EMC Building Windows Server 2003 APIs into Storage Platform

EMC Corp. this week unveiled a large commitment to supporting Microsoft Windows technologies throughout its line of storage products.

The announcement at the EMC Enterprise Technology Summit in Las Vegas follows Microsoft's launch late last week of Windows Server 2003. The companies are renewing a partnership begun three years ago at the launch of Windows 2000.

EMC will integrate some of the new storage APIs related to Windows Server 2003 into its storage platforms, making it easier for users accustomed to Windows to use EMC's storage capabilities. The companies also signed a license agreement under the antitrust-mandated Microsoft Communication Protocol Licensing Program to allow protocol interoperability between EMC storage devices and Windows client PCs. In addition, EMC is licensing Microsoft's Windows NAS software for a new family of EMC NAS products that will represent the new entry-level NAS device for the storage giant.

The decision by EMC, the market's largest independent storage vendor, to support some of the storage-related enhancements in Windows Server 2003 effectively gives a stamp of approval to some of Redmond's design decisions on storage in the new operating system. The storage-related enhancements to Windows Server 2003 that EMC is most interested in exploiting are Volume Shadow Copy Service (VSS), Virtual Disk Service (VDS) and multipath I/O (MPIO).

The Volume Shadow Copy service is Microsoft's infrastructure for creating a point-in-time copy of a single volume or multiple volumes. It is used for managing data from direct-attached storage to SANs and coordinates with business applications, backup applications, and storage hardware to enable application-aware data management. A related shadow copy restore feature allows Windows-based client computers to recover previous versions of files without IT intervention. A demonstration of shadow copy restore at the Windows Server 2003 launch last week was one of the biggest crowd pleasers.

EMC is also choosing to use the APIs for the Virtual Disk service (VDS), an important validation because the service allows users to discover multivendor storage devices and configure them through a unified interface.

The storage giant is also using Microsoft's multipath I/O (MPIO) Driver Development Kit to create a multipathing solution. A high availability function, multipathing provides multiple paths from the host to the external storage device. Microsoft supports up to 32 paths and load balancing.

The new line of Network Attached Storage (NAS) devices from EMC based on the Windows operating system is planned for availability in Q3. Called the EMC NetWin 200, the NAS device will be a combination of Microsoft Windows technology and EMC's Clariion networked storage platform. The devices are expected to start at $50,000.

About the Author

Scott Bekker is editor in chief of Redmond Channel Partner magazine.