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Data Storage Microsoft Windows Hardware

Looking Back At Microsoft's Rocky History In Storage Tech 241

Posted by timothy
from the would-you-like-to-buy-some-stones? dept.
nk497 writes "Following the demise of Windows Home Server's Drive Extender, Jon Honeyball looks back on Microsoft's long, long list of storage disasters, from the dodgy DriveSpace to the Cairo Object File System, and on to the debacle that was WinFS."
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Looking Back At Microsoft's Rocky History In Storage Tech

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  • Drive Letters (Score:5, Insightful)

    by pushing-robot (1037830) on Saturday February 12, 2011 @02:36AM (#35184224)

    IMHO, Microsoft worst offense in storage is drive letters, which provide no information about either the type and structure of the underlying disks or the data they contain, and have caused untold headaches from applications (and the OS itself) being reliant on paths that are arbitrarily assigned, subject to change, and often out of the user's control.

    Admittedly, Microsoft didn't invent the system, but the fact that drive letters still exist in 2011 is entirely their fault.

  • by DurendalMac (736637) on Saturday February 12, 2011 @03:26AM (#35184406)

    What good is any sort of enterprise policy on an OS thats trivial to hack?

    It isn't if the sysadmin and netadmin know what the hell they're doing.

    Not to mention that all that group policy bullshit is proprietary, they don't even use open authentication methods, NTLM is just WAITING to be hacked.

    Because MS has never implemented Kerberos, right? And most companies don't give a shit if MS has proprietary bullshit if it has all the features they need, like the aforementioned group policy, Exchange, Active Directory, etc.

    There's a reason Google has banned the use of the toy OS for development machines, they don't want their information being stolen by hackers.

    Because external threats are the only kind that exist! Oh, wait, there's also employee ineptitude, like plugging in a petri dish of a flash drive and opening up more gaping backdoors than you'll find at a massive gay orgy. Guess what? That's far less of a concern on a server as your sysadmin likely isn't going to be that stupid.

    There are also other, easier ways to do what group policy does. I never found it to be even remotely useful, or even remotely make up for all the extra time necessary to manage Windows machines over their Linux and Mac counterparts.

    Let me guess: The servers you've worked with never served more than 30 people, tops. Come back when you've actually worked in an enterprise setting. I'm not a huge fan of Windows Server (it can be a bitch to administer), but quite frankly, it does a lot of things far better as a workgroup server than Linux or OS X unless you can afford some in-house developers.

  • Re:Missing ADS (Score:4, Insightful)

    by TheRaven64 (641858) on Saturday February 12, 2011 @05:45AM (#35184868) Journal
    ADS was introduced for one reason: to allow NT servers to support Apple clients, without the server needing to do some crazy transforms (like MacOS does when writing to a FAT drive, which make it trivial to break the files if you touch them with a non-Mac system). The problem was that most of the rest of the system was not updated - it was an operating system feature written for a single application, which is a pretty good way of introducing security holes.
  • by batkiwi (137781) on Saturday February 12, 2011 @05:47AM (#35184872)

    Please name a linux based solution, apart from 100% proprietary Unraid, which allow for me to do what drive extender does. I'm serious. I refuse to install WHS, and thus far the closest I can find is going Unraid, which feels dirty to me, or nexentastor.

    What drive extender does, in a nutshell:
    -all of your hard drives show up as one big storage pool.
    -100% of disparate drive sizes can be used (excluding copies/parity obviously). So if you have 3 old 1tb drives, 2 old 1.5tb drives, and 1 2tb drive you'll have 8gb of storage
    -configurable redundancy such that any single disk failure, no matter the size, all files are still available
    -if two drives fail, you only lose the files that were on those two drives, not the entire array
    -take any one drive out of the array, plug it into ANY windows vista or higher PC (new NTFS version), have access to all the files that were stored in that drive.
    -add a drive, get that much more storage (excluding copies/parity obviously)

    ZFS comes DAMNED close, but you cannot grow the number of disks in a raidz array, you have to add an entire extra array (meaning 3+ disks) to the pool. You also lose the entire array if 2 (or 3 with raidz2, or 4 with raidz3) disks die, and cannot have direct file access just by plugging in 1 disk of the array, but that honestly doesn't bother me that much.

    Oh, and ZFS isn't on linux except through fuse.

  • by clang_jangle (975789) on Saturday February 12, 2011 @05:51AM (#35184892) Journal
    There is no advantage to "control of the Windows System Registry" except for windows users, so your logic appears a bit circular. You do know that there are Linux LDAP servers, right? Because so often discussing technology with microsofties is like trying to talk about good food with McD's addicts. They often have no frame of reference with which to discuss these things.
  • by v1 (525388) on Saturday February 12, 2011 @09:43AM (#35186064) Homepage Journal

    The article does a fairly thorough job of roasting MS over their lack of internal coordination, outlining how one wing starts to work on a new technology and other departments that need to get on board "wanted nothing to do with it'. In any well-managed company, a department that refuses to get on board with a new technology gets hell rained down on them from above until they fall into line.

    Take Apple's "spotlight" meta search feature for example. Imagine the team working on the AddressBook app "wanted nothing to do with it"? There'd be hell to pay, and either team managers would change their tune or get replaced. In a large project like an operating system, lack of cooperation simply cannot be tolerated. But it seems that MS is just so large at this point that it doesn't have the power to guarantee their different projects cooperate fully with each other.

    I have read from time to time that there was this sort of internal battle going on at MS, where different projects worked in isolation and there was infighting, but I'd never really seen the effects of these issues before. It's interesting to see the result. This appears to be an upper management or communications problem. Whoever is above the Outlook team needs to be asking that team manager "so how's integration with drive extender going?" If they get foot-dragging and complaining and brush-offs, that manager needs to be dragged into the director's office for some "re-education" on cohesive development. If the director isn't asking these questions, THEY need to be replaced. Something of this sort is isn't working properly at MS.

    Its like a construction project. You've got all these separate units coming in, doing electrical, plumbing, structural, heating, floors. The general contractor has to make sure these people work together. Refusing to cooperate with one of the other groups simply cannot be tolerated, and it's the GC's responsibility to make sure everything works smoothly. Problems between groups need to be brought to the GC, and the GC needs to settle them immediately. Otherwise the finished building has serious problems. You can't just turn over the house to the owner and say "Oh by the way we removed the heating from the bathroom. The plumbers wouldn't route the pipes around where the heating ducts needed to go. You don't REALLY need heat in such a small room anyway." But that's the sort of thing that MS is pulling from time to time.

    I think MS is just taking the cowardly way out. "We can't control our own internal development processes well enough to get this feature integrated properly in with the rest of our technology, so we're just canceling it." The article states simply that companies like Dropbox and DataRobotics (makers of Drobo) that have only one core technology are forced to "get it right", because dropping it simply isn't an option. MS seems to think they have the option to just drop any feature at any time on a whim if it's not going well, instead of going to the additional effort of kicking some butts and making it work. It's not like its an impossible task. This is doable. They just lack the necessary internal management to pull it off consistently.

    Bottom line: At MS, with any new project, unless all the key players decide to get on board, the project is doomed.

    In other words, the Outlook team manager should not be capable of tanking Drive Extender. But it is, and it did. And THAT is a serious internal management problem that MS has demonstrated over and over. Something's gotta change.

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