server 

In “Microsoft Hobbles Next Windows Home Server” (November 24, 2010, InstantDoc ID 129054), Paul Thurrott comments on Microsoft's removal of Drive Extender from WHS. He writes, “While Drive Extender was previously used only in a niche product, WHS, Microsoft's intention was to move it forward to more mainstream Windows Server and then Windows client versions. The benefits were to be enormous: Drive Extender could be used to silently and seamlessly ensure that each file in storage is replicated across two physical hard disks, helping to prevent data loss in the event of a hardware failure, and doing so without the complexities of RAID. And Drive Extender's storage pooling largely eliminated the need for drive letters, simplifying storage allocation dramatically.” I think the Drobo products have shown that RAID doesn’t have to be complex. And Data Robotics' BeyondRAID technology beats the heck out of whatever Microsoft is doing with WHS. Microsoft really should license the technology.

—Bill Sweatt

 

Mobile Device Management

I read Brian Winstead’s two articles regarding Exchange backup software and Zenprise (Buyer’s Guide: Exchange Server Backup and Recovery Software, November 2010, InstantDoc ID 126058 and "Management for Employee-Owned Mobile Devices," Exchange and Outlook Blog, August 19, 2010). I like the way Zenprise goes about blurring the line between corporate and employee-owned mobile devices, and it seems like the product should be the no-brainer product of choice. But if I recall, Zenprise's pricing model leaves it beyond reach of most SMBs. Take my small firm, for example, which has 35 employees and about 28 different smartphones plugging into our Exchange infrastructure. Can you suggest an affordable solution that will allow me to enforce basic encryption, device lock, and remote wipe? Is Exchange ActiveSync my only option as an SMB IT pro?

—Dotan Akiva

 

The mobile device management products I've looked at do seem to be aimed more at mid-to-enterprise companies. To be honest, I don't usually ask vendors about the cost of their products when I speak with them because cost can be kind of slippery. How much a company actually pays might come down to what kind of deal they can negotiate, and some vendors have a different scale depending on the size of company making the purchase. However, your question has made me see how important it is to think about the cost since that's such a key factor in which companies can truly benefit from a solution.

Unfortunately, I haven't seen any mobile device management products that really seem to focus on smaller businesses. You're right, however, that you can use Exchange ActiveSync (EAS) to get the level of control you're asking about—the implementation, of course, won't be quite as simple as with something like the Zenprise product. If you haven't seen this already, there's a great post on the Exchange team blog at about EAS and how different devices support its various policies; note particularly the link to the wiki, which gives you a nice table of the different smartphone OSs and the EAS policies you can control on each of them.

Brian Keith Winstead