All Eyes on the Enterprise
General-purpose trade publications have done a good job of (over) covering some of the more visible features in the forthcoming Windows NT 5.0. But those publications have ignored the wealth of storage features being integrated into 5.0. Where it lacked the talent, Microsoft tapped a number of storage-savvy third parties--most notably Eastman, HighGround, Seagate Software, and Veritas--to build a number of "enterprise-level" storage functions into the operating system. In reality, the built-in storage features are only rudimentary starting points; it`s up to third-party software developers, storage hardware vendors, IT shops, and integrators to build onto the core functions.
If Microsoft and its storage partners deliver, it`ll be a lot better than the base storage functionality built into most Unix implementations. For a rundown of the storage stuff in NT 5.0, see our cover story, "NT 5.0 Boosts Enterprise Storage Management."
NT 5.0 will also pose storage challenges in a number of other areas, most notably clusters. NT clusters are still a bit of a joke compared to things like Digital`s OpenVMS clusters or IBM`s Parallel Sysplex, but 5.0 should at least get NT clustering a baby step closer to what the Unix camp offers. And at the heart of any good cluster is a sophisticated storage strategy that exploits clustering`s version of data sharing (see "NT Drives Cluster Adoption").
Sun also rises
Speaking of data sharing--albeit a completely different sort--Sun`s recent thrust into enterprise storage (possible in part because of its acquisition last year of Encore Computer) should pose an interesting threat to enterprise storage incumbents EMC and IBM (see News story). Analysts familiar with the different approaches to sharing data between OS/390, Unix, and NT environments used to give Encore an edge over EMC and IBM, although they`ve recently backed away from those opinions (hmmm, I wonder why). But if the Encore technology does have an edge, there could be a new kid on the data-center storage block.
At Sun`s press conference, COO and #2 Sun worshipper Ed Zander actually said: "This is as important to storage as Java is to the language community." No comment necessary, but coupled with Compaq`s acquisition of Digital, Sun`s enterprise storage foray should make for interesting battles in the land where big iron brontosauruses still play.