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Diving into SMB 3.0's past and present

SMB 3.0 offers advanced capabilities that improve performance, reliability and security for Windows Server data centers.

How does SMB work? And what's new in SMB 3.0?

Even the simplest network uses a variety of protocols and standards, allowing servers and other network devices to exchange data and run client-server applications. But it's not enough for modern network file-sharing protocols to simply move data from one point to another -- the protocol must scale, aggregate available bandwidth, move data directly to or from memory, support encryption and perform other tasks critical to everyday enterprise uses. Windows Server relies on the server message block protocol for file sharing across the enterprise data center.

The server message block (SMB) protocol enables workloads to exchange files and initiate services from local or remote computers across a TCP/IP network.

The most current version of SMB is 3.02, appearing in Windows 8.1 and Windows Server 2012 R2. Since SMB is primarily intended to exchange files, it is best used for storage-related tasks, and SMB 3.0 (in Windows Server 2012 and later) supports storage-intensive applications.

Although client-side applications have long used SMB to exchange files with local servers, SMB 3.0 adds better support for remote data exchange across WAN links; this reduces latencies for remote offices accessing centralized servers, while adding security to help prevent data theft. Microsoft Hyper-V in Windows Server 2012 (and later) also supports SMB 3.0, allowing the hypervisor to exchange .VHD files and snapshot files with both standalone (local) and shared storage resources. SMB 3.0 also supports Live Migration, offering the ability to improve the performance of enterprise virtualization, especially on highly consolidated systems with heavy storage activity.

In addition, SMB 3.0 is tailored to high-end enterprise applications. For example, it will interoperate with Microsoft's SQL Server 2008 R2 to store database files on SMB file shares while improving performance and reducing latency -- this can provide significant improvements for large database files.

This was first published in June 2014
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