Life after Drive Extender

As I’m sure everyone is now well aware, Microsoft has removed Drive Extender from both Windows Home Server 2011 and Windows Small Business Server Essentials 2011. This now leaves it up to third parties and OEMs to fill the void that has been left in the marketplace.

So far, there are some companies that are stepping up and creating what look to be some very promising solutions. Let’s look at each of them.

  • StableBit DrivePool – StableBit DrivePool is an add-in that will bring some element of drive pooling and folder duplication to the WHS/SBSe 2011 platform. According to the developer’s website, DrivePool will let you take multiple hard drives and combine them into one storage pool. You can create shared folders on this pool and choose whether or not to duplicate folders. Sounds a lot like Drive Extender. There are a couple caveats to DrivePool, however. The first is that DrivePool is an add-in and requires that WHS/SBSe be installed. The second is that data is only duplicated once (stored on two hard drives), not much unlike how Drive Extender is implemented in WHSv1. As of right now, the add-in is in the alpha stages, a technical preview is expected in a few weeks, and no release date is known at this time. Look for more on DrivePool as it becomes available.
  • DriveBenderDriveBender is a new storage pooling product that is looking to WHS/SBSe as well as all versions of Windows. DriveBender is slated to have native 64-bit support, use a file system that can be read in other PCs, support data duplication, be self-balancing, and add new storage quickly and easily. DriveBender is slated to release a beta on the 21st of this month, so look forward to more on DriveBender in the next few days and weeks.
  • DataCoreDataCore is a storage virtualization company with years of experience in the enterprise storage space and is looking at providing a solution for WHS/SBSe customers. Not much in terms of specifics are known at this time about what DataCore will be offering, but they are looking to bring some of their provisioning and mirroring features to WHS/SBSe. WeGotServed did an interview with a VP from DataCore that provides some insight as to the direction DataCore is headed. I look forward to seeing what they bring to the table in the next weeks, months, and years.

These are just three possible solutions and don’t take into account what OEMs are planning or DIY solutions like Intel’s Rapid Storage Technology or using a hardware RAID setup.

It’s going to be interesting to see how the storage landscape for Windows Home Server evolves over time. I, for one, am glad to see third parties stepping up to fill the void that Microsoft left.

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