Certified or not for Windows Server 2016 Storage Spaces Direct

Since the release of Windows Server 2016, one of the features that has been in use is Storage Spaces Direct.  I wanted to get this blog out there as there has been some questions regarding what I hardware should I get and is it certified and supported.

Storage Spaces Direct has a bit of a difference in hardware certification than say normal Windows Server Failover Clustering or even Windows Server itself.  As a bit of a refresher for Failover Clustering, this is our stance on what is considered supported.

All hardware and software components in the Failover Cluster meet the qualifications to receive at least one of the following Windows Server logos:

  • Certified for Windows Server 2016 Devices

This logo is designed for line-of-business and mission-critical hardware and software and demonstrates that a hardware or software component meets the highest technical bar for Windows fundamentals and platform compatibility that is set by Microsoft.

  • Certified Windows Server 2016 Systems

This logo is designed for cloud and infrastructure hardware and software. The Certified for Windows Server 2016 logo demonstrates that a server system meets the security, reliability, and manageability requirements of Microsoft products.

The fully configured Failover Cluster passes all required Failover Cluster validation tests.

  • To validate a Failover Cluster, run the Validate a Configuration Wizard in the Failover Cluster Manager snap-in, or run the Windows PowerShell cmdlet Test-Cluster.

For Storage Spaces Direct, there are additional qualifiers on the hardware compatibility list that need to be in place.  In Failover Cluster Manager (and Test-Cluster), there is a specific set of tests for Storage Spaces Direct you will need to run.  For this blog, I will not cover the validation test but wanted to ensure you were aware of it.

First and foremost, the recommendation (not requirement) is to go to the Software Defined Datacenter site and get a complete solution so you know it all works.  Once you are there, click the link for Find a validated hardware and software partner solution.  This will bring you to the vendors that have been specifically testing their complete solutions for Storage Spaces Direct.  Choosing one of their solutions is best as they have tested the entire solution and certified to work.

Another option that many may use is to put together a solution out of hardware they may already have and only have to purchase additional parts to work.  This is a valid option and wanted to point out a few things about it and what you should be looking for.

You want to go to Windows Server Catalog to view what is certified to get the parts you want.  Under Hardware Testing Status is the All Product Categories that you would choose the part you are looking for.  So let's say you are looking for a storage controller.  Once you get to the list, you will see what is certified for what operating system.  For example:

Let's take for example, you want to choose a storage controller certified for Windows Server 2016.  Once it comes up with the description, you are looking for the list of additional qualifiers.  For example, something similar to this:

Certified for Windows

  • Boot 2.2TB+ Disk Volume
  • Boot Device
  • Nano Server Capable
  • SAS Interface
  • SATA Interface
  • Software-Defined Data Center (SDDC) Premium
  • Software-Defined Data Center (SDDC) Standard

If it shows certified for SDDC, you know that the vendor has tested it against Storage Spaces Direct.  In the qualifiers, notice one is Premium and one Standard.  Both are certified, and the infrastructure requirements are the same.  The difference between the two is Premium included a higher level of software defined datacenter component testing such as the full virtual networking stack, System Center Virtual Machine Manager, etc.

One of the questions we get from time to time is what if I do not see the controller I have or want is not showing one of the SDDC qualifiers but is still certified for Windows Server 2016.  The thing to consider is everything that is on the Server Catalog has been tested by the vendor and submitted to Microsoft.  If it does not show the SDDC qualifiers but does show other information, that generally means one of two things:

  1. The vendor tested it and it failed
  2. The vendor never tested it

There is no way for us to know which it was.  If you want to pursue it further, you should get with the vendor directly.

So to wrap things up, the recommendation (not requirement) is to go with the complete solution offered by a vendor.  If you start piecing together hardware, keep in mind that those various pieces may or may not work properly together, the driver or firmware may not be proper for Storage Spaces Direct, etc.  It very well may work just fine and you never have any issues.  If you go with the second option and you start running into storage issues, the combination of the storage controller and storage is suspect and needs further investigation.

I hope to have cleared things up about Storage Spaces Direct and hardware certification/supportability.