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Microsoft introduces Windows Storage Server 2008

Microsoft’s latest version of Windows Storage Server has now hit RTM, with a bunch of new features for Windows 2008. In a recent blog post, Microsoft senior technical product manager Jason Buffington described it as “the Saleen Ford Mustang of file services” (I’m paraphrasing, but check out his post for the full analogy and it will make more sense).

I listened in on a TechNet webcast this morning with Buffington and storage solutions program manager Scott Johnson to learn a little more about what to expect from WSS 2008, which appears to offer quite a few improvements over the file management capabilities already present in Windows Server 2008.

Most of the time was spent talking about the new Single Instance Storage (SIS) engine, which Johnson described as the “big bang feature” for WSS. The SIS engine is designed to save disk space through file de-duplication. It was described to work like this: if 15 people were to save the same file on the file server, the SIS engine would wean that down to one shared file. However, if one of those people (let’s call him Joe) were to go in and make a change to it, then Joe would have his own version, while the other 14 people would still share the original.

A study was also presented where those using production servers with SIS saw a reported 60% savings in storage costs over the past two years (though it was noted that mileage would vary – of course). Both Buffington and Johnson also stated that while admins could turn SIS off if they wanted to, it’s recommended to just leave it be.

Other SIS notes:

  • It only runs on NTFS, and can’t be run on boot or system drives.
  • Will not de-duplicate encrypted files, files less than 32 KB or files with hard links.
  • Can be configured and managed entirely from the command line.

Other additions to Windows Storage Server 2008 include remote administration via the command line, support for clusters and WMI scripting and iSCSI Software Target 3.2.

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