As we get closer to Beta 2 of Windows Server codenamed "Longhorn" - there will be a lot of talk on the bigger features that Longhorn will deliver....Network Access Protection, Read-Only Domain Controller, Server Core, Secure Startup, Role Management Tools, the list goes on.

These are all no doubt nifty and cool features, but the lesser-known features of Longhorn Server are sometimes the ones that can really make a difference to a customer. 

One of the features that have come a long way with Longhorn server is the SMB protocol - now SMB2. The original SMB protocol is filled with many limitations that were acceptable when it was designed, but seems completely inadequate now that technology has grown significantly.

We have listened to our customers on the limitations that were present with the original SMB protocol and have removed the restrictive constants in the protocol so we never need to worry about the protocol itself being the limiting factor for scalability. This includes increasing the number of concurrent open file handles on the server, the number of shares that a server can share out amongst other key enhacements which inlcude:

  • SMB2 will have transaction support, i.e. full two-phase commit transactional semantics are available over the new SMB protocol. This takes advantage of the new Transactional File System (TxF) feature in NTFS in Longhorn Server
  • Client Side Encryption. This allows over the wire encryption of data, i.e. a file is encrypted on the client and sent out to the server where previously the file would have been sent in the clear over the wire and encrypted on the server
  • Support for symbolic links over the new protocol
  • Supports an arbitrary extensible way of compounding operations to reduce round trips. This is what will primarily enable less chattiness which has often been a major pain point
  • The new protocol supports larger buffer sizes than previously allowed

Cool, huh?

- Ward Ralston