Microsoft Partner Enablement – Storage

Disco Duro

Disco Duro (Photo credit: IgnacioDfine)

Storage Spaces

Storage Spaces is defined as an inbox solution for Windows to manage storage. Spaces is designed for Direct Attached Storage (DAS) only, which means local to the server chassis or via SAS.

The ability to virtualise disk storage by group standard disks into storage pools allows you to carve various Pools out of the disks, from these pools you are able to create virtual disks, or Storage Spaces.

Spaces have the ability to be Thin Provisioned and can be striped across all physical disks in a pool, this also allows the option to Mirror or Parity as these are supported within Spaces. At this stage Windows allows you to create volumes on the Storage Space and allows data to be placed on the volume.

Storage Tiering for Spaces

Storage Tiering for Spaces, allows the optimisation of storage performance, this is accomplished through the blending of high-cost and low-cost storage. Low-cost providing the capacity and high-cost (SSD as an example) providing the performance.

Hot data (or consistently read/written) is moved automatically to the high cost storage, whereas cold data is assigned to the low cost using Sub-File-Level Data Movement.

Utilising write-back-cache, DDs absorb random writes that are typical in virtualised environments. If required, hot data blocks can be manually assigned (or pinned) to the high cost storage to increase the performance. This option can be beneficial in driving applications to utilise the best available storage and as such achieve the best performance.

SMB 3.0 File Shares (compares to VMware – NFS)

A Scale-Out File Server allows VM’s and hosts to view a simple UNC path for file locations in structured Tiered Storage, this enables admins to grow and scale storage on demand.

The benefits of using this kind of technology include;

  • Low OPEX and CAPEX
  • Simplified provisioning and management
  • Adding multiple NICs in File Servers allows SMB Multichannel – enabling higher throughput and reliability (NICs are required to be the same type and speed)
  • RDMA NICs allow SMB Direct offloading – Network I/O Processing delegated to the NIC itself.

Storage Deduplication

Deduplication maximises capacity by removing duplicate data. The benefits of Deduplication include;

  • Reduces data – variable-size chunking and compression
  • Reduced amounts of data to improve backup/archive/migration speeds
  • Low memory and CPU impact
  • Configuration options surrounding the schedule of compression
  • Primary server workload transparency

    English: Trusted Platform Module on Asus mothe...

    English: Trusted Platform Module on Asus motherboard P5Q PREMIUM Polski: Trusted Platform Module na płycie głównej Asusa P5Q PREMIUM (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

  • Redundant metadata and critical data

Windows Server 2012 R2 – Provides the ability to deduplicate a running VDI, this both increases performance AND minimises storage requirements.

Bitlocker Drive Encryption – Built in disk encryption to protect sensitive data

Data protection is built into the Hypervisor, allowing;

  • Support for used disk space only encryption
  • Integrates with TPM (Trusted Platform Module) chip
  • Network unlock and AD integration
  • Supports multiple disk types – DAS/SAN/Cluster Shared Volumes/ Windows Server 2012 File Server share

There is a slight overhead to the encryption but there are many configuration options to minimise the impact to your network, including on-demand encryption.

NIC Teaming – Network Card Resiliency

Hyper-V NIC Teaming is vendor agnostic and available out of the box.

Some of the benefits of Hyper-V NIC Teaming include;

  • Local or remote management through PowerShell or UI
  • Enables teams of up to 32 network adapters
  • Aggregates bandwidth as well as providing traffic failover
  • Large vendor support from Microsoft.

Summary –

The above features are available with Hyper-V in both 2012 & R2 versions, these features are comparable to the VMware vSphere 5.5 Enterprise Plus option.

Data deduplication and storage encryption is only available in Hyper-V, proving that Microsoft are starting to take Hyper-V forward, above and beyond the current technologies available.

Microsoft Partner Enablement – Host configuration with Hyper-V

At this point of the seminar we began delving into the features of Hyper-V and the benefits this represents.

We began with the storage aspects of Hyper-V;

  • Support for iSCSI and Fibre Channel – Allowing integration with existing storage infrastructure/investments quickly and easily.
  • Multipath I/O – In-box for resiliency, increased performance and partner extensibility.

To elaborate on MPIO, this basically allows a host to have 2HBA’s/iSCSI NICs with multiple paths to the storage. If MPIO wasn’t installed the host would see two versions of the same LUN. MPIO allows Windows to manage and use upto 32 paths between storage devices and the Windows host OS. The host uses the in box Microsoft DSM to provide a single view, the framework for MPIO allows storage providers to plug-in, by default, and optimise performance and availability.


Offloaded Data Transfers – Offloads storage-intensive tasks to the SAN hardware.

