Storage UPDATE, June 23, 2003

Storage UPDATE--June 23, 2003

This Issue Sponsored By

Precise SRM Software Solutions

Windows Scripting Solutions


1. Commentary: Windows Storage Server 2003, Part 2

2. News and Views - CeBIT America: Serial Attached SCSI Demonstrated - Network Appliance Picks Up NAS Patents

3. Announcements - Windows & .NET Magazine Connections: Fall Dates Announced - New Active Directory Web Seminar!

4. Events - Storage Road Show Event Archived!

5. Resources - VERITAS Restore Operation Fails

6. New and Improved - Bring Mirroring Capability to Your Computers - File Server for Enterprise Departments, Workgroups, and Remote Offices - Submit Top Product Ideas

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

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==== 1. Commentary: Windows Storage Server 2003, Part 2 ==== by Mark Smith, [email protected]

In my last commentary, I provided an overview of Windows Storage Server 2003. I also explained how Windows Storage Server was essentially an upgrade of Windows Powered Network Attached Storage (WPNAS) 2.0 and why Microsoft changed the name of the product line. In this commentary, I focus on two new and very important technologies included in Windows Storage Server--Volume Shadow Copy Service (VSS) and Virtual Disk Service (VDS).

VSS and VDS are storage infrastructure services with no UI that let storage hardware and software from various vendors interoperate in Windows. VSS and VDS work by calling providers, storage hardware, software, and applications from Microsoft and third-party vendors. You can configure VSS to use a third-party vendor hardware provider for hardware storage arrays. Hardware providers are available for download from vendor Web sites. Microsoft ships a software provider, VolSnap, in every copy of Windows Storage Server. VSS can work with VolSnap or a registered hardware provider. As an example, let's look at a backup application that initiates a snapshot request. The backup software calls VSS. VSS checks its available providers and executes them in the following order:

First, if a hardware provider exists, that provider executes first.

Second, if no hardware provider exists, VSS looks for a third-party software snapshot provider to execute.

Third, if no third-party software snapshot provider exists, VSS calls VolSnap.

Fourth, the backup application can instruct VSS to override the default snapshot provider execution order and call a specific snapshot provider.

VolSnap works by first creating a 300MB differential area and then recording the point-in-time snapshot. After the first snapshot completes, and before all block-level writes to the snapped volume occur, VolSnap reads the block of information to be changed, writes that block to the DIFF area, then writes the changed block to the appropriate block in the original file on the disk. The differential area can expand and contract as needed.

All VolSnap snapshots are read-only. If you use VolSnap, you can specify where the DIFF area is located, either on the same storage device as the original snapped volume, or you can relocate the area to another volume for improved performance.

The VSS infrastructure is both powerful and flexible and lets products from third-party vendors participate in a Windows Server 2003 environment. However, VSS snapshot providers vary in functionality and speed. For example, Shadow Copy Transport can manipulate large amounts of data rapidly. And a hardware provider attached to a Storage Area Network (SAN) can perform snapshots at extreme speed. As I mentioned in "Windows Storage Server 2003, Part 1" in the June 9 issue of Storage UPDATE, Microsoft demonstrated VSS calling a hardware provider that created a snapshot from a 1.2TB database in less than 1 minute.

VDS is similar to VSS in that VDS provides a management interface for third-party hardware providers that support volume and disk management on third-party devices. For example, let's look at a situation in which you execute a VSS hardware-based snapshot on a SAN. Using VDS, you could change the snapshot LUN from read-only on the SAN to read-write, unmask the LUN to another server, or perform other volume and disk management operations. Although VDS executes on an attached SAN device, all of VDS's functionality initiates from Windows Storage Server 2003.

One example of how third-party NAS and SAN vendors might use VDS is a situation in which you want to convert your Microsoft Exchange Server 5.5 and Windows NT Server environment to Exchange Server 2003 on Windows 2003. The SAN vendor could supply a migration program that uses VDS to automatically configure the SAN with the appropriate-sized LUNs, migrate the data from the source to the target, then automatically configure the snapshot policies and initiate the first snapshot. Application programmers can take advantage of VSS and VDS to manage sophisticated storage scenarios, making the applications more turnkey for the average systems administrator.

CommVault Systems is the first vendor to release a shadow copy management application. CommVault's Shadow Explorer uses VSS- and VDS-supported hardware providers to create and manage snapshots. Shadow Explorer is only the beginning of a generation of third-party shadow copy management applications that will leverage Windows Storage Server for large enterprise storage configurations.

In my next commentary, I'll continue my examination of Windows Storage in "Windows Storage Server 2003, Part 3." I'll give you real-world examples about using Windows Storage Server to make a significant contribution to your enterprise storage infrastructure.


