Microsoft partners for storage management

In an effort to increase the number of Windows-driven storage products, Microsoft Corp. on Monday announced a licensing agreement with WQuinn Associates Inc. to embed the company's StorageCentral SRM software in Microsoft's Server Appliance kits.

The agreement will make WQuinn's NAS (network attached storage) tools available to manufacturers such as Dell Computer Corp. and Compaq Computer Corp., which in turn will be able to create manageable NAS servers that run Windows 2000, according to Steven Toole, vice president of marketing for WQuinn, based in Reston, Virginia.

WQuinn's software tools, which Microsoft has been using in-house for its own NAS servers, help network administrators see how storage is being used. The software identifies unneeded files, such as downloaded MP3 files of unnecessary attachments, so they can be deleted, making room for more critical data by optimizing exiting storage.

"It's a sign of the times that Microsoft is in the storage game," Toole said. "It's also a pretty stark admission by hardware vendors that you still need storage management software.

"With the soft economy, people are waking up and saying, 'Let's make better use of our storage hardware,' rather than invest in new equipment," Toole said.

Network administrators accustomed to managing a Windows environment prefer to add NAS servers that run Windows, even if the NAS systems serve clients running multiple operating systems such as Linux or Unix, Toole said.

This strategy to move Windows onto NAS servers is the most recent move of many by Microsoft to gain acceptance in all areas of an enterprise computing network. Last month Microsoft began aggressively developing Windows solutions for the Unisys ES-7000 32-way server with the intent to push the Unix operating platform out of the data center.

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