Release Management Authors: Liz McMillan, Jnan Dash, Lori MacVittie, Gilad Parann-Nissany, Carmen Gonzalez

Related Topics: Containers Expo Blog, Microsoft Cloud, IoT User Interface, Silverlight, Release Management , SDN Journal

Containers Expo Blog: Blog Post

Reduce VMware Storage Costs with Windows Server 2012 Storage Spaces

SAN-like Storage Spaces with Continuous Availability Clustering and NFS Server frees up IT Budgets

Windows Server 2012 can provide key advantages in one of the areas that is near-and-dear to every VMware administrator's budget: Storage! In this article, we'll explore the storage enhancements that Windows Server 2012 offers, and along the way, we'll see how it can help to "right-size" your VMware storage costs so that you have more budget for strategic IT investments ...

Do I need to migrate to Hyper-V to benefit from Windows Server 2012?
Not necessarily.
Sure, lots of IT Pros have migrated to Hyper-V in Windows Server 2012 - or Hyper-V Server 2012, our FREE bare-metal enterprise-grade hypervisor – AND, they’ve experienced the benefits that I mentioned above.  BUT, Windows Server 2012 also includes end-to-end improvements in other important areas, such as Storage, Networking, Security and Management.


Windows Server 2012 Enhancements – Much more than just Hyper-V!

Many of these enhancements in Windows Server 2012 provide great value to IT shops regardless of your current virtualization platform.

Did you say “Storage”? That’s one area where I could use some help!
When I speak with IT Pros at community events, storage is consistently reported as one of the most significant, and growing, hardware costs within their datacenters.  For instance, to support storage demands when using VMware, many IT Pros have traditionally resorted to expensive SAN or NAS appliance solutions in order to address their capacity and IO performance needs.  These storage appliances can cost thousands of dollars per TB of usable storage, and, of course, these high costs can contribute to an inflated total cost for managing a datacenter.

Windows Server 2012, combined with commodity, enterprise SSD drives or SAS disks and inexpensive JBOD storage enclosures, provides exciting opportunities to “right-size” your storage budget.  IT Pros can leverage capabilities such as SAN-like Storage Spaces, Continuously Available Clustering and NFS Server support to easily create an attractive alternative to traditional storage appliances.  This presents the potential to reduce total VMware storage costs many-fold, from several thousand dollars per TB down to just hundreds per TB.

Using a Windows Server 2012 NFS Server Cluster, the resulting storage architecture looks very similar in design to what many SAN or NAS appliances employ “under-the-hood”, but without the high cost of proprietary hardware.


Windows Server 2012 – Enterprise-class Storage at Commodity Costs

In the end, all of the dollars that you save with your new Windows Server 2012 storage solution could be just enough to pay for the server hardware needed for those new scaled-up Hyper-V Server 2012 virtualization hosts that you’ve been wanting! Winking smile Since Hyper-V Server 2012 is FREE, and includes the same Hyper-V features as Windows Server 2012, you could have plenty left over from your "right-sized" storage budget to invest in some really nice virtualization host server hardware.

Sounds interesting … BUT, this can’t be very fast … Can it?
Actually, YES!
By utilizing a new native RPC-XDR transport infrastructure, Windows Server 2012 can deliver optimal NFS performance out-of-the-box without the need to tune any parameters.  The NFS server provides an auto-tuned cache and thread pools along with dynamic resource management that is designed to adapt to varying workloads.  In addition, fast failovers with new per-physical disk resources, tuned failover paths and Network Status Monitor (NSM) notifications mean that NFSv3 clients, such as VMware ESXi hosts, can have fast and transparent failovers even under heavy IO load.

Our NFS protocol team employs veteran designers of the NFS and iSCSI protocol specifications, and they regularly participate in NFS bake-a-thons to help ensure that Windows Server 2012 is providing a robust, reliable and easy-to-deploy NFS storage solution.

Is this some kind of “Virtual Storage Appliance” that costs extra?
Of course not!
All of these storage capabilities are included out-of-the-box with both Windows Server 2012 Standard Edition and Datacenter Edition.  No additional licenses are required.  If you’re already using Windows Server file servers in your shop, upgrading those servers to a Windows Server 2012 cluster can provide an easy path to support both your existing file server workloads as well as the new NFS server capabilities described in this article.

Can this solution help when migrating VM’s to Hyper-V?
Indeed, it can!
The most time-consuming task when upgrading to a new virtualization platform, such as Hyper-V, is often the time it takes to copy VMs between old and new virtualization platforms.  Any storage on a Windows Server 2012 NFS Cluster can also be shared via our native SMB 3.0 network protocol.  During an upgrade to Hyper-V, this means that the storage can simply be removed from the source VMware hosts and presented to the new Hyper-V hosts, ready for the VMs to be upgraded to VHD/VHDX format using your favorite V2V migration tools.  For more details on upgrading to Hyper-V Server 2012, see:

After I migrate VMs to Hyper-V, how does this storage solution change?
It only gets better!
After your VM’s are running on Hyper-V Server 2012, you’ll be able to take advantage of the additional storage improvements provided by the SMB 3.0 network protocol – such as SMB-Direct (RDMA), SMB-Multichannel, and SMB-Scaleout. As the Enterprise Strategy Group verified in their lab results, Windows Server 2012 with SMB 3.0 can provide storage IO throughput for tier-1 Hyper-V VM workloads that is within +/- 1% to 4% of the performance of traditional Fibre Channel storage solutions at approximately 50% less cost.


Hyper-V Server 2012 Tier-1 VM Storage Transactions Comparison


Windows Server 2012 SMB Storage Spaces Cost Comparison

For the full copy of the lab report from which these results were summarized, be sure to check out the following link:

You’ve got my attention! Where can I learn more?
To get started with next steps in evaluating Windows Server 2012 as an effective NFS storage solution for your virtualization environment, follow these guides to walk through the process …


  1. Configure Storage Spaces in Windows Server 2012
  2. Creating a Windows Server 2012 Failover Cluster
  3. Install and Configure NFS Shares on Windows Server 2012
  4. VMware Setup for Windows Server 2012 NFS Server Cluster
  5. Migrate VMs from VMware to Hyper-V and Windows Azure

Once you’ve had a chance to explore these resources, please feel free to share your results below with the rest of our IT Pro community.

Happy right-sizing!

- Keith

Build Your Lab! Build Your Lab! Download Windows Server 2012
Build Your Lab in the Cloud! Don’t Have a Lab? Build Your Lab in the Cloud with Windows Azure Virtual Machines
Join our "Early Experts" study group! Want to Get Certified? Join our Windows Server 2012 "Early Experts" Study Group

More Stories By Keith Mayer

Keith Mayer is a Technical Evangelist at Microsoft focused on Windows Infrastructure, Data Center Virtualization, Systems Management and Private Cloud. Keith has over 17 years of experience as a technical leader of complex IT projects, in diverse roles, such as Network Engineer, IT Manager, Technical Instructor and Consultant. He has consulted and trained thousands of IT professionals worldwide on the design and implementation of enterprise technology solutions.

Keith is currently certified on several Microsoft technologies, including System Center, Hyper-V, Windows, Windows Server, SharePoint and Exchange. He also holds other industry certifications from IBM, Cisco, Citrix, HP, CheckPoint, CompTIA and Interwoven.

Keith is the author of the IT Pros ROCK! Blog on Microsoft TechNet, voted as one of the Top 50 "Must Read" IT Blogs.

Keith also manages the Windows Server 2012 "Early Experts" Challenge - a FREE online study group for IT Pros interested in studying and preparing for certification on Windows Server 2012. Join us and become the next "Early Expert"!

@ThingsExpo Stories
November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Penta Security is a leading vendor for data security solutions, including its encryption solution, D’Amo. By using FPE technology, D’Amo allows for the implementation of encryption technology to sensitive data fields without modification to schema in the database environment. With businesses having their data become increasingly more complicated in their mission-critical applications (such as ERP, CRM, HRM), continued ...
Explosive growth in connected devices. Enormous amounts of data for collection and analysis. Critical use of data for split-second decision making and actionable information. All three are factors in making the Internet of Things a reality. Yet, any one factor would have an IT organization pondering its infrastructure strategy. How should your organization enhance its IT framework to enable an Internet of Things implementation? In his session at @ThingsExpo, James Kirkland, Red Hat's Chief Arch...
Successful digital transformation requires new organizational competencies and capabilities. Research tells us that the biggest impediment to successful transformation is human; consequently, the biggest enabler is a properly skilled and empowered workforce. In the digital age, new individual and collective competencies are required. In his session at 19th Cloud Expo, Bob Newhouse, CEO and founder of Agilitiv, will draw together recent research and lessons learned from emerging and established ...
In past @ThingsExpo presentations, Joseph di Paolantonio has explored how various Internet of Things (IoT) and data management and analytics (DMA) solution spaces will come together as sensor analytics ecosystems. This year, in his session at @ThingsExpo, Joseph di Paolantonio from DataArchon, will be adding the numerous Transportation areas, from autonomous vehicles to “Uber for containers.” While IoT data in any one area of Transportation will have a huge impact in that area, combining sensor...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Enzu will exhibit at the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Enzu’s mission is to be the leading provider of enterprise cloud solutions worldwide. Enzu enables online businesses to use its IT infrastructure to their competitive advantage. By offering a suite of proven hosting and management services, Enzu wants companies to focus on the core of their online busine...
Why do your mobile transformations need to happen today? Mobile is the strategy that enterprise transformation centers on to drive customer engagement. In his general session at @ThingsExpo, Roger Woods, Director, Mobile Product & Strategy – Adobe Marketing Cloud, covered key IoT and mobile trends that are forcing mobile transformation, key components of a solid mobile strategy and explored how brands are effectively driving mobile change throughout the enterprise.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Cloudbric, a leading website security provider, will exhibit at the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Cloudbric is an elite full service website protection solution specifically designed for IT novices, entrepreneurs, and small and medium businesses. First launched in 2015, Cloudbric is based on the enterprise level Web Application Firewall by Penta Security Sys...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Roundee / LinearHub will exhibit at the WebRTC Summit at @ThