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In an effort to improve data protection and consolidation across organizations’ multiple branch sites, Microsoft Corp. joined EMC Corp. and its Legato software division on Thursday to unveil an integrated offering backed by a series of new educational seminars.

The new business continuity solution being launched features Hopkinton, Mass.-based EMC’s NetWin 200 using the company’s CLARiiON CX network-attached storage (NAS) system on the front end running Microsoft Windows Storage Server 2003 software—built on Microsoft Windows Server System, as well as Legato’s RepliStor software.

Kicking off in Boston, the 10-city seminar roadshow is designed to show how organizations can incur better information management and reduce risk of downtime and outages by consolidating their remote facilities’ disparate storage systems onto EMC’s and Microsoft’s newly married storage wares, according to Christopher Whyte, product manager of the Enterprise Storage Division for Redmond, Wash.-based Microsoft. With that framework securely in place, data can rely on automatic failover and routine backups to a centralized data center location through Legato’s replication software.

According to analysts, a serious issue plaguing enterprise organizations with a series of branch offices is a dearth of expertise at remote facilities to handle day-to-day protection and data recovery issues. Since customers prefer to manage software in a Microsoft environment and Windows is the “predominant” solution in branch offices, the EMC and Microsoft business continuity offering allows companies to tie together and upgrade to a platform they are familiar with, noted Nancy Marrone-Hurley, senior analyst with Milford, Mass.-based Enterprise Storage Group.

“The bottom line is the branch office issue is significant,” said Marrone-Hurley. “Customers don’t want to have to buy piecemeal, they want a bundled solution. [Customers] have NetWin [200] on the front end and a Microsoft-oriented solution that Microsoft customers would be able to use their same Active Directory and file systems, and on the back end have EMC hardware.”

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