Expert Video: Brien Posey discusses Windows Storage Spaces in WS 2012

In the fourth of five video tips, Microsoft MVP Brien Posey discusses the Windows Storage Spaces feature in Windows Server 2012 and what to expect when provisioning storage now that using the disk management console is no longer the suggested method. Read some of Posey's remarks below or view his presentation above to learn more.

The Windows Storage Spaces feature refers to the new mechanism for provisioning storage in Windows Server (WS) 2012. As you might recall, in some of the earlier versions of Windows Server, we had a disk management console, that can be used to provision storage. The disk management console does exist in Windows Server 2012, but Windows Storage Spaces is the preferred mechanism.

Windows Storage Spaces does two things: it abstracts physical storage from logical storage, and it provides storage redundancy and resiliency.

There are a couple of Windows Storage Spaces terms that you should know. The first is a 'storage pool.' A storage pool is really nothing more than just a collection of physical disks that are all grouped together.

View the rest of Brien Posey's WS 2012 tip series:

Video tip 1: Native iSCSI Target Software

Video tip 2: Native data deduplication capabilities

Video tip 3: Resilient File System (ReFS)

Video tip 5: Offloaded Data Transfer (ODX)

The other term that you need to know is a 'virtual disk.' For the sake of this discussion, a virtual disk is just a virtual hard disk that gets created on top of a storage pool.

When you use Windows Storage Spaces to create virtual disks, those virtual disks appear as if they were physical disks in the file explorer.

Virtual disks can span multiple disks and can also be thinly provisioned. That's great because a lot of times, it's easier to create a really large thinly provisioned virtual disk than it is to create a small virtual disk to start, and then have to go in and expand later, hoping for enough space.

It also provides you with storage redundancy. It's possible to create virtual disks that span multiple physical disks and in doing so, you can create mirror virtual hard disks -- or you can create virtual hard disks that are protected with parity. In either situation, you've got redundant copies of the data, so that way, if corruption occurs, there's always a good copy of the data to fall back on.

Now, Windows will ask you which type of provisioning you want to use. We can do thin provisioning or fixed provisioning. Thin provisioning only claims physical disk space as needed, so it makes really efficient use of the available physical disk space and you can actually overprovision your storage pool.

The fixed-space option allows you to claim all of the disk space at once. It doesn't use disk space as efficiently, but the advantage is that the volume is going to perform better than it would have if it were being thinly provisioned.

You can manually specify the size or we can just choose the maximum size option. You would also choose a file system. My recommendation is to use Resilient File System (ReFS), because ReFS works really well with Windows Storage Spaces.

About the presenter:
Brien Posey is a regular contributor and a Microsoft MVP with two decades of IT experience. Before becoming a freelance technical writer, Brien was CIO for a national chain of hospitals and health care facilities. He also served as a network administrator for some of the nation's largest insurance companies and for the Department of Defense at Fort Knox.

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