Research Library

Microsoft Windows Storage NAS Operating System – Product Analysis

Last updated January 30th, 2014. 24-page deep dive into the architecture and capabilities of Microsoft WSS

Microsoft Windows Storage Server (WSS) is software that is deployed on a standard server platform to provide both file and block access to a Network Attached Storage system. Originally available as WSS 2003, the latest version of WSS is based on the Microsoft Windows Server 2012 and is called WSS 2012 R2.

Windows Storage Server 2012 represents many changes from the earlier Microsoft Windows Storage Server 2008 which is pointed out in this document. Standard and Workgroup are now the only editions available, compared to the earlier versions also supporting enterprise and basic editions. As before, WSS is only available from a hardware supplier as the embedded operating system in an appliance.

Products that compete with WSS include other custom NAS operating environments such as EMC’s DART, Network Appliance’s Data ONTAP OS and Isilon IQ, all of which are software operating environments tailored for NAS storage environments.

Windows Storage Server (WSS) 2012 R2 is a network attached storage (NAS) operating system, built upon the Windows Server 2012 operating system. WSS allows original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) to build NAS appliances optimized for file serving. WSS devices are typically headless (no monitor, keyboard or mouse) and can be managed remotely through a Web-based user interface. The previous versions were WSS 2003, WSS 2008, and Windows Unified Data Storage Server (WUDSS) which was based on Windows Server 2003.

The WSS operating system has evolved over time to become a differentiated operating environment for NAS environments. System vendors are able to create a variety of packaging and configuration options with Microsoft WSS based systems, in part by leveraging Microsoft Windows Server’s extensive storage support capabilities. Integrated “appliances” which are comprised of the NAS controller and using internal storage are often provided by system vendors for low-end configurations.

Microsoft Windows Storage NAS Operating System Product Analysis includes:

  • Highlights
  • Overview
  • Product Architecture
  • Software Architecture
  • RAS
  • Software Features, including data protection and deduplication
  • Performance
  • Evaluator Group Commentary
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