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Hi Folks –

I’d like to highlight a new storage paper: Maximizing Storage Efficiency on Windows Server 2012 R2 and Windows Storage Server 2012 R2, which you can download here. This paper highlights storage features that enable you to get more out of your existing storage capacity—and to easily scale that capacity when needed. Here is a brief summary of the topics covered:

The Need for More Efficient Storage

For most companies, data volumes are continuing to grow at a rapid pace. Many of those companies are looking for ways to minimize storage-related costs. But where can you get the technologies needed to maximize storage efficiency, how do they work, how are they deployed, and what do they cost?

With Windows Server 2012, All You Need to Maximize Storage Efficiency is In-the-Box

Windows Server 2012 R2 integrates SAN features with the power and familiarity of Windows Server, enabling you to easily scale up to meet growing storage needs on low-cost, industry-standard hardware. Even better, it provides everything that you need for highly efficient storage that can scale to support the largest workloads. Key technologies that contribute to this capability include:

  • Data Deduplication, which can reduce the amount of disk space required for common storage workloads by 30-90 percent based on Microsoft internal testing. 
  • Storage Spaces, Microsoft’s implementation of storage virtualization, which enhances storage scalability through the abstraction of logical storage from physical storage.
  • Thin Provisioning and Trim, which enable you to deploy only the disk space you need today, expand dynamically when needed, and automatically reclaim storage that is no longer needed.

The paper then dives into each of these technologies in greater detail.

Benefits of Improved Storage Efficiency

The benefits of using Windows Server 2012 R2 to maximize storage efficiency include:

  • Reduced/deferred storage costs. With the technologies in Windows Server 2012 R2, you can store more logical data in less physical disk space, purchase only the physical storage you need today, expand dynamically as needed, and avoid operating costs associated with supporting unused disk capacity until it is actually needed.
  • Low acquisition costs. All features needed to maximize storage efficiency are included in-the-box with Windows Server 2012 R2 (Standard and Datacenter) and Windows Storage Server 2012 R2 Standard, and can be used without any additional hardware, software, or licensing fees.
  • Fast, easy deployment. With Windows Server 2012 R2, there’s no new hardware or software to deploy. Technologies for maximizing storage efficiency are built into the operating system and can be turned-on and configured in just a few minutes.
  • Ease of management. Server Manager in Windows Server 2012 R2 can provide a single view of all your storage, across your datacenter. System administration tasks can also be performed using Windows PowerShell, enabling you to automate provisioning of new storage spaces and virtual disks whether you have one server or multiple servers.

Deployment Scenarios

The technologies for maximizing storage efficiency in Windows Server 2012 R2 are designed to work equally well in your main datacenter or a remote office/branch office (ROBO) scenario. In the ROBO scenario, two additional features built into Windows Server 2012 R2 are often useful: BranchCache, and DFS-Replication. Both of these are discussed in the paper, along with high-level deployment diagrams.

SAN Performance at a Fraction of the Cost

The Enterprise Strategy Group (ESG) tested the Microsoft Storage Stack against a traditional SAN, concluding that the Microsoft Storage Stack provides comparable performance at a fraction of the cost. The paper contains a summary of these results, and the entire report can be found here.

Final Thoughts

If you’re not already thinking about adopting a highly efficient storage infrastructure based on industry standard hardware, you may want to consider one. This paper provides a concise overview of how Windows Server 2012 R2 and Windows Storage Server 2012 R2 can help you save on storage costs by using the latest Microsoft storage technologies to increase storage efficiency. You’ll not only save on disk space, but you’ll be able to achieve performance similar to a traditional SAN at a fraction of the cost.

The entire Maximizing Storage Efficiency paper can be downloaded here. I encourage you to read the paper and learn how you can use Windows Server to create a lean and mean storage infrastructure!

Cheers,
Scott M. Johnson
Senior Program Manager
Windows Storage Server
@supersquatchy