Microsoft has forged a deal with a University of Michigan research unit to create an open-source version of the NFS (Network File System) version 4 protocol that will work with Windows.
Microsoft already offers NFS support in Windows client and server, but for Version 3 only.
"NFS v3 is the only version anyone reallly is shipping commercially," said Gene Chellis, Group Program Manager for File Server with Microsoft's Storage Solutions Division. "We don't have announced plans on (NFS) v4. It's on our list of things to look at."
For customers in the high-performance-computing space, however, being able to access the data that lives on Unix and Linux NFS servers is critical, Chellis acknowleded. In the same way that Microsoft is emphasizing interoperability between directories and authentication platforms, so too, is it planning to provide it in the file/data-access space, Chellis said.
"If you have data on NFS servers, you won't have to limit the kind of server you can use," he said. The NFS 4 interop means Windows servers won't be excluded from consideration, he added.
(Chellis cautioned that Microsoft's move here should not be interpreted as Microsoft dropping SMB file-sharing in favor of NFS. That is not the case, he said.)
The University of Michigan's Center for Information Technology Integration (CITI) research unit is the same group building an NFS v4 client for Linux. Version 4 of NFS adds several new capabilities, including support for file locking and the mount protocol, strong security, compound operations, client caching and internationalization, according to the CITI Web site.
Microsoft is providing the funding for the NFS v 4 Windows port. CITI "owns the schedule, development and release," Chellis said. "Our customers can get it from them when it's done," he said.
That said, Microsoft is not providing a public timetable for the NFS v4 Windows port. The Redmondians also are not committing to a specific version of Windows client and/or server into which NFS v4 support will be built-in. (The next logical ones would be Windows 8/Windows 8 Server, I'd think, as Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 include NFS v3 support.)