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01.01.2015 admin
The core file system capabilities in Windows Server have not changed radically since the earliest version of Windows NT. Q: Can I create a software RAID volume in a Storage Space with Windows Server 2012 on a USB-connected drive? Q: What are the feature differences between Storage Spaces on Windows Server 2012 and Windows 8 client? This fully-updated master class gives you 12 hours of detailed instruction on all aspects of a Hyper-V based virtualization environment.
You'll explore current capabilities in Windows Server 2012 R2 and look to the future with Windows Server 2016. First you can use Windows Server together with Storage Spaces, which will offer you a really great enterprise and scalable storage solution for low cost.
Second you can use Windows Server to mask your existing Storage, by building a layer between the Hyper-V hosts and your storage.
At the moment there are not a lot of vendors out there which offer SMB 3.0 in there storage solution. Basically what the Scale-Out File Server let you do it so cluster up to 10 file servers which all will share CSVs (Cluster Shared Volumes) like you know from Hyper-V hosts and present SMB shares which are created on the CSV volumes. As already mentioned you can use your already existing storage appliance as storage for your Scale-Out File Server CSVs or you could use Windows Server Storage Spaces which allow you to build great storage solution for a lot less money.
Microsoft first released there Software Defined Storage solution called Storage Spaces in Windows Server 2012 and this allows you basically to build your own storage solution based on a simple JBOD hardware solution.
Continuous availability – Storage Pools and Disks can be clustered with the Microsoft Failover Cluster so if one server goes down the virtual disks and file shares are still available. Flexible resiliency options – In Windows Server 2012 you could create a Mirror Spaces with a two-way or three-way mirror, a Parity Space with a single parity and a Simple Space with no data resiliency.
Storage Tiering – Windows Server 2012 R2 allows you to use different kind of disks and automatically moves “hot-data” from SAS disks to fast SSD storage. Data Deduplication – Data Deduplication was already included in Windows Server 2012 but it is enhanced in Windows Server 2012 R2, and allows you to use it together with Cluster Shared Volumes (CSV) and supports VDI virtual machines.
As mentioned both of this techologies do not require each other, but if you combine them you get a really great solution. To scale this even bigger you can go to way, you could setup a new Scale-Out File Server Cluster and create new file shares where virtual machines can be placed. With the 2012 R2 releases of Windows Server and System Center Microsoft made some great enhancements to Storage Spaces, Scale-Out File Server, SMB, Hyper-V and System Center. Management – Management of Hyper-V and Scale-Out File Servers as well as Storage Spaces right in System Center 2012 R2 Virtual Machine Manager. Deployment – Deploy new Scale-Out File Server Clusters with and without Storage Spaces directly from System Center 2012 R2 Virtual Machine Manager via Bare-Metal Deployment. Rebalancing of Scale-Out File Server clients – SMB client connections are tracked per file share (instead of per server), and clients are then redirected to the cluster node with the best access to the volume used by the file share. SMB bandwidth management – Enables you to configure SMB bandwidth limits to control different SMB traffic types.
Multiple SMB instances on a Scale-Out File Server – Provides an additional instance on each cluster node in Scale-Out File Servers specifically for CSV traffic.
I hope I could help with this blog post to understand a little bit more about the Scale-Out File Server and Storage Spaces, and how you can create a great storage solution for your cloud Environment. Btw the pictures and information are taken from people like Bryan Matthew (Microsoft), Jose Barreto (Microsoft) and Jeff Woolsey (Microsoft).
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In Windows Server 2012 R2 a Hyper-V host can be connected to multiple SOFS node at the same time. You can build your own storage based on Windows Server, which not only allows you to share storage via SMB 3,0 it also allows you to share storage via NFS or iSCSI. Or you could extend the existing cluster with more servers and more shared SAS disks chassis which don’t have to be connected to the existing servers.
This makes troubleshooting easier and reduces the need to capture network traces or enable more detailed diagnostic event logging. This allows you to take advantage of key SMB features, such as SMB Direct and SMB Multichannel, by providing high speed migration with low CPU utilization.

