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What is Microsoft's storage replication feature?

The replication feature in the newest version of Windows Server will move to the storage level, eliminating the existing scalability problems with Hyper-V replication.

Storage replication is a new feature that is being introduced in the still unnamed upcoming version of Windows Server. This new feature will make it possible to replicate physical storage from one server to another. By doing so, it will become possible to mirror entire servers.

Storage replication is designed to work with a number of different Microsoft technologies including failover clustering, Hyper-V and scale-out file servers.

When it comes to Microsoft Hyper-V, storage replication might initially seem to be an unnecessary feature. After all, Hyper-V already has a replication feature. However, the new storage replication feature will address a major shortcoming in the existing Hyper-V replication functionality.

As it stands right now, Hyper-V replication has to be enabled on a per-virtual machine (VM) or per-virtual hard disk basis. This prevents Hyper-V replication from scaling well because it's impractical to manually enable replication for large numbers of VMs. The upcoming Windows Server storage replication feature will eliminate this problem by moving replication functionality to the storage level so that entire storage volumes can be replicated without regard for the individual VMs. Of course this is just one example of how storage replication can be used. Microsoft envisions a number of different uses, many of which have nothing to do with Hyper-V.

Another nice thing about storage replication is that it is hardware agnostic. The storage replication feature is software-based and does not have any reliance on proprietary storage hardware. The replication is based on the SMB 3.0 protocol and can be performed synchronously without risk of data loss for metropolitan distances -- from one side of a city to another. The storage replication feature is also specifically designed to work with commodity storage hardware and commodity networking hardware. Microsoft has also hinted that storage replication will be configurable through Windows PowerShell, which will allow for large-scale scripting of replication operations.

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