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A Collection of Random Thoughts
Friday, March 31, 2006
Disappointing news from Microsoft
Yeah, I know. I usually write good things about Microsoft. I'm fairly entrenched in Microsoft technology, and on the whole, it's pretty good. I get along with it pretty well, at any rate. This, however, is one thing I just don't understand.

First, I have previously written about Stringbean Software's iscsi Target server software labeled WinTarget. It provided iscsi server functionality, allowing one to define new targets (viewed as LUN's) both using file-based targets, or volume-based targets. It has worked very well for us and has allowed us to achieve SAN functionality (shared storage being the key aspect here) at a much lower cost than a traditional SAN with fiber connectivity.

I recently found out that WinTarget had been acquired by Microsoft, and that Microsoft was integrating the WinTarget functionality into Windows Storage Server 2003 R2. That, I thought, was GREAT news. Now for the bad news. As with the original release of Windows Storage Server, WSS R2 will ONLY be available through OEM's. This means that in order to get WSS R2, you will have to buy a new server. Oh, and not just any server. There are only certain models of servers that OEM's will bundle with WSS R2, so you can't just get it with any server. This to me means that you can no longer use it as you previously could. Reducing availability is usually NOT a good thing.

Why is this so disappointing to me? For one, since WinTarget has been acquired by Microsoft, although it may not be impossible to acquire new licenses of the standalone WinTarget software (Stringbean's website says to contact a Solution Provider or OEM solution partner), it's certainly going to be harder. Having looked at most if not all of the partners they list, none of them list the WinTarget software as a separate SKU. Just about all of the partners are storage partners that sell SAN's.

I had really looked forward to seeing how WSS R2 worked with iscsi target functionality built-in. It doesn't look like I'll get to try it out any time soon. Those of you that get to play with this - please let me know how you like it.

Oh, Shola Aluko blogged about this yesterday here, but my comment hasn't shown up yet, which is making me wonder if they moderated the comment and refused to post it. Note: It wasn't an obscene comment - I don't do those. I'll check back later to see if it ever shows up.

Update: Yes, my comment finally showed up. Now you can see it really wasn't too inflammatory. BTW - it seems some of the other iScsi software vendors are viewing this news about WinTarget as an extremely rare present that has just been dropped in their laps. That seems to cement for me that WinTarget was likely the leading software-based iscsi server solution. That just makes this more disappointing to me, as the end-user who doesn't wish to buy a new server will now have to settle for second-best.
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