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==== 2. News and Views by Keith Furman, [email protected]

CeBIT America: Serial Attached SCSI Demonstrated Serial Attached SCSI (SAS) was one of the hot technologies at the first CeBIT computer trade show held in the United States last week. (The SCSI Trade Association finalized the SAS standard last month.) The CeBIT America show featured demonstrations and news about SAS by many companies, including Adaptec, Hewlett-Packard (HP), and Seagate Technology. The three companies demonstrated SAS interfaces that support both SAS drives and Serial ATA drivers. The demonstration highlighted Seagate drive prototypes that use Adaptec controllers, which feature 3GBps connections. The companies touted the benefits of compatibility, saying it will provide users with cost-effective data capacity. SAS products are expected to reach the market by the end of 2003.

At CeBIT America, HP announced that it expects to start to change the storage technology in its servers to SAS by mid- to late 2004. The company said it expects SAS storage to cost 15 percent less than today's standard SCSI systems. HP plans on supporting the next-generation SAS 2.0 standard, which is due in 2005 and which will double bandwidth to 6GBps. Later on in the SAS road map, SAS 3.0 will double SAS 2.0's speed..

For more information about the companies and technology described in this article, visit the following Web sites:

Network Appliance Picks Up NAS Patents

Network Appliance (NetApp) announced that it has acquired all of Auspex Systems' patents. The patents cover many Network Attached Storage (NAS) systems technologies, including a patent for a parallel I/O network file server architecture. Auspex filed for bankruptcy in April 2003. NetApp won the patents in a bankruptcy court auction for $8,975,000.

"Increasing our patent portfolio gives us an even stronger technology base to build next-generation NAS, SAN, and Fabric Attached Storage (FAS) systems for the benefit of our enterprise customers," said Dan Warmenhoven, NetApp CEO. Other Auspex patents include patents for fault-tolerant network file system server systems, bridging for direct data storage device access, processing systems with dynamically allocatable buffer memory, and intelligent virtual volume access.

==== 3. Announcements ==== (from Windows & .NET Magazine and its partners)

Windows & .NET Magazine Connections: Fall Dates Announced Jump-start your fall 2003 training plans by securing your seat for Windows & .NET Magazine Connections Fall, scheduled for November 2 through 6, 2003, in Orlando, Florida. Register now to receive the lowest possible registration fee. Call 800-505-1201 or 203-268-3204 for more information.

New Active Directory Web Seminar! Discover how to securely manage Active Directory (AD) in a multiforest environment, establish attribute-level auditing without affecting AD performance, enhance secure permission management with "roles," and more! There's no charge for this event but space is limited--register today!

==== 4. Events ==== (brought to you by Windows & .NET Magazine)

Storage Road Show Event Archived! Couldn't make the HP & Microsoft Network Storage Solutions Road Show? View the taped event archives from your Web browser!

==== 5. Resources ====

VERITAS Restore Operation Fails Forum member Chic has been using VERITAS Software software to restore deleted data from a backup tape. However, when Chic selects the directory to restore, the system reports failure. To lend a helping hand, click the following URL:

==== 6. New and Improved ==== by Carolyn Mader, [email protected]

Bring Mirroring Capability to Your Computers

Addonics Technologies announced the Addonics Combo RAID System, a Serial ATA RAID solution that provides high availability and mirroring capability. The solution combines the Addonics Combo Hard Drive with built-in RAID Level 0/1 functionality. The system includes two IDE Serial ATA converters, one Serial ATA PCI host controller with RAID 0/1 support, two Combo Hard Drive enclosures, and two Combo Hard Drive desktop drive cradles. The Combo RAID System costs $169. Contact Addonics Technologies at 408-433-3899 or [email protected]

File Server for Enterprise Departments, Workgroups, and Remote Offices

Snap Appliance announced the Snap Server 4500, a Network Attached Storage (NAS) system that provides storage in a 1U (1.75") form factor. The system features file sharing and backup for enterprise departments, workgroups, and remote offices. The Snap Server 4500 supports Active Directory Service (ADS), UNIX Network Information Service (NIS), SNMP, and network or local backup. You can purchase the Snap Server 4500 in two capacities: 480GB for $4295 and 720GB for $5795. Contact Snap Appliance at 888-343-7627 or [email protected]

Submit Top Product Ideas

Have you used a product that changed your IT experience by saving you time or easing your daily burden? Do you know of a terrific product that others should know about? Tell us! We want to write about the product in a future What's Hot column. Send your product suggestions to [email protected]

==== Sponsored Links ====

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==== 6. Contact Us ====

About the commentary -– [email protected]

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About product news -- [email protected]

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About sponsoring UPDATE -- [email protected]


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