Reviewing Microsoft WSS (Windows Storage Server 3.0) was in many ways an unusual testing activity. I’m used to seeing NAS appliances and their OS as a single entity, but WSS is detached from an actual hardware configuration.
Moreover, although Microsoft is readying the product for shipment to partners and OEMs, actual products based on WSS are not yet on the market, hence I could not borrow an evaluation appliance from a storage vendor as I normally would.
To solve this chicken-and-egg dilemma, Microsoft sent me an evaluation unit with WSS preinstalled. The machine featured a 2GHz processor, 1GB of RAM, and four 40GB IDE drives, plus two 10-100Mbps NICs. This setup doesn’t make for a speed-demon but is a decent configuration for an entry-level NAS.
In this scenario, any testing that targets hardware features such as performance or capacity would be inappropriate, because actual NAS solutions will be based on different and likely more powerful hardware.
Instead, I chose review criteria that are not hardware-dependent configurations and are not related to a purchase price. I focused on how WSS supports existing data sharing protocols, how it facilitates the work of storage administrators, the security protection offered, how well it integrates into an existing environment, and how easy is to get a WSS-based NAS ready for work.