Managing Local Storage

Microsoft Windows Server 2012 includes a convenient, easy to use method of consolidating locally attached storage devices, called Storage Spaces. Storage Spaces allows you to combine the storage spaces from different types and different sizes of locally attached (IDE, SATA, SCSI, SAS) physical disks and allocate this space as needed.

The first step is to create a ‘storage pool’ by selecting the physical disks that you want to manage using Storage Spaces. You can combine all of your physical disks into one storage pool or divide up your physical disks into multiple storage pools.

The next step is to create virtual disks from the storage pool. You can create virtual disks of any size up to the size of the storage space. Additionally, you will choose thin or thick provisioning. Thin provisions allocates space to the virtual disk as needed (just in time provisioning), while thick provisioning allocates all of the space to the virtual disk upon creation. The final set of options for virtual disks is to choose the storage layout: two-way or three-way mirror, simple or parity.        

  • Two-way mirror: Data is written simultaneously to both disks providing good fault tolerance in the event of a single disk failure.
  • Three-way mirror: Data is written simultaneously to three disks providing superior fault tolerance in the event of one or even two disk failures.
  • Parity: Stripes data across 3 disks and writes parity information that can be used to recover data in the event of a disk failure.
  • Simple: Writes data across a single disk. Similar to a simple volume in Windows.

The final step is to create a volume. Creating a volume formats the new space with the desired file system (NTFS, ReFS) and assigns a drive letter to it to allow it to be recognized by the operating system.  

Storage Spaces performance is comparable to a conventional RAID based system when properly configured. Read the white paper published by Fujitsu on Storage Spaces Performance for more information on performance versus RAID and how to optimize Storage Spaces.

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