Storage UPDATE--Exchange Server Upgrades Drive NAS--March 29, 2004

Storage UPDATE--Exchange Server Upgrades Drive NAS--March 29, 2004

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- Microsoft Exchange Server Upgrade Has Ripple Effect

News and Views

- Adaptec Ships Serial Attached SCSI Controller

- Dell and HP Release New NAS Devices

New and Improved

- 120GB NAS Solution with Print Server

- Backup Software Adds Zip64 Support

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

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==== Commentary ====

by Elliot King, [email protected]

Microsoft Exchange Server Upgrade Has Ripple Effect

As Microsoft continues to encourage and provide incentives for its customers to adopt the latest version of Microsoft Exchange Server, the result is often a two-stage upgrade process, particularly for small businesses. When companies decide to upgrade Exchange, they often redesign their storage infrastructure at the same time, moving from traditional DASD to Network Attached Storage (NAS). To capitalize on this trend, enterprise storage vendors are reworking the way they reach customers and are aggressively working with channel partners to address the small-business arena.

Email is an essential business application, and its impact is impressive. According to one study, corporate employees can typically spend as much as 25 percent of their workday using their email application. Moreover, as much as 45 percent of a company's business-critical information resides in message databases.

The importance of the information generated and stored in email infrastructures is growing at an impressive clip. According to a study by The Radicati Group, a Palo Alto, California-based technology market research firm, the amount of archived email will skyrocket over the next several years as companies struggle to comply with new federal regulations and adhere to internal policies. As an official at the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education noted in a published interview, companies are afraid to throw anything out.

The increasing importance of email and the need to archive email information have placed pressure on the storage infrastructure in three ways. First, email systems must be extremely scalable to accommodate the growing amount of email data. Second, email systems have to be exceptionally reliable--companies can't afford to have their email systems go down. Indeed, if a major telephone service outage and email outage occurred simultaneously and companies had to choose which service would be restored first, many companies would opt to restore email service first. Third, if an email system goes down, companies must be able to recover very quickly. In fact, according to one study, each 0.1 percent of email downtime costs companies $20 per user in lost productivity.

Under these pressures, as smaller companies improve their email infrastructure, they also move from traditional DASD to network-based storage infrastructures, according to Rod Matthews, senior director of Windows marketing at Network Appliance. NAS effectively addresses many of the challenges posed by the growth of email. By centralizing all email data in one location in a network, companies can rationalize backup processes and implement disk-to-disk backup infrastructures. Disk-to-disk backups can lead to more rapid recovery in the event of a system failure.

Moreover, companies that use NAS can cluster Exchange servers so that if one fails, the application can roll over to another server and still access all needed data. Companies can also more easily mirror data in different locations for archiving purposes.

If NAS provides such obvious benefits for email systems, why haven't more small businesses installed NAS? The answer is easy--skills and cost. In the past, small businesses have viewed implementing NAS as too complicated and expensive. But that too is changing. This month, Microsoft announced support for the Internet SCSI (iSCSI) interface within Exchange Server 2003. Coupled with the emergence of high-speed 10Gb Ethernet technology, setting up an effective network-based storage infrastructure for Exchange could be as easy as creating a subnet with a couple of ports on an existing LAN.

Meanwhile, major vendors such as EMC and Network Appliance are launching initiatives that will make their products more accessible to small businesses. Network Appliance has launched product bundles aimed directly at Exchange users and has worked hard with its channel partners to reach small businesses. According to Matthews, Network Appliance's indirect sales have increased by 9 percent in the past year. For its part, EMC has partnered with Dell to reach a broader target audience.

The combination of new Microsoft technology, coupled with the spread of iSCSI support and 10Gb Ethernet, should motivate even small companies to upgrade their storage infrastructures for the foreseeable future. The release of Microsoft SQL Server Yukon technology in 2005, Matthews suggested, should spark a similar upgrade.

On a different note, spring often brings thoughts of attending a trade show or getting some training. For a comprehensive listing of trade shows, conferences, and Web seminars targeted to the IT user, visit our Events Central Web site. Whether you're searching for events by type or topic, you'll find a complete one-stop listing of events to fit your needs. Check it out today.

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==== News and Views ====

by Keith Furman, [email protected]

Adaptec Ships Serial Attached SCSI Controller

Adaptec has shipped a new Serial Attached SCSI controller application-specific integrated circuit (ASIC) to its partners. Adaptec claims that the ASIC is the only Serial Attached SCSI chip to power 4.8GBps data transfer rates (seven times the rate of Ultra320 SCSI).

The chip has eight ports and can scale up to 100-disk-drive configurations, and its power-saving design will enable vendors to build smaller, cooler systems. Adaptec has integrated its HostRAID technology in the ASIC. The integration of HostRAID enables a smooth migration path to Adaptec's direct-attached and networked storage arrays, according to the company. "As storage requirements continue to escalate, demand is growing for higher data transfer rates, greater scalability and fault tolerance, and flexible, easy-to-deploy systems that accommodate both low-cost bulk storage and the performance and reliability demands of mission-critical applications," said Paul Perez, vice president of storage, networking and infrastructure, Industry Standard Servers, HP. "Devices like Adaptec's 8-port Serial Attached SCSI controller chip will help enable systems with these capabilities."

Adaptec tested the new chip at a Serial Attached SCSI plugfest earlier this month. The company plans on using the chip to deliver its own controller cards, as well as be part of solutions from OEMs.

Dell and HP Release New NAS Devices

Last week, computer giants Dell and HP both released new Network Attached Storage (NAS) devices that target small and midsized businesses. Dell's offerings, based on Microsoft Windows Storage Server 2003, have begun shipping, and HP's offerings will start to become available later this month.

Dell announced a new PowerVault 745N NAS 1U (1.75") rack-mounted server, which will replace its current PowerVault 725N. The new system will offer from 160GB to 4TB of storage capacity. Customers will be able to choose Intel Celeron or Pentium 4 processors to power the new system. The system will ship with Web-based management and reporting and software for making snapshot copies of data. The PowerVault 745N storage server starts at $1799.

HP's solutions include a new line of Serial ATA-based HP StorageWorks Modular Smart Array NAS devices scheduled to ship by July. A tape autoloader capable of storing six 72GB DAT cartridges will ship by the end of the month. HP's new small to midsized business solutions also include Storage Area Network (SAN) switches and backup systems.

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==== New and Improved ====

by Renee Munshi, [email protected]

120GB NAS Solution with Print Server

TRITTON Technologies announced the release of its T-NAS storage solution. Operating as a backup device, file server, and USB 2.0 print server, T-NAS provides secure user and group access to shared files and data. The solution is preconfigured for quick installation and offers an easy-to-use browser interface. Addressing the growing need for additional network storage in small and midsized businesses and home offices, T-NAS provides 120GB of instant, secure storage for a suggested retail price of $349.

Backup Software Adds Zip64 Support

Argentum announced Argentum Backup 2.1, backup software that supports the 64-bit extensions (Zip64) that WinZip 9.0 introduced to the .zip file format. Argentum Backup works in conjunction with WinZip 9.0 to back up and restore data on any Windows 2003/XP/2000/NT/Me/98 system. The original .zip file format limits the number of files in a .zip file to 65,535 and the maximum size of a .zip file and any member file to 4GB. The 64-bit format essentially eliminates these restrictions. Argentum Backup 2.1 remains fully compatible with the original .zip format and uses it whenever possible. A single-user license for Argentum Backup costs $25; network, corporate, and site licenses are available.

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