Windows Server 2012 R2 Storage Spaces suits SSD deployments

Stephen J. Bigelow

Does Storage Spaces allow or improve the use of solid-state-drive devices?

The introduction of storage tiering in Windows Server 2012 R2 Storage Spaces is ideally suited to the deployment of solid-state-drive devices.

Solid-state drive devices are at least an order of magnitude faster than conventional mechanical hard disk drive devices, so using SSDs in the same role as HDDs can result in underutilized performance. However, SSD devices are more expensive than HDD devices, so it's important to use SSDs for key enterprise applications -- where you can reap the most benefits from performance improvements and cost savings.

Storage tiering allows virtual disks to map to SSD or HDD media, so "fast" virtual disks can be created with SSD storage and "slow" virtual disks can be created with HDDs. Storage Spaces breaks data into 1-MB segments and tracks how frequently each segment is accessed.

Segments frequently accessed can be moved onto fast SSD disks, while segments that are infrequently accessed can be moved onto slow HDD disks. Segments' tiers can also be changed dynamically over time. For example, new data that needs to be accessed frequently may start on a fast disk but then move to a slow disk as the data ages. If that data sees renewed use, the segments may be moved back to a fast disk.

This tiering determination takes place on a daily basis, usually during non-peak hours such as 1 a.m. IT administrators can change the schedule to accommodate data center activity and limit the amount of data that can be moved in any tiering cycle.

Storage utilization and management are critically important for modern enterprise data centers; Windows Server 2012 R2 Storage Spaces seeks to provide enterprise-class storage features using simple and inexpensive disk arrays. The release of Windows Server 2012 R2 promises new and improved features that build on this philosophy and enhance the usefulness of SSD technology for enterprise applications.

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