A default instance can handle incoming traffic from SMB clients that are accessing regular file shares, while another instance only handles inter-node CSV traffic.
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But in my opinion you can get a huge benefit by using Windows Server in different scenarios. Together with SMB Transparent Failover the Hyper-V host does not really get any storage downtime if on of the SOFS nodes fails. Which means that VM1 and VM2 running on the same Hyper-V hosts can be offered by two different SOFS nodes. The Virtual Disks, also called Storage Spaces, can have different resiliency levels like Simple, Mirror or Parity and you can also create multiple disks on one storage pool and even use thing provisioning. With SMB Multichannel you can use multiple NICs for example 10GbE, infiniband, or even faster network adapters.
This is possible because of  features like CSV Redirected mode hosts can access disks from other hosts even if they are not connected directly via SAS, instead the node is using the Ethernet connection between the hosts. Work as a Cloud Architect for itnetX, a consulting and engineering company located in Switzerland.
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File services have had incremental changes, as has the file-sharing Server Message Block (SMB) protocol, but nothing groundbreaking. With Windows Server 2012 one Hyper-V host connected to one of the SOFS nodes and used multiple paths to this node by using SMB Multichannel, the other Hyper-V host connected automatically to the second SOFS node so both nodes are active at the same time. I am focused on Microsoft Technologies, especially Microsoft Cloud Solutions based Microsoft System Center, Microsoft Virtualization and Microsoft Azure. File Server Resource Manager (FSRM) added capabilities around screening, quotas, reporting, and classification but didn't change the core capabilities of the file system and how file services are used. In case on of the SOFS nodes dies, the Hyper-V host fails over to the other SOFS node without any downtime for the Hyper-V Virtual Machines. True, this is not something totally different, this is something storage vendors do for a long time.
If this server needs to be highly available, it can be clustered, with one server at a time offering the file share. Volumes with fault tolerance can be created on dynamic disk by using Windows mirroring (RAID 1) or striping with parity (RAID 5) capabilities. However, IT administrators must manually perform both the selection of disks and any repair actions. Furthermore, more advanced features, such as thin provisioning of storage and the easy addition of more storage to a pool in which volumes can be created, just aren't possible without the use of a separate SAN or NAS. But this changes in the next version of Windows Server, Windows Server 2012 (formerly code-named Windows Server 8).
Other times, you just need to be able to store information that is protected in another way. You can open the Disk Management Microsoft Management Console (MMC) snap-in, examine the physical disks, convert them to dynamic disks if necessary, and then create a volume that meets your requirements.
If the volume needs to grow, you might be able to extend it (depending on the physical disks), but you can't add additional disks to an existing volume, to provide easy scalability. At the other end of the scale, power users on desktops also struggle to organize their data across internal drives and USB-connected disks. With Storage Spaces, the physical disks that provide underlying data storage are completely abstracted from the process of requesting new volumes, now known as spaces. The Storage Spaces technology automatically performs any necessary actions to restore data redundancy if a disk fails, provided that sufficient physical disks are available. Storage pools support USB, Serial ATA (SATA), and Serial Attached SCSI (SAS) connected disks in a Just a Bunch of Disks (JBOD) scenario. With no hardware-based high-availability support such as RAID happening behind the scenes, Storage Spaces takes care of fault tolerance.
The use of USB-connected drives is great on the desktop; servers focus on SATA- and SAS-connected drives.
You can connect a disk enclosure to several hosts in a cluster, and the Storage Space on those shared SAS drives will be available to all nodes in the cluster and can be used as part of Cluster Shared Volumes (CSV).
If you use an external disk enclosure, then Storage Spaces supports the SCSI Enclosure Services (SES) protocol, which enables failure indications on the external storage. For example, you could enable a bad disk alert if Storage Spaces detects a problem with a physical disk.

When a new storage pool is created, the disks that are added to the storage pool disappear from the Disk Management MMC; the disks are now virtualized and used exclusively by Storage Space technology. You can see the disk state in the storage pools view in File and Storage Services in Server Manager (on a Windows 8 server ) or by using the Storage Spaces Control Panel applet (on a Windows 8 client).
This article focuses on using Storage Spaces on the server with Server Manager and Windows PowerShell, but all the features that I write about here are also available on the client.
Select the target server from the Servers tab, and then select the Storage Pools tab, which shows information about existing storage pools and disks that can be used in a storage pool. The first is to create the disk as fixed, meaning that all the space for the size of the virtual disk is allocated during its creation. The second is to create the disk as thin, meaning that space is taken from the pool only as needed. Using a thin-provisioned disk, you can create a virtual disk that is much larger than your actual available storage. Now, this capability doesn't mean that you can store more data in the thinly provisioned disk than is actually allocated to the pool. As the data approaches 2TB, I can add another 1TB of storage by adding still more disks, and so on.
Alerts can be generated to notify me that a storage pool is reaching its threshold, giving me time to add the required storage. If you choose Thin as the provisioning type, you can select a larger size than the available physical free space.
You can see the actual amount of space that the virtual disk uses in a storage pool in Server Manager (or in the Storage Spaces Control Panel applet on a client).
This access is enabled by several changes, including SMB Multi-Channel, which now allows multiple TCP connections to be established over multiple NICs if available for a single SMB session. This change enables bandwidth aggregation because multiple NICs and CPUs can be used for network processing when Receive-Side Scaling (RSS) and multiple NICs are leveraged. Multiple hosts in the cluster can simultaneously share the CSV for key workloads such as Hyper-V virtual machines (VMs) stored on a file share or even Microsoft SQL Server databases. This Active-Active file sharing allows for zero downtime and no loss of handles in the event of a failover. After it’s installed, this service allows a Server 2012 server to act as an iSCSI target, enabling access to its storage from both a file level (using SMB) and a block level (using iSCSI).
Chkdsk is very good at its job but it's a long laborious job, which must go through all the disk content looking for problems, and then perform the repair, which -- due to the nature of disks and their speed -- can take a very long time (possibly days for large volumes with many files). The result is a period of days during which the volume is offline while the repair operation is performed.
NTFS itself has become more resilient, with self-healing capabilities, but chkdsk is still needed at times. Windows 8 has solved once and for all the concerns about running a chkdsk on even the largest volume.
As I already mentioned, the tool must go through the entire disk and all its content looking for problems, which takes time. As it finds the problems -- which will be on a minuscule number of actual files -- Chdsk fixes them. The problem is that chkdsk takes the volume offline, making the content unavailable as it performs the health checking and fixing. The reason is that CSV adds another level of indirection between the disk and how it's accessed. So, as far as users of the CSV volume are concerned, there was just a slight delay in access and no actual offline action or loss of file handles. After installing the Remote Server Administration Tools for Server 2012 on a Windows 8 client machine, start Server Manager, and create groups of servers, which you can then manage as an entire group. Dashboard views (such as the one in Figure A) make it easy to see any problems on any server in the group and to perform actions on multiple servers simultaneously. Typical management actions, such as adding or removing roles and features, are possible, as are configurations such as Storage Space actions.
But as the trend to optimize management continues, managing a single server makes less sense. As more servers run Server Core instead of a full installation, management will need to be performed remotely unless you want to use Windows PowerShell for all administration.

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