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Storage

Microsoft gains ground in storage

The software giant says its market share for Windows in network-attached storage devices rose 8 percent in the first quarter to 41 percent.

In a sign that Microsoft is making strides in the storage arena, the market share for Windows in network-attached storage devices rose 8 percent in the first quarter to 41 percent.

Microsoft trumpeted the increase Monday in a press release, citing data from market research firm IDC. IDC analyst Brad Nisbet confirmed the Redmond, Wash.-based company's gain and said it was driven partly by sales of Windows-powered network-attached storage (NAS) gear from Dell Computer.

But Nisbet cautioned that Windows-powered NAS devices tend to be lower-end machines. In 2002, he said, such equipment accounted for 32 percent of all NAS unit shipments but just 12 percent of overall NAS revenue, which totaled $1.49 billion. NAS refers to storage gear that connects to other devices via a local area network, typically one with Ethernet connections.

Companies selling NAS gear with operating systems other than Windows include Snap Appliance and Network Appliance, Nisbet said.

Microsoft credited its market share gain to the adoption of Windows-based NAS devices by both large and small companies. "More and more enterprise organizations are tapping into the outstanding reliability and economics of Windows-powered NAS," said Zane Adam, director of product management in Microsoft's enterprise storage division. "And with the new sub-$1,000 Windows-powered NAS appliances, we are continuing to gain ground on our competition in the (small-to-medium business) market as well."

NAS technology often is used by smaller companies or work groups within large organizations. NAS made up 11 percent of the $3.2 billion spent on external disk storage systems in the first quarter of 2003, according to IDC. Storage area network (SAN) equipment, which refers to storage devices connected to server computers typically through the Fibre Channel protocol, made up 47 percent. Direct-attached storage devices, which are linked to just one server, made up 42 percent.

Microsoft has been working to become a player in the storage scene as part of an effort to explore new markets. Recently the company forged a deal with EMC in which the storage giant agreed to incorporate Windows into a lower-end NAS product.