It is only several days since Microsoft made the final bits of System Center 2012 SP1 available, although for a relatively limited audience.
One of my fellow MVP’s in the Cloud and Datacenter Management department, Graham Davies, raised my interest by claiming there was something in VMM 2012 SP1 that had gone unnoticed: a brand-new SMI-S storage provider for the onboard iSCSI Target Server role in Windows Server 2012!
Back in March 2011, I wrote several blogs about the new Fabric concept in Virtual Machine Manager 2012 which was still in its early beta. Fast forwarding about two years, a lot has happened in the storage space and most storage vendors have introduced SMI-S support for their most important storage products. In Windows® Server 2012 environments, built-in, fine-grained virtualization, system-wide striping, and support for multi-tenancy give you the ability to consolidate mixed workloads onto a single HP 3PAR StoreServ 7000 system. Not only does the new 3PAR StoreServ 7000 support Offloaded Data Transfer (ODX) but also Storage Management Initiative Specification (SMI-S) and a new Web Services API.
Lower end and non-comparable storage systems such as Dell’s EqualLogic only promise 2x improvement on file copy with ODX.
HP’s P4500 requires SANiQ v10.0 which is finally available and at a minimum will support Windows Server 2012. If you are a NetApp Customer or if you are an Advantage Partner (or if you have good friends among them) you can get access to the NetApp Data ONTAP Simulator. Getting the simulator was one thing, installing a Linux VM with Hyper-V Integration Components was another. Because I don’t expect everyone to be able to read German, I will translate the instructions here and blog about my findings.
By the way, I have a third challenge … I don’t know anything about NetApp either, so this blog really describes my first steps into the Linux and NetApp world.
I will not go through steps 1 and 2 because if you exactly follow Yusuf’s steps, you will end up with a Hyper-V aware CentOS guest.
Very much focusing on the standards that are available, Microsoft decided to employ the SMI-S Provider for this purpose, with VDS as a temporary option for backwards compatibility.
Windows Server 2012 R2 has some nice new features and improvements on existing features for users of Storage Spaces so there is a definite appeal for users of Windows Server 2012 to want to upgrade to Windows Server 2012 R2.  If you opt to do an in-place upgrade to preserve your existing Storage Spaces so that you can get your service up and running with the hope of being able to use them straight off the bat in Windows Server 2012 R2, you may encounter an error Read-only by user action and you need to perform some corrective steps to use them again.
This is what your Storage Spaces may look like if you open the Storage Spaces control panel item after the upgrade. If you forget to elevate the PowerShell prompt by running it as an administrator you will get access denied responses to the two Cmdlets as you aren’t running the Cmdlets with your administrative rights. Once you’ve entered the Cmdlets above, returning to the Storage Spaces control panel applet now, you will see the information shown has updated. As you can see, the Storage Spaces are now reporting their status as OK but they are marked as Offline by Policy.

It’s important to note here that the drive letter assigned will be the next free letter and not perhaps, the drive letter that you used on the previous installation of Windows Server 2012. It’s also good to remember that any file shares you had on these Storage Spaces may be un-shared through the upgrade process so you should check the existence of your shares either by using the Properties on the drive or folder which you needed to be shared or by using the Share and Storage Management administrative console. Once you’ve got your Storage Spaces all brought online after the actions above, you should be looking like normality again as shown below. Hopefully someone out there finds this useful and it saves at least a few hair extractions from taking place after a Windows Server 2012 to Windows Server 2012 R2 in-place upgrade. Richard J Green has over ten years of industry experience and currently specialises in Microsoft enterprise products and solutions including System Center, Microsoft Azure and Office 365.
All views expressed on this site are my own and do not represent my employers, past or present. Figure 2 shows the Physical and Logical view of how Storage Spaces works and how we will set it up in the beginning of the video. Figure 9 shows the Physical and Logical view of how Storage Spaces works and how it will be set up after I add a fourth Seagate ST3000DM001 to the Pool.
While adding a physical drive to the Pool does increase the available Pool size supporting the virtual disks in Storage Spaces it did not seem to do anything to improve the performance of any of the three virtual dives being tested. Please join us in the HSS Forums or in the thread related to this blog posting with comments or questions.
Support this podcast by shopping via affiliate links If you shop the app store consider starting here first! In the Video, Creating A Storage Space Pool in Windows Server 2012 R2 Essentials Preview, I show how to create a pool with three relatively small hard drive. Figure 2 shows the Physical and Logical view of how Storage Spaces works and how it was demonstrated in the video. After the Storage Spaces Pool is set up and the Virtual HDDs are created I measured the performance of each Virtual HDD. One blog focused on deep storage integration using a SNIA standard called Storage Management Initiative Specification (SMI-S). The 7x promise with 3PAR’s ODX capability sounds good but of course we have to verify this in practice.
The reason why I wanted to try this out is to have an SMI-S compliant storage device which I could use in my System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2012 lab. In this blog I focus on the very deep Storage integration which can be accessed from the Fabric wunderbar. The primary reason for this is of course there is not much point in building a Hyper-V Private Cloud without some sort of Fibre Channel, iSCSI or Shared SAS based type of shared storage.

Apart from managing software I had not had the pleasure to work with SMI-S before and I guess it is new for most of my readers. As you can see, the spaces are in-tact and will report all of the space names and capacity from prior to the upgrade but instead of being online as you are used to seeing, you instead have this information icon and a message alongside the pool capacity indicator Read-only by user action. Simply close PowerShell and re-open it by right-clicking and using the Run as Administrator option. To change this and to bring the Storage Spaces online, simply click the Bring Online option next to each Storage Space and it will be brought online and granted a drive letter. If you have a requirement for the Storage Space to be on a particular letter then you will need to go into the Properties of the individual spaces after it has been brought online and change the letter.
Richard is currently working as a Consultant for Fordway Solutions.All views expressed on this site are my own and do not represent my employers, past or present. Before I created the Storage Spaces Pool I had measured the performance of each of the 3 HDDs that would make up the Pool to have a reference to compare to the Virtual HDDs performance. When I was contributing my Fabric chapters for the Microsoft Private Cloud Computing book, there was only a limited number of usually very expensive storage arrays to really dig into this subject. Of course I looked at what 3PAR has to offer in terms of features in Windows Server 2012 and integration with Hyper-V and System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2012. In a Dell Techcenter blog on Windows Server 2012 and EqualLogic an increase in copy time of 5x is mentioned. As you may know Microsoft decided to use the SMI-S provider (SNIA Standard) to enable deep integration of storage arrays for Virtual Machine Manager 2012.
This is a built in protection feature of Windows Server 2012 R2 which takes your Storage Spaces offline by default after an upgrade.
I had access to some HP and NetApp storage to test SMI-S integration which was still very limited at the time. In our Microsoft Private Cloud Computing book, a good part of the storage fabric chapter is devoted to SMI-S integration in System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2012.
As I stated for the 3PAR number, it is always best to verify these numbers in your own practice.
When we saw how the iSCSI Target Server, which was previously a separate install on Windows Server 2008 R2, developed and became included as a role in Windows Server 2012, we begged the product managers responsible for storage in System Center 2012 to also provide SMI-S support. This is very similar to how in Windows Server 2003, a disk connected from an external system from a software RAID set could be marked as Foreign and the configuration of the disk needs to be imported first.

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