Posted by Darryl Welch
Principal Program Manager, Windows Server Interoperability Engineering Team

Last week, 40 representatives from 17 companies and organizations joined us at Microsoft’s Platform Adoption Center to participate in the Windows File Sharing Protocols “Plugfest”.  These plugfests provide software developers with the opportunity to learn more about Microsoft protocols and to improve and enhance their implementations of the Microsoft Open Specifications. This particular event focused on implementations of SMB, SMB2, and the new SMB 3.0 capabilities, which along with their predecessor CIFS, are the most widely-used file-access protocols in the world.

A critical aspect of Windows 8 and Windows Server 2012 development is the ecosystem dedicated to shipping SMB 3.0 capable systems. We have been working closely with these vendors and open source collaborators by proactively providing extensive protocol documentation and participating in plugfest-type events to provide opportunities for testing and feedback. The SMB ecosystem now reaches all the way to key server applications such as Microsoft SQL Server and Windows Server Hyper-V to ensure that SMB 3.0 capabilities are fully leveraged all the way through the stack, and across the multivendor network.  The Plugfest last week continued to move these efforts forward.

During our conversations last week, Chris Hertel reflected on his more than fifteen years of work to implement CIFS, SMB, and related protocols to improve interoperability.  He remarked on how far Microsoft has come in its efforts to work with open source developers and providers.  Hertel, writing for the Samba Team in a Samba blog post said, "Microsoft is now at the forefront of efforts to build a stronger community and improve interoperability in the SMB world."

Peter Murray, representing SwiftTest, has been attending the Microsoft plugfest events for the past three years. “Our biggest customers want the most complete protocol implementation as early as possible,” he said. Being able to obtain protocol specifications and test Microsoft code prior to its final release “cuts down on our development time, which makes it enormously easier for us when we know what’s coming up.” SwiftTest’s high performance test solutions are used by leading manufacturers, enterprises, and service providers to simulate storage traffic and validate the capabilities of data storage systems, network devices and large file systems.

Gordon Ross from Nexenta called the protocol documentation and sharing mechanism “a well-oiled machine,” adding “I understand Microsoft can’t just give away the crown jewels. The new tools for tracing what’s going on in Windows clients are the next best thing.” As for the plugfest presentations, he said: “Hearing what you’re doing and why you’re doing it helps us prepare to meet the changing needs of our customers.” Nexenta builds open architecture enterprise-class storage systems.

We would like to thank all of the participants in this year’s Plugfest. It was a productive week testing, sharing information, identifying bugs, and renewing relationships. We’re very fortunate to have this ecosystem of collaborators actively engaged in ongoing efforts to enhance file server protocol interoperability with Windows and other implementations. This is a win/win for us and for all of our customers.