Windows Server 2012 will bring basic storage virtualization to the masses, writes Wikibon Analyst Scott Lowe in his latest Wikibon Professional Alert, and while it doesn’t have the features of technology leader Nexenta, it will benefit users and speed up the virtualization of large numbers of data centers.
Overall, he says, Windows Server 2012 is impressive in its data management tools. The virtualization comes in the form of Storage Spaces that allows users to pool multiple physical hard disk units to create highly resilient, reliable, feature-rich storage arrays for individual workloads. It includes centralized management, storage aggregation, elastic capacity expansion, and “even thin provisioning.” And it comes as part of a familiar, standard product from a major vendor that has strong relationships with large numbers of organizations rather than as an exotic piece of extra software from a small startup. This means that every user that updates to Server 2012, something Lowe recommends companies do as quickly as possible because of the advantages it provides, will automatically have server virtualization capabilities running in-house.
However, this is only part of what Server 2012 offers. It also has deduplication built in, making this enterprise-level tool available to midrange companies to help control growing demand for disk space. And it has made “massive improvements to the Server Message Block (SMB) protocol.” These have a major positive impact on the performance and reliability of storage-related network communications. The result is that administrators can continue to use their familiar structures while SQL databases, Exchange, and Hyper-V virtual machines can be stored on normal SBM 3-enhanced file shares. This eliminates the need to retrain staff to manage complex storage and configure iSCSI and Fiber Channel connections.
Scott’s recommendation: “CIOs shoud take a critical look at Windows Server 2012 for what it brings to the table.” Certainly, he says, virtualizing storage has its risks, but it can also save a chunk, particularly for companies that are seeing storage costs decimating IT budgets. And, “don’t forget that server virtualization used to be considered high risk, too.”
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