FalconStor Unveils Storage Software for SMBs; FalconStor Software's iSCSI Storage Server is specifically designed to integrate with Microsoft Windows Storage Server 2003.

Buoyed by the release of its iSCSI Storage Server on Monday, FalconStor Software Inc. is enabling small and midsize businesses (SMB) to reap the benefits of a SAN (storage area network) without having to go through the Fiber Channel learning curve.

Introduced at the Storage Decisions Conference here, the iSCSI Storage Server is specifically designed to integrate with Microsoft Windows Storage Server 2003. The software package offers file and block services and is ideally suited for customers running Redmond, Wash.-based Microsoft Corp.'s Windows platform, Microsoft SQL Server, or Microsoft Exchange Server.

ISCSI Storage Server is powered by FalconStor's IPStor storage consolidation product, according to John Lallier, vice president of technology for Melville, N.Y.-based FalconStor. IPStor allows users to provision different types of storage devices, IP-based SANs, or Fiber Channel SANs, and add a variety of services to the management layer. These services include SAN-based snapshots, data replication, backup enablement and restore to application hosts attached to an IP/iSCSI network, noted Lallier.

The management console of iSCSI Storage Server takes advantage of a built-in Web user interface of Windows Storage Server 2003.

Since remote sites and small enterprise shops traditionally have had very little in the way of services geared toward storage, FalconStor's iSCSI Storage Server should provide a big boost in terms of central management, said analyst Mike Karp of Boulder, Colo.-based Enterprise Management Associates.

The iSCSI Storage Server offers "a level of services that basically Windows [and SMB] environments have not had access to," said Karp. "This now gives them an opportunity for some protection. The fit is good."

He continued, "Microsoft server in itself has never been regarded by IT as a 'robust environment'; this may be one way that [customers can] hedge their bets ... [if] they want to stay with Windows, but they want to protect themselves with the known warts Windows has."

Microsoft's dominance among the SMB populace moving into more complex storage and SAN environments is getting a shot in the arm due to the software giant's strong push for iSCSI, making the technology more palatable and more widely adopted, say analysts.

FalconStor aims to keep pace by connecting the dots away from Fiber Channel technology, said Lallier.

"Microsoft has the iSCSI Initiator. By making it part of Windows, [customers] need something to connect to, so we're providing the target," he remarked.

Software initiators supported for iSCSI Storage Server include Microsoft initiators for Windows 2000, Windows Server 2003, and Windows XP. FalconStor will develop and release a DSM for Microsoft's Multipath I/O in the 'near future.'

Pricing for iSCSI Storage Server starts under $2,000.

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