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Storage Spaces & Windows Server 2012

Storage Spaces & Windows Server 2012

By | August 2, 2013

As the demand for secure storage has grown, innovative technologies from Microsoft have arisen to meet that demand. One of the most talked about solutions to storage needs is Microsoft’s highly reliable Windows 8 and Windows Server 2012 compatible Storage Spaces. This blog post will provide background on Storage Spaces and highlight its three main benefits – storage resiliency, thin provisioning, and fail-over clustering.

Storage Spaces Background

Several years ago Microsoft discontinued Drive Extender, a product that allowed users to create a single huge storage space by sharing their hard drives. Drive Extender had a short lifespan, but Storage Spaces is expected to replace much of Drive Extender’s functionality while addressing its shortcomings. Storage Spaces has the features to grapple with the need for large, resilient, and easily accessed storage. It is essentially a collection of physical storage drives merged together to provide one large data storage space. Disks of various sizes and interfaces are combined, forming a virtual disk that provides key storage features such as thin provisioning, storage resiliency, and support for failover clustering.

Storage Resiliency

Storage Spaces ResiliencyStorage Resiliency in Storage Spaces allows the user to save a copy of their data on another part of the storage pool, allowing retrieval of the data if the primary disk fails. It consumes extra space but provides the data integrity and security that each of your clients expect you to deliver. There are three different ways to use and implement Storage Resiliency in Windows Server 2012: Two-Way Mirroring, Three-Way Mirroring, and Parity Mode.

  1. Two-May Mirroring is the simplest way for you offer the benefits of Storage Resiliency to your clients. Implementing Two-Way Mirroring requires two physical disks with a copy of a file on each of the drives. If your client is exceptionally sensitive to price and you need to deliver the benefits of Storage Resiliency, Two-Way Mirroring is a great option.
  2. Three-Way Mirroring is more secure than Two-Way Mirroring. Three-Way Mirroring requires at least five physical disks with data replicated on three of the disks. It ensures that you have multiple copies of your files at all times. This is obviously a more expensive alternative to Two-Way Mirroring, but it also provides an added layer of redundancy.
  3. Parity Mode works with large files that are seldom changed can be stored. The Parity Mode option also saves data on three physical drives, but, because a single disk block is used to save Parity information, it uses much less space. Three-Way Mirroring is more secure because it provide multiple layers of data redundancy, while Parity Mode’s resiliency is restricted to a single disk.

Thin Provisioning

Storage Spaces Thin ProvisioningThin Provisioning is a great way for you to offer the benefits of high volume virtual storage spaces to your clients while only paying for the actual storage spaced used. In other words, Thin Provisioning will enable you to reduce the unused storage spaces that you’re provisioning. Sound too good to be true? Keep reading…

Thin Provisioning allows you to create a large virtual storage space using less storage than actually exists on the physical drive. For instance, 5TB of actual disk space can be allotted in 1TB chunks to each of 10 users, creating 10TB of virtual space out of the 5TB. This is possible because Thin Provisioning allocates 1TB to each user, but provides storage only when it’s required. Since users don’t all consume their allocated space at once, it will take time for the 5TB to be completely used. Rather than allocating 10TB in advance, server administrators can add physical drives when the threshold is reached. Thin Provisioning provides several advantages, including:

  • Cost saving is one of the major benefits, as it enables allocating storage only as required, making possible an on-demand approach to physical storage provisioning.
  • Storage space is efficiently managed, with users only provided with physical storage when they actually need it.

Storage Spaces also boasts a data-trimming feature that automatically optimizes the storage space and reduces the actual physical storage requirements of data. It provides alarms and notifications regarding utilization threshold levels that are set at 70% by default. Administrators can be notified well ahead of time to increase the physical storage disks before space runs out.

Support for Failover Clustering

Another prominent feature of Storage Spaces is its support for Failover Clustering. Failover Clustering is a native feature within Windows Server 2012 that automatically shifts the workloads to another server if the original server managing the primary workload fails. This is a great feature within Server 2012 that enables you to offer the highest level of uptime and availability to your clients.

Storage Spaces works in line with Failover Clustering to provide storage data sets to users and applications – even if the primary server is unavailable, fails, or is moved, ensuring that users have continuous access to their data and workloads.

Most cloud service providers can attest to the fact that the technological deployment and storage of the ever-growing accumulation of client data is an extremely expensive and complex task. Storage Spaces easily addresses these issues, providing improved security, flexibility, cost savings, accessibility, and efficiency. Storage Spaces provides a perfect alternative for service providers who are in need of best-standard advanced storage capabilities at an affordable price. It makes storage more economical, as well as provides scalability, resilience, availability, and ease of access for your clients that rely on cloud computing to meet their critical business needs.

Learn More Storage Spaces & Windows Server 2012

Awesome Cloud Services provides each of our partners the opportunity to upgrade to Windows Server 2012 and pass along the benefits of Storage Spaces to each of your clients. Upgrading and moving to Windows Server 2012 facilitates the efficient management of storage environments while keeping storage utilization within budget. Contact us to upgrade to your server OS from Windows Server 2003 or 2008 to Windows Server 2012 with Storage Spaces at no additional cost.

About Jess Coburn

Prior to founding Awesome Cloud Services, Jess was an Electrical Engineer with Motorola. He was a member of a research team that developed next generation digital communications systems. In his spare time, you’ll likely find him at the grill or in front of his smoker getting ready for some lip-smacking ribs to enjoy with his wife and two kids.