To enable you to paint a minds-eye picture,

When migrating a host you will request the storage to copy the data across the network to another location, in this scenario with ODX, the host sends a token to the SAN to provision the storage for the migration but by copying it through the SAN itself rather than going out through the network and back into the SAN again. As you can imagine this scenario is a lot faster than the traditional way.

Other benefits include;

  • Rapid provisioning and migration of VM’s
  • Faster transfers on large files
  • Minimised latency
  • Maximised array throughput
  • Less CPU and network use
  • Performance not limited to network throughput or server use
  • Improved datacentre capacity and scale


Microsoft Partner Enablement – Hyper-V

There are 3 possible version types to deploy Hyper-V:

  • Server with GUI
  • Server Core (+ opportunity to install other roles)
  • Free standalone Hyper-V Server 2012 (Server core without other roles)

As a hypervisor all three of the options allow the same features and capabilities.


Traditional per server installation options include;

  • Deploy from DVD/ISO
  • Deploy from USB Stick
  • Network Deployment

Traditional Network deployment methods;

  • System Center Configuration Manager 2012 SP1 (SCCM)
  • Microsoft Deployment Toolkit 2012 U1 (MDT)
  • Windows Deployment Services (WDS)

With the traditional network deployments you have various benefits depending on the level of deployment you require, as an example;

  • The MDT allows a LiteTouch deployment which effectively means MANY of the options required to deploy and interact with (wizards) are automated during the deployment process.
  • The SCCM allows a ZeroTouch deployment which effectively means ALL of the options required to deploy and interact with (wizards) are automated during the deployment process.

The work behind the scenes varies massively between a LiteTouch and ZeroTouch deployment and will need to be considered when implementing, for example, a zero touch deployment would be a great solution in any environment, but this is really looking towards a massive deployment scenario, such as 50+ hosts, whereas a 10 user business may just benefit from a LiteTouch (for ease of redeployment) or physical deployment via media or USB.

The preferred Hyper-V deployment option would be to utilise Virtual Machine Manager – this utilises the SCCM and WDS capabilities but works around a Virtual Infrastructure.

Whichever of the network deployment options you decide on, be mindful that Microsoft Hyper-V is a stateful PXE deployment, at this moment in time VMware Auto Deploy is the only Hypervisor of the two that allows a Stateless option (introduced in vSphere 5.1).

At this point the course went into a comparison between Hyper-V and ESXi and the maximums for scalability, however I’ll summerise as we rarely reach these in any environment and we can reference them if needed.


  • Max 320 logical processors and 4TB physical memory per host
  • 1024 VM’s per host


  • 64 Physical Nodes
  • 8000 VM’s


  • 64 vProcessors and 1TB RAM
  • In-guest **NUMA supported (aligns with host resources to increase performance)

**NUMA – Non-Uniform Memory Access – As defined by Wikipedia –

Non-Uniform Memory Access is a computer memory design used in multiprocessing, where the memory access time depends on the memory location relative to a processor. Under NUMA, a processor can access its own local memory faster than non-local memory (memory local to another processor or memory shared between processors).

Support for Guest OS’s

Windows 8 – 32 Virtual CPUs

Windows 7/SP1 – 4 Virtual CPUs

Vista SP2/XP SP3/XP x64 SP3 – 2 Virtual CPUs

CentOS/Red Hat/SUSE/OpenSUSE/Ubuntu – 64 Virtual CPUs


Thanks for viewing and I hope this post was a helpful reference

Steve – Guru365

Microsoft Partner Enablement – Cloud OS

Over the past few years we have seen a massive shift within business infrastructure with regards to I.T dictating the services, whereas now users are demanding more and more, from anywhere, on any device. This transition has caused many a headache, compatability, compliance, training, time, the list goes on. Microsoft have researched these trends have devised solutions around the 3 core infrastructure components –

Compute – Processing/Memory

Storage – SAN/NAS

Network – Switching/Routing

Surrounding these 3 key infrastructure areas, these components can be utilised in many different ways and because of this, providing services that allow self-service and on-demand generation is a key area for the design of the Cloud OS.

Cloud Computing – The ability to host, store and migrate services to and from the cloud.

New social and app patterns – Applications for business and social designed for all devices from anywhere.

Consumerisation of I.T – The demands of users for services from the I.T department (of which needs to ensure compliance with the Business)

Data Explosion – Ensuring data is properly stored for DR and backup, businesses are generating more and more and expanding beyond current onsite infrastructure requirements.

Microsoft’s Cloud OS takes all of these ingredients on board and provides solutions from the one platform;



Service Providers

The one platform approach is such a massive selling point from anyones point of view, simply having one login for all these services makes it an extremely valuable option. Having to ‘manage’ accounts isn’t the best job in IT and doesn’t innovate the I.T team (speaking from a managed services prospective) so the better Microsoft can make this all encompassing package, the better for most managed service providers. As an example, several accounts do not need to be maintained, you simply federate your domain with Microsoft and the cloud services will simply refer back to your onsite Active Directory infrastructure to complete the authentication.

