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Delving into two recent Microsoft announcements

Sep 17, 20033 mins
Enterprise ApplicationsMicrosoft

* A look at Automated Deployment Services and Windows Storage Server 2003

Microsoft made a couple of announcements this month. A couple that are of interest to network managers, that is. There were probably dozens of other announcements (of new services, products, bug fixes and so on) that were made (who can keep up with it all?) but these two deserve your attention.

First out of the box was Automated Deployment Services (ADS), the first system imaging technology available from Microsoft. It supports the automatic and simultaneous installation of Windows 2000 and 2003 “images” to multiple servers that have no operating system installed.

The ADS announcement slipped out right after Labor Day (Sept. 1 here in the U.S.) and may have escaped your notice. But it is interesting both in itself and for what it portends in the future.

As my colleague John Fontana said in his article about the release (, “ADS, which is based on the SDM model, is the second release under the DSI banner.”

If you understood that sentence, you can skip ahead. For the rest of you, here’s the translation: ADS, which is based on the System Definition Model (an XML-based technology that will be built into applications, the operating system and management tools), is the second release under the Dynamic Systems Initiative (designed to create a platform to support a self-managing environment built around applications that can communicate their management needs to the network). Now you see why it’s important?

This is one of the first building blocks of Microsoft’s venture into the autonomic computing arena – a place where “…networked resources, including PCs, servers and software, will take care of themselves – handle configuration, identify and fix ailments, allocate and optimize resources, and protect themselves from harm.” (See Network World Fusion’s Encyclopedia at .) This will be Really Big over the next couple of years, so you’d best pay attention.

The second announcement I want to mention was made just last week when Microsoft sent Windows Storage Server (WSS) 2003 out the door. The release was formally unveiled at Microsoft TechEd in June, and the general press is paying little attention to what’s being dubbed a “file and print” service. But the reality is much bigger.

WSS 2003 is an operating system for network-attached storage devices and it is available both to end users and hardware manufacturers (Dell, HP, etc.). It’s a strong thrust into a market that has been overwhelmingly Linux-based up until now because no one wanted to install Windows Server (either 2000 or 2003), with all of its attendant services, just to have a stand-alone, “plug-it-in-and-go” storage device.

The Linux based devices were (and are) OK, as long as nothing goes wrong. When it does, you might appreciate having a familiar Windows environment to deal with. You can get all the details from , but the major points are:

* Support of eight-node server clustering.

* Support of Distributed File System and Volume Shadow Copy for point-in-time copies.

* Ability to scale from 160G-byte to more than 40 terabytes (We’ve come a long way from my first server, back in 1986, that supported a whopping 10 megabytes).