Storage UPDATE, December 8, 2003

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1. Commentary

- Not Ready for Prime Time: The $250 NAS Device

2. News and Views

- IBM: We Want EMC's Customers

- NetApp Expands Products and Partnerships

3. Announcements

- New--Test-Drive Our Performance Portal!

- Free eBook--Migrating to Windows Server 2003, Active Directory, and Exchange 2003

- Take Our Print Publications Survey!

4. Resource

- Windows Backup Utility Does Not Succeed When You Use a USB Tape Drive

5. Event

- New--3 Microsoft Security Road Shows!

6. New and Improved

- Online Configurator for Storage Subsystems

- Tell Us About a Hot Product and Get a T-Shirt!

7. Contact Us

- See this section for a list of ways to contact us.

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==== 1. Commentary: Not Ready for Prime Time: The $250 NAS Device ====

by Mark Smith, [email protected]

On Thanksgiving Day, my 4-year-old laptop died. Its sudden death caused me to panic. "Do I have everything backed up?" I wondered. I'd just finished writing an article about having a good backup; losing my data would have been embarrassing!

Fortunately, I'd recently backed up my Microsoft Office and Intuit Quicken/QuickBooks documents to an HP USB storage device. So after I installed the applications on my new laptop, I restored the data files from the USB storage device and I was back in business.

I'd recently synchronized my Microsoft Outlook data (e.g., contacts, to-do list, tasks, memos, calendar) with my Treo 600 smartphone. I installed the Treo synchronization software on my laptop, then synchronized the Treo 600 with my new laptop, and within a few minutes all my Outlook data was restored to my new laptop. Another success.

My saved email was the one bugaboo in this scenario--I didn't have a recent backup. I'd intended to install Microsoft Small Business Server (SBS) and back up everything to the server. But because of the holiday, I'd put off that chore. So, a few days after Thanksgiving, I took my laptop to Best Buy, where technicians used Roxio Retrieve to recover all the data on my laptop's hard disk and put it on a couple of DVDs. Best Buy charged me $100 for this service.

Determined not to have a repeat of this situation, I searched Best Buy's shelves for a device that could provide backup storage for all four of my home-office machines. Most of the storage options on the market are designed to back up one computer. However, for $249 I purchased XIMETA's NetDisk, a 160GB Network Direct Attached Storage (NDAS) device.

At first, NetDisk seemed like a bargain--no need for peer-to-peer (P2P) networking or a $1000 dedicated file server. Unfortunately, the device didn't work out as I had hoped.

XIMETA's Web site ( http://www.ximeta.com ) explains that NetDisk isn't a NAS device but an NDAS device. It isn't a dedicated server but relies instead on the computers attached to the network to handle file processing. To install NetDisk, I used a standard Ethernet cable to connect the device to my Microsoft Wi-Fi 802.11g router. Then, I loaded the NetDisk driver on each of my PCs and entered the unique NetDisk drive ID. After the driver installed, the desktop OS assigned NetDisk a drive letter and the device appeared as a 160GB NTFS volume in Windows XP.

Because NetDisk doesn't include its own server, I had to load a driver on each network computer that I wanted to be able to access the device. Standard NAS devices don't require this process or any client software other than the built-in Microsoft networking-client software. Another difference between NetDisk and a standard NAS device is the read/write control. All computers on the network can read or write to a NAS device at the same time, but only one user can write to NetDisk at any given time. The NetDisk driver has an option that lets users gain write control. If another PC already has write control, NetDisk prompts that PC with the message, "Release NetDisk write control?" and someone must physically be at the computer to answer the prompt. Because my other computer was upstairs, this requirement was a big hassle. XIMETA claims that it will update its driver in the future to include simultaneous write control from multiple PCs.

I ran into another problem when I tested the device with my new HP Centrino-based laptop, which includes a built-in 802.11b WiFi adapter. XIMETA recommends that your wireless connection be at least 802.11a or 802.11g; 802.11b is too slow for large file transfers, and such transfers to NetDisk will simply fail. I tried several times to transfer a directory with about 4GB of small files. Each time, the transfer ended abruptly and didn't offer a recovery option.

I also tested a PC that was directly attached to the Wi-Fi router. Theoretically, this transfer should take place at the full 100Mbps switched-router speed. A 2GB file copy took about 2 minutes and completed successfully. Feeling confident, I tried copying 40GB of video files from the same PC to the NetDisk device. The first attempt resulted in a blue screen. The second attempt hung the OS. After these two failures, I gave up on the 40GB file-transfer test.

I then tested a laptop configured with an 802.11g Wi-Fi card. I tried copying about 500MB of MP3 files to the NetDisk device. As with the 802.11b test, the copy process halted during the file transfer. However, after a prompt acknowledged that the NetDisk had disconnected from the local PC, the NetDisk automatically reconnected and the copy process continued and finished. This test wasn't perfect by any means, but it at least provided a better result than the 802.11b test did.

I applaud XIMETA for producing a low-cost NAS device for the small office/home office (SOHO) market. Unfortunately, this version of the product isn't ready for prime time, and I can't recommend it. As more people acquire multiple home PCs, the need for networked backup will increase. Today you can use several storage options, such as a dedicated server or Windows file sharing, to create a P2P environment and copy files from one networked PC to another. But a low-cost NAS device would be valuable for many users.

