Storage vendors to support Microsoft driver

Microsoft is letting down a drawbridge of sorts, and storage vendors are taking advantage of it. They are getting behind the software giant's new multi-path driver, whichone that will connects Windows servers to a multitude of storage devices.

A number of heavy hitters in the storage management business this week lined up behind a driver from Microsoft that promises better availability between storage devices and Windows servers.

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  • A litany of storage vendors, including EMC Corp., Unisys Corp., Network Appliance Inc. and Veritas Software Corp. said they will support Microsoft's Multipath I/O technology. Microsoft will provide a multi-path driver that will appear in hardware manufactured by these leading storage vendors and others.

    In the past, customers may have used redundant network cards to connect with individual storage devices, but the new driver will provide standard, interoperable paths between storage devices and Windows servers to improve availability, said Rakesh Narasimhan, general manager of strategic partnerships in Microsoft's Enterprise Storage Division.

    "In the direct attached world, it's just one path, but you can have up to 32 paths with this software," Narasimhan said.

    The technology will support the Windows 2000 Server and the upcoming Windows .NET Server 2003, he added.

    For some customers, the prospect of better availability is important even if it isn't the most important feature they are looking for. "It's another advantage," said Cory Hopple, a network administrator at Abbott Labs in Chicago.

    The pharmaceutical company is considering adding network attached storage, but the main advantages it sees are the ability to manage all storage from a single device and having a means of disaster recovery.

    If a vendor's hardware supports it, the Multipath I/O technology will allow for load balancing. It will support Disk and RAID devices in the first release.

    Narasimhan said customers should see data performance improvements with devices that employ the technology. Customers don't have to do anything other than turn on the hardware that supports the Multipath I/O.

    Microsoft said the technology will begin appearing in products in the first quarter of 2003.

    Other vendors that will support the driver include 3PARdata Inc., Agilent Technologies Inc., Egenera Inc., Emulex Corp., Hewlett-Packard Co., Hitachi Ltd., LSI Logic Storage Systems Inc., Maranti Networks Inc., NEC Corp., oPoet Inc., PolyServe Inc., QLogic Corp., Rhapsody Networks Inc., Seagate Technology, Stratus Technologies, Vicom Systems and XIOtech Corp.

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