Microsoft Ships Windows Storage Server 2003 R2

Microsoft last week shipped the latest version of its NAS solution, Windows Storage Server 2003 R2, to its hardware partners for inclusion in new storage servers. (In the year ahead, it will ship the storage solution to systems builders as well.) Windows Storage Server 2003 R2 is a specially tuned version of Windows Server 2003 R2 that includes only those features needed to facilitate file storage and management.

Unlike most other Windows Server versions, Windows Storage Server 2003 R2 can't be purchased by itself. Instead, you acquire it by buying Windows Storage Server-enabled hardware. This latest version includes three major new features. The first is a Single Instance Storage (SIS) engine that works to reduce disk consumption by transparently copying duplicate files to a SIS Common Store and replacing the originals with reparse points (similar to symbolic links in UNIX). The second major feature is a new full-text search that leverages the Windows Server indexing engine and the client search features in Windows 2000 and Windows XP, providing instantaneous searching of network shares. And the third is a new set of low-level file server performance optimizations that are specific to Storage Server.

Windows Storage Server 2003 R2 is only part of Microsoft's wider storage strategy; other Microsoft server products include dedicated storage functionality as well. For example, Windows Server 2003 R2 features such storage technologies as an upgraded DFS version, a new File Server Resource Manager (FSRM), simple SAN provisioning, and advanced disk quota functionality. A separate server, Microsoft System Center Data Protection Manager (DPM) 2006, provides disk-based data backup and recovery.

Companies such as Dell, HP, and IBM are now selling servers based on Windows Storage Server 2003 R2. Systems are available for virtually every market imaginable, from low-end server appliances to high-end rack-mounted solutions.

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