Sergiy Serdyuk - Fotolia
Windows Server 2016 features significant new storage capabilities. The most noteworthy new storage feature is Storage Spaces Direct.
Windows Storage Spaces, introduced with Windows Server 2012, allows a server's storage to be carved up into various high-availability structures. These structures are similar to RAID arrays, but Microsoft does not refer to them as such. Storage Spaces Direct builds on the capabilities that already exist as a part of Windows Storage Spaces.
Storage Spaces Direct allows companies to use Windows Storage Spaces to create highly available storage from local storage resources. This concept is similar to the high-availability mechanisms that have previously been used in Exchange Server.
How the new Storage Spaces Direct works
An example of the Storage Spaces Direct functionality is in Exchange Server. The database availability group is the primary mechanism for protecting mailbox databases in Exchange Server 2013 and 2016. Database availability groups are based on failover clustering, but the cluster is configured by Exchange Server itself. The administrator creates the database availability group, but Exchange handles the actual cluster-level configuration. Part of the reason for this is that Exchange supports functionality that does not ordinarily exist in Windows failover clusters.
Normally, a Windows failover cluster relies on one or more Cluster Shared Volumes (CSV). A CSV is a shared storage repository that is accessed by each cluster node. Using CSVs ensures that every node in the cluster has access to the same files and folders. What makes Exchange Server so different is that each cluster node has its own storage, rather than the cluster being based around shared storage. One of the cluster nodes, DAG members in Exchange, hosts the active copy of the mailbox database, while other nodes host database replicas called passive copies. If the active database copy fails, then a passive copy can be activated.
Microsoft is bringing similar functionality to Windows Server through Storage Spaces Direct. Storage Spaces Direct permits Windows failover clusters to use local storage rather than a CSV. Each failover cluster node contains its own copy of the data, which is replicated to the other cluster nodes. In addition, Microsoft has announced that Storage Spaces Direct is also going to support the use of JBOD storage.
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