The one platform approach goes down further into the hierarchy and as such covers the following;

Development – Developing from one platform for many differing devices is a huge incentive for any business.

Management – Ability to control aspects of devices and services provided to users (regardless of the device they access it from).

Data – Ensuring recoverable data stores and high availability to access at any point in time regardless of ‘outages’.

Identity – Having one login for all services enables a simple solution for users – “I need this…..” – “Then, please login here”

Virtualisation – Enabling a robust and highly available infrastructure to manage and maintain without downtime is key in today’s society.

Microsoft vs VMware – Comparison of key technologies

Hypervisor comparison

With this particular slide we’re able to compare, like-for-like products between Microsoft and VMware.

The key point to address in this particular scenario is MS will provide the Hypervisor free of charge (either by a standalone ‘server core’ or as part of the Windows Server 2012 purchase), the other components are part of System Center.

From a VMware point of view, they sell you the hypervisor with various ‘levels’ that unlock the ability to add bolt-ons. To realise the full potential of the solution, you will be required to license the ‘software’ at an ‘Enterprise’ level.

Microsoft have gone for the ‘undercut’ approach with regards to pricing, there are significant costs savings with regards to licensing the features, and Microsoft have a simpler model, if you want more, get System Center and you can have it all!

For a little more information Microsoft have a website allowing you to check the hardware you have is supported by Microsoft. is the site for checking your hardware and what is available/supported

If you have requirements you cal always call PCS and we can spec and price a solution for you – 08452414155

Microsoft Partner Enablement

As a Microsoft Partner, we’re often invited to attend various courses and seminars, this one in particular peaked my interest, an in-depth technical overview of some of the latest products and updates from Microsoft.

Image representing Microsoft as depicted in Cr...

Image via CrunchBase

The course title was – Microsoft Visualization with Windows Server 2012 R2 & System Center 2012 R2

Coming from a VCP background and attended the relevant courses for the VMware VCP – vSphere Datacentre exams I was intrigued to look a bit more in depth to the Microsoft offering of Hyper-visors and the technology that Microsoft are looking to bolt into it to make an all encompassing container for business.

To my delight it is on par if not better. I say better because I use Microsoft products and they way it has been designed is similar to what I am used to with other Microsoft products, this I particularly like. It makes my hunting for particular features intuative and a better use of my time. At then end of the day, I want to complete something, not only do I want it done right, but I want it done quickly. An important first point I’d imagine a lot of technical people in my position would agree with.

The technology itself is very similar, there are swings and roundabouts that offset against each other in comparison tables, but for me Microsoft have it. Not only are they creating the Operating Systems and putting all the work into that side of things, but they are genuinely a player in the Hyper-visor level now, run an OS in a third party virtual environment or use a virtual environment that has been designed with the Operating System build in mind. It all makes obvious sense. Exchange and SQL performance improvements are a great example of this. *Insert ‘stat here* 🙂

The delivery of the course was by a very technically minded marketing person, he knew what he was talking about and didn’t sugar coat that there were some areas that need improvement, but better than that, each time we were informed of a possible issue with something and then quoted a possible time frame for this to be resolved and improved. Microsoft work on things, now! An understanding that not everything is going to be perfect first time round is the reason they are THE player in what they do – business IT solutions (all encompassing these days)

I digress…..

I am looking a bit further into a number of points that were raised during the course, new products and services available to utilize as well as some ‘features’ that were not available in the SP1 release of Windows Server 2012.

The list of other items I hope to tick off include (but not limited to);

Windows Azure

Windows Intune

System Center Configuration Manager

System Center Operations Manager

Hyper-V (R2)

As well as the inner workings of all of these products.

Windows 1.0, the first version, released in 1985

Windows 1.0, the first version, released in 1985 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’m not going to be able to do this all over night so I will tick the list off and post links on this particular post so you can see the progress, although checking back in to see the newest posts wouldn’t hurt the statistics? 😉

Anyhow, as a conclusion – Microsoft have done some pretty amazing things recently, I for one have had my glass emptied with VMware and now I’m ready to pour in the sweet sweet nectar of Hyper-V and all the possibilities the CLOUD OS provides.

Check back soon and thanks for viewing!

Windows Server 2012 R2 SMB 3.0 Scale-Out File Server that uses Shared VHDX to create a simulated JBOD for clustered Storage Spaces

Courtesy of

Note: This is unsupported in Windows 2012 R2 and should only be used in a lab/test environment

Many thanks to Aidan Finn for sharing this with us at the Partner Practice Enablement Labs hosted by Microsoft

Follow Aidan on Twitter for more excellent Hyper-V information –

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