Hardware options for highly available Windows Server 2012 systems using shared, directly-attached storage

Highly available Windows Server 2012 systems using shared, directly-attached storage can be built using either Storage Spaces or a validated clustered RAID controller.


Option 1 – Storage Spaces

You can build a highly available shared SAS system today using Storage Spaces.

Storage Spaces works well in a standalone PC, but it is also capable of working in a Windows Server Failover Clustering environment. 

For implementing Clustered Storage Spaces, you will need the following Windows Server 2012 certified hardware:

  • Any SAS Host Bus Adapter or HBA (as long as it’s SAS and not a RAID controller, you should be fine)
  • SAS JBODs or disk enclosures (listed under the “Storage Spaces” category on the Server catalog)
  • SAS disks (there’s a wide variety of those, including capacity HDDs, performance HDDs and SSDs)

You can find instructions on how to configure a Clustered Storage Space in Windows Server 2012 at https://blogs.msdn.com/b/clustering/archive/2012/06/02/10314262.aspx.

A good overview of Storage Spaces and its capabilities can be found at https://social.technet.microsoft.com/wiki/contents/articles/15198.storage-spaces-overview.aspx

There's also an excellent presentation from TechEd that covers Storage Spaces at https://channel9.msdn.com/Events/TechEd/NorthAmerica/2012/WSV315


Option 2 – Clustered RAID Controllers

The second option is to build a highly available shared storage system using RAID Controllers that are designed to work in a Windows Server Failover Cluster configuration.

The main distinction between these RAID controllers and the ones we used before is that they work in sets (typically a pair) and coordinate their actions against the shared disks.

Here are some examples:

  • The HP StoreEasy 5000 cluster-in-a-box uses Clustered RAID controllers that HP sources and certifies. You can find details at the HP StoreEasy product page.
  • LSI is working on a Clustered RAID controller with Windows Server 2012 support. This new line of SAS RAID Controllers is scheduled for later this year. You can get details on availability dates from LSI.


Both options work great for all kinds of Windows Server 2012 Clusters, including Hyper-V Clusters, SQL Server Clusters, Classic File Server Clusters and Scale-Out File Servers.

You can learn more about these solutions in this TechEd presentation: https://channel9.msdn.com/Events/TechEd/Europe/2012/WSV310