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Is Microsoft Ready To Be A Storage Player?

Would you expect Microsoft to offer enterprise-class storage? It sounds a bit silly given that a) Microsoft isn’t a storage vendor and b) the storage industry behemoths offer plenty of innovative products. But the fact is Windows Server 2012 includes quite a repertoire of storage features, from deduplication to thin provisioning, including the product I’m focusing on here: Storage Spaces.

I don’t often focus on a particular vendor in this column, but Storage Spaces is worth covering for two reasons: because Microsoft is an integrated part of the “IT furniture,” and because of the view this product gives to a new storage approach.

Formally introduced last September, Windows Server 2012 includes appealing new features for cloud environments, such as improvements to Hyper-V virtualization. A significant chunk of the improvements are storage-focused, letting customers add advanced SAN features to commodity hardware and/or existing storage investments, but with significantly less complexity and cost. Customers gain access to features such as thin provisioning, multi-pathing, deduplication, continuous availability and live migration, which in the past demanded large budgets and storage expertise.

At a high level, Storage Spaces lets organizations buy commodity disk drives (e.g., an array of hard drives often called JBOD, or “just a bunch of disks”), connect them to a Windows server and quickly deploy inexpensive storage with high-level features. Without buying fancy SAN components, customers can get enterprise-class security, performance, scalability and dynamic provisioning. Companies can deploy Storage Spaces on application servers, file servers and Hyper-V virtual machines. The product virtualizes disk resources — SAS, SATA, JBOD — into a single pool or multiple pools, with easy capacity expansion.

Network Computing

Categories: General.

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