==== 2. News and Views ====

by Keith Furman, [email protected]

IBM: We Want EMC's Customers

A recent move by IBM indicates that the company wants EMC's customers. IBM has launched a storage-migration program that's designed to help customers migrate from EMC storage servers to IBM storage servers. The company has distributed to more than 100 consultants migration tools that make migrating data to IBM storage systems easy for customers by speeding up migration and eliminating downtime. "We have been seeing increased customer interest in replacing high-cost, proprietary EMC storage products with IBM storage solutions. This migration program is designed to help customers realize the substantial technology and cost benefits offered by IBM storage products," said Dan Colby, general manager of IBM Storage Systems.

IBM's migration initiative involves three key points: evaluating customers' current storage infrastructures and providing new solutions that increase performance and lower the cost of ownership, recommending storage options to fulfill customer needs, and using patent-pending IBM technology to migrate data from old EMC systems to new IBM storage systems without interruptions. One component of the migration tools appears to be a new storage appliance, but the company has released few details about the process. The migration program is available now from IBM and its business partners.

http://www.storage.ibm.com

NetApp Expands Products and Partnerships

Network Appliance (NetApp), which is facing increasing competition from competitors such as Microsoft and its partners, has unveiled new products and partnerships. The new efforts concentrate on storage consolidation, data-center operations, business continuance, and distributed enterprise applications. "Listening to and working closely with those customers, we have created robust new solutions to manage, store, access, and protect different categories of data that power distinct parts of their businesses--at performance, price, and availability levels that meet unique data needs," said CEO Dan Warmenhoven.

The new products include the introduction of NetApp FAS980 and FAS980c storage systems, added support in NetApp gFiler storage gateway software for unified Network Attached Storage (NAS) and Storage Area Network (SAN) consolidation, and a new NetApp NearStore R200 storage system that provides from 8TB to 96TB of storage capacity.

The company's partnership announcements include agreements with Cisco Systems, FileNet, and VERITAS Software. NetApp will resell Cisco's storage products and certify NetApp products to work with the Cisco MDS 9000 product family. NetApp will work with FileNet to integrate FileNet EMC solutions with NetApp solutions. The NetApp and VERITAS agreement includes joint development, sales, support, and marketing efforts.

http://www.netapp.com

==== 3. Announcements ====

(from Windows & .NET Magazine and its partners)

New--Test-Drive Our Performance Portal!

The Windows & .NET Magazine Performance Portal site is an online service that lets IT professionals test client/server scalability and application performance of client/server database, workflow, streaming media, and office productivity applications. Check out this innovative service at

http://perform.winnetmag.com

Free eBook--Migrating to Windows Server 2003, Active Directory, and Exchange 2003

Are you planning to migrate from Windows 2000, Windows NT 4.0, Exchange 2000 Server, or Exchange Server 5.5? Reduce your learning curve by implementing practices that have proven effective in the field. Download this eBook today!

http://www.windowsitlibrary.com/ebooks/migrating/index.cfm?pc=ebkitl

Take Our Print Publications Survey!

To help us improve the hardware and software product coverage in the Windows & .NET Magazine print publications, we need your opinion about what products matter most to you and your organization. The survey takes only a few minutes to finish, so share your thoughts with us at

http://websurveyor.net/wsb.dll/12237/editorsproduct.htm

==== 4. Resource ====

Windows Backup Utility Does Not Succeed When You Use a USB Tape Drive When you use Ntbackup to back up to an AIT tape drive that has a USB 2.0 interface, the backup operation might fail and present an error message saying that an inconsistency was encountered on the media. For more information about this problem and its solution, go to the following URL:

http://support.microsoft.com/?kbid=817765

==== 5. Event ====

(brought to you by Windows & .NET Magazine)

New--3 Microsoft Security Road Shows!

Don't miss out on three new Security Road Show events in December. Join industry guru Mark Minasi, and learn more about tips to secure your Windows Server 2003 and Windows 2000 network. There is no charge for this event, but space is limited, so register today!

http://www.winnetmag.com/roadshows/security2003dec

==== 6. New and Improved ====

by Renee Munshi, [email protected]

Online Configurator for Storage Subsystems

Seagate Technology and Avnet Applied Computing Solutions launched the Avnet FastBuild Storage online configurator, a new way for Value Added Resellers (VARs), solution builders, and OEMs to quickly create customized storage subsystems based on Seagate hard disks and Windows Storage Server 2003. Using the Avnet FastBuild Storage online configurator, solution providers can configure Storage Area Network (SAN) and RAID storage using components from Seagate, LSI Logic, and Promise Technology. Solution providers can also configure Network Attached Storage (NAS) and NAS/Storage Area Network (SAN) gateway servers built on Windows Storage Server 2003. For more information about Avnet FastBuild Storage online configurator, visit the Avnet Web site. For more information about Seagate products, visit the Seagate Web site.

http://www.avnetfastbuild.com

http://www.seagate.com

Tell Us About a Hot Product and Get a T-Shirt!

Have you used a product that changed your IT experience by saving you time or easing your daily burden? Tell us about the product, and we'll send you a Windows & .NET Magazine T-shirt if we write about the product in a future Windows & .NET Magazine What's Hot column. Send your product suggestions with information about how the product has helped you to [email protected]

==== Sponsored Links ====

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===================

==== 7. Contact Us ====

About the commentary -- [email protected]

About the newsletter -- [email protected]

About technical questions -- http://www.winnetmag.com/forums

About product news -- [email protected]

About your subscription -- [email protected]

About sponsoring UPDATE -- [email protected]

Copyright 2003, Penton Media, Inc.

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