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. 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.
Windows Storage Server (WSS) 2012 R2 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 often provided by system vendors for low-end configurations.
Another configuration option includes systems with an integrated HBA based RAID hardware controller attached to external storage. These systems typically provide a moderate amount of capacity and configuration flexibility, which are commonly offered by OEM providers.