Exchange 2003 adds new storage support

The newest version of Microsoft's messaging platform now lets users access their servers using Internet Small Computer Systems Interface (iSCSI) and network attached storage (NAS) software.

Microsoft last week gave Exchange 2003 customers another, possibly less expensive, way to connect to their storage servers.

Users of Microsoft's latest messaging platform can now access their servers using Internet Small Computer Systems Interface (iSCSI) and network attached storage (NAS) software. The iSCSI storage networking standard is used to support storage traffic on IP networks. Microsoft will endorse vendors that make NAS devices that qualify under its "Designed for Windows" logo program.

Analysts said that by providing iSCSI support for Exchange 2003, IT administrators are given more options for connecting to their information. The fact that iSCSI uses IP means it's cheaper and doesn't require hardware other than an IP switch to make a connection, said Brian Babineau, an analyst at Enterprise Storage Group, a Milford, Mass.-based consulting firm.

Having (NAS) with print and file was nice, but now customers want it for their bigger Microsoft applications.
Brian Babineau, analyst, Enterprise Storage Group,

Microsoft already offers iSCSI drivers for free, so when it starts to offer more interoperability with partners and more applications, it's giving customers a chance to use these giveaways, Babineau said.

"Customers want more with [network attached storage] and with iSCSI, with SQL Server and Exchange," Babineau said. "Having it with print and file was nice, but now customers want it for their bigger Microsoft applications."

Others agreed.

"This offers new choices to the medium and smaller organizations, where fiber channel has been cost prohibitive, and more options to the enterprise," said Lee Benjamin, an independent consultant and messaging expert.

Benjamin said that while Exchange is not supported on NAS, iSCSI is a cross between SAN and NAS and removes those limitations. "It is great to see formal support from Microsoft for iSCSI on Exchange servers," he said.

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