Microsoft has introduced Windows Storage Server 2003 - a technology formerly known as Windows Powered Network Attached Storage (NAS) - and the Server Appliance Kit. The kit helps vendors create NAS appliances that use an embedded version of Windows Server 2003. The software, which is expected to ship to OEMs in September, was announced at Microsoft’s Tech Ed conference in Dallas this week. It will be released to manufacturing later this month. Windows Storage Server 2003 has several new features that both enhance its performance and expand its capabilities. It can be used to make NAS appliances with capacities ranging from 160Gbytes to multiple terabytes, and includes shadow copies of data taken at specific points in time. The software also supports Distributed File System, server clustering up to eight NAS appliances, Multipath I/O technology and iSCSI. Multipath I/O (MPIO) is used in storage area networks and allows numerous paths between servers and storage to be assigned for redundancy and load balancing. It is important to users who are using NAS appliances to join block-level SAN storage arrays to an Ethernet network. With Volume Shadow Copy services, users can schedule snapshots of data that will take place at any time of the day or week. The shadow copy capability is part of the company’s Volume Shadow Copy Service (VSS), which allows quick backup and recovery of corrupted data to disk. As many as 512 point-in-time copies can be kept. It also lets users directly restore files for themselves. Network File System (NFS) performance has improved from the previous release by 35 percent to 50 percent, claimed Microsoft. The iSCSI protocol will be supported on target NAS appliances running Windows 2000 and Windows 2003. The company has already said that EMC would be one of the first vendors to implement Windows Storage Server 2003 in September.