New Storage Tiering coming in Server 2012 R2 – TechEd 2013 Favorites can try Storage Spaces in Server 2012 today!As you may already be aware, at TechEd this year in New Orleans, several announcements about the new “R2” versions of various products were made.  Windows Server 2012 R2 and System Center 2012 R2 were just two of the products being updated later this year, and for which preview releases will be available later this month for evaluation. (Watch this blog for details.)

One of my favorite things (which is why this article is my next in our “TechEd 2013 Favorites” series) announced that is coming in Windows Server 2012 R2 is new capabilities in Storage Spaces

“Storage Spaces?”

Okay.. for those of you not familiar with Storage Spaces; from the TechNet description:

Storage Spaces in Windows Server 2012 and Windows 8 enables cost-effective, optimally used, highly available, scalable, and flexible storage solutions for business-critical (virtual or physical) deployments. Windows Server 2012 and Windows 8 deliver sophisticated storage virtualization capabilities, which empower customers to use industry-standard storage for single computer and scalable multinode deployments. It is appropriate for a wide range of customers, from consumers using Windows 8 for personal storage, to enterprise and cloud hosting companies using Windows Server 2012 for highly available storage that can cost-effectively grow with demand.

So, with cheap hardware (think JBOD arrays vs. expensive SAN solutions), and just using built-in capabilities of Windows Server, you can create pools of storage that can be dynamically provisioned and allocated.  You can thin-provision virtual disks (think LUNs) that, when running short of actual space, can be added to dynamically without having to tear-it-down and replace it with something bigger. 

HINT: If you want to play with Storage Spaces without dedicating hardware to it, check out this blog post on how to use a free Windows Azure Trial to try it out:

“That sounds pretty good, Kevin.  But what’s new in R2?”

In R2 we give you the ability to add SSD storage and traditional spinning disks into storage pools, and the storage subsystem is able to prioritize how that storage will be most efficiently used.  Certified hardware will be detected to be either of type SSD or HDD.

“Why is that important?”

Well.. think about your typical storage use.  How much of it is actually in-use frequently?

“A very small amount compared to the rest of it.”

Exactly.  Let’s just say for example that 90% of your stored data is just sitting there not being used.  But 10% is actively being accessed and/or changed.  It would make sense to have the idle data sitting on slower HDDs, and the frequently used data on the SSDs, wouldn’t it?


Well, that’s what Storage Spaces will do for you automatically in Windows Server 2012 R2.   Every so often (at an interval that can be adjusted), the storage system will move bits around based on the “heat map” of which blocks of data are being used most frequently. 

“That’s very cool.  But can I also specify files that I absolutely want to give SSD preferential treatment to?  I have base disks for Windows client VMs that I want to force to the SSD.”

Absolutely.  In this case, it’s on a file-by-file basis.  But you can definitely designate a file to be on the SSDs  vs. the HDDs.  

“Sounds amazing!”

I agree.

For more information, please view the following breakout session recording from TechEd 2013 NA: Storage Spaces: What’s New in Windows Server 2012 R2

Download the deck and video for offline viewing.

Session Index – Storage Spaces: What’s New in Windows Server 2012 R2


4 thoughts on “New Storage Tiering coming in Server 2012 R2 – TechEd 2013 Favorites

  1. Hmmm.  I thought TechEd was in New Orleans this year.  At least that's where it seemed like I was.  Did I go to the wrong one?  ;-P


  2. Um.. wow.. I must've been tired when I composed that opening paragraph.  Yes, indeed, it was in New Orleans.
    I'll correct it.  (sigh)


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