Software turns Windows servers into iSCSI targets

By Dave Simpson

Start-up String Bean Software, in Montgomery Village, MD, is taking a unique approach to iSCSI storage area networks (SANs) with its WinTarget software, which enables any Windows server with local disk to be treated as an iSCSI target--including network-attached storage (NAS) filers based on Windows Storage Server 2003. The software is targeted at small to medium-sized businesses (SMBs).

Because the WinTarget software is integrated with Windows, users can leverage the Windows Disk Management tools in an iSCSI SAN environment. The software was released (and the company was officially launched) this week.

"WinTarget software allows a Windows server to share its local disk resources over an Ethernet network via iSCSI," explains Thieu Le, president and CTO of String Bean, "and you don't need specialized hardware [although WinTarget can be used in conjunction with some iSCSI accelerator cards]." Features include support for dynamic LUNs, IPSec encryption for security, and iSNS for iSCSI SAN management.

WinTarget is priced at $250 per server client; an unlimited client license is available for $2,500.

The company claims to have more than 250 beta sites, but one of its early licensees may provide the start-up with even greater visibility: Microsoft has licensed WinTarget for internal use.

Although WinTarget can convert any Windows server into an iSCSI target, initial appeal for the software may lie in its ability to convert NAS filers based on Windows Storage Server 2003 into "unified storage" devices that support both block-level iSCSI (SAN) and file-level NAS.

Network Appliance pioneered the trend toward unified storage more than a year ago and now claims to have more than 300 customer sites running iSCSI in conjunction with its NAS filers.

More recently, Snap Appliance announced support for iSCSI in its GuardianOS 3.0 operating system, which runs on all of the company's Snap Server NAS filers.

And FalconStor Software recently began shipments of its iSCSI Storage Server software, which is designed for NAS filers based on Windows Storage Server 2003. "We've added an iSCSI block layer to existing NAS features," explains John Lallier, vice president of technology at FalconStor.

iSCSI Storage Server is a stripped-down version of FalconStor's flagship IPStor software and includes IPStor features such as replication, synchronous mirroring, snapshots, a backup enabler, and storage provisioning. The software also supports Microsoft's Volume Shadow Copy Service (VSS).

This article was originally published on May 17, 2004