Top Features Of Server 2012: Storage Innovation

Last week we talked about PowerShell.

Among the most captivating features of Microsoft’s Server 2012 has to be the way that it looks at and thinks about storage for the companies that are using this product. Within the category of storage there are three features that stand out above all the rest: Server Message Block (SMB) 3.0, Storage Spaces, and some key improvements to the way error checking is handled on NTFS disks within the operating system (OS).

Improvements in error checking is a game changer in how the OS handles and executes error correction on hard drives. In the old days, if you had to check a disk for errors it meant that your operating system would take the better part of a few hours to scan the sectors and look for and fix any errors that were present. If this was a main drive, you would have to restart the machine and let it run CHKDSK. This leads to unnecessary downtime on servers.

Now, you only have to take down a hard disk in the most extreme of corruption circumstances. For a full write up on the new NTFS error checking model please see the post by Steven Sinofsky.

SMB allows you to handle and deal with files and applications in a very efficient manner. The holdups in the past were related to how to handle servers that need maintenance or have issues. One of the new features within SMB 3.0 is Transparent Failover in which you can now take a machine offline and perform necessary maintenance and repairs without worry as to what is going to happen to the data.

SMB scale-out allows you to create and manage file shares that are designed to reduce network traffic and free up bandwidth to be used for other things. SMB Direct will allow you to use Remote Direct Memory Access (RDMA) which, when used and configured correctly, can be used as remote storage for Hyper-V servers and Microsoft SQL-Server. Lastly, there are vast improvements in Performance Counters that allow you to see at amore granular level what may be impacting your SMB servers and shares.

Storage Spaces is the other feature that has the potential to be a big jump in the evolutionary history of Microsoft products. Storage Spaces allows you to do something that, before now, was only available in third-party software. It allows you to pull together separate pools of hard drives to be utilized in various ways. In essence, this is virtualizing the disk to become a pool of storage for whatever you need to accomplish for your environment.

SATA and SAS disks can be used for this feature. You can also use USB attached storage, however USB 2.0 will not be the best performing option compared to the SATA and SAS options. You can set the disks in Storage Spaces as a thin-provisioned disk. That means that you can set the pool of data at whatever size you think you will need and you can add those needed disks as needed.

You can also do Mirroring and parity with Storage Spaces, which will give a resilience to your data. You can also integrate Storage Spaces with Failover Clustering. Storage Spaces is a new feature that has vast potential and can also create many opportunities for end users in the future. Especially since the need for more and more data is a reality for end users as well as the administrators that support them.

Check back next week for our next installment on the top features of Server 2012 on remote desktop services!

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