Evaluate This – Storage Spaces

So far in this series I have used the new storage features of Windows Server 2012 as a  place to run VMs from, but there’s more to it than that.  Shared storage used to mean presenting SAN storage inside a cluster, and you relied on your SAN experts to provision the storage you needed.  However with SAS / JBOD technologies coming along it’s possible to create storage that’s still highly available.  However you might still want access to some of the clever things a SAN can do like thin provisioning, where you define storage you plan to use but actually haven’t got yet.  So in this short screencast I show how storage spaces in Windows Server meets this need..


To try this out all you’ll need is one virtual machine running on one laptop and an Evaluation Copy of Windows Server 2012


I used a bunch of SCSI disks in my demo VM to build a storage space and they were all the same size. They don’t have to all be SCSI,  they could be attached via USB, SATA etc. and can be of varying size and performance.  However if you want to  create a storage pool in a cluster then the disks must be SAS (Serial attached SCSI) for that.  Also bear in mind that the pool will work down to the slowest disk and not up to the fastest.

I do have a script to build my fileserver, which in turn relies on a configuration file to add in the roles and features I need, and it builds form a sysprep copy of Windows Server 2012 with an answer file to join it to my Contoso domain.  It does have a really useful function from Simon to rename the VM in active directory (so it is called FileServer1 in AD as well being the name of the VM in Hyper-V).

Rather than running a virtual machine or using the storage space for ordinary files, in this screencast I used it to host a SQL Server database. SQL Server 2012 has support for storing databases on SMB shares and  I have seen 200,000 iops in SQL Server where the database is on a remote share like this.  However the UI in Server manager doesn’t seem to allow you to navigate across shares (have I been away form SQL Server too long?) so I did the attach from a simple  SQL Server T-SQL script.

Storage spaces often raises a lot of questions at our camps so here’s a good FAQ on TechNet.  If you are curious about performance my advice is to test your big idea thoroughly and check this script and whitepaper to ensure you have the optimal setup.