According to a Microsoft spokesperson, the company is "looking into" supporting network-attached storage (NAS) for Exchange because its customers have expressed a need for that type of support.
Many users have deployed NAS and Microsoft Exchange 5.5, say analysts. Some are looking to increase the amount of users per server, get more storage space for e-mail volume, and have backup/restore capability. Although users are marrying the two technologies, Microsoft Exchange was never designed to be deployed with NAS, according to Microsoft officials. Hence, users may encounter problems when deploying NAS and Exchange.
Problems include issues with Exchange's installable file system that runs in the kernel mode, says Zane Adam, Microsoft's lead product manager for its embedded and appliance platforms group. "We've seen basic issues that are potentially there, and that's why we've said that NAS is not a supported product," says Adam. "Our official stance is that we do not support it."
Exchange designed to be used with direct-attached storage (DAS) or storage area networks (SANs), and Microsoft recommends that its Exchange customers use it in these supported configurations.
But Microsoft is not turning a blind eye to what its users want. According to Adam, Exchange customers have expressed a need for NAS support. "We're trying to figure out what needs to be taken care of and then a timeline of when it will be done," he says.
However, NetApp claims that it has a solution in its new SnapManager for Exchange 2000. "Exchange is a very powerful platform," says Chris Bennett, director of hardware product marketing at NetApp. "It's also very complex, and like anything that is very large, powerful, and complex, it can sometimes hiccup." One particular "hiccup" is a potential for the NAS-Exchange environment to corrupt databases, according to NetApp. Snap Manager is designed to restore the database via snapshot technology.