Storage in Windows Server 2012 is more than firing  up a few file shares and setting up security on them. With SMB3 file shares can now be used to host high performance application data like running hyper-V virtual machines and SQL Server databases.  Speed is one thing but reliability is what really matters and in the server world that means high availability and in Server 2012 you can now create a file server role in a cluster.  The nodes (up to 8 for this role) need to see some sort of shared storage but not necessarily a SAN. As you can see in this short screencast it’s a simple exercise and the share can be configured for a variety of uses including NFS.

Notes:

This role also uses the clustered shared volume technology introduced in Windows Server 2008 R2 for live migrations in Hyper-V. Actually you must use CSV if you are using the share for application data as this hands off the read access to another node in a cluster fast enough to enable continuous availability.

In my demo I did everything in VMs except having an iscsi target on my host, and will this is great to show it working and to evaluate the technology. However this really gets interesting if you create something called a collapsed cluster. The hardware vendors are working on a cluster in a box where several computers in a commodity racked box are cross wired to SAS/JBOD disks.  You could then create a clustered file share on this and put your virtual machines into the same cluster and then they too would be highly available as there would be no single point of failure in this box, and you wouldn’t need a SAN to do it.  I’ll show you how this works in a separate video.