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Windows Storage Server boosted, killed and resurrected

Folded back into Windows Server

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Microsoft has updated its Windows Storage Server software, ending its existence as a standalone product and folding it back into Windows Server.

Windows Storage Server is/was a special version of Windows Server 2003 and is used by many network-attached storage (NAS) vendors, such as Adaptec.

The just launched Windows Storage Server 2008 is an optional feature of Windows Server 2008, with purchasing and production use restricted to Microsoft's storage OEMs, as was the case with the previous version of the product. Ordinary mortals won't be able to get their hands on it.

As reported here it includes Server Message Block (SMB) 2.0, a new version of CIFS, which reduces the protocol's chattiness by sending multiple SMB commands in the same packet. This lowers the number of packets sent between SMB client and server. It means more link bandwidth for data and less for commands. The Tom's Hardware site shows substantial improvements in throughput because of this.

WSS 2008 also supports much larger buffer sizes compared to SMB 1.0 and better scalability. More files can be open concurrently and a server can handle more file shares.

There is a Storage Manager for SANs (SMfS) for basic administration jobs. The File Server Resource Manager (FSRM) has been upgraded, being given quotas, file screening and better reporting.

The Virtual Disk Service (VDS) features settings to support LUNs being online or offline, and being read-only or not. LUNs can also shrink in size.

The iSCSI target software has been improved, with support for dual-active clustering.

Single-instancing (file-level deduplication) now supports up to 128 volumes per server - it was just six - meaning millions of files. It's performance is apparently good enough for use in production environments. Failover clustering set up now requires just a few point-and-click operations.

There is a remote administration capability via Internet Explorer with a Java-based facility for Linux and Firefox users.

You can find out more at this section of Microsoft's website devoted to Windows Storage Server 2008.

The product is available to manufacturers now, and we might expect Intel-based NAS vendors to be making announcements based on its new features quite quickly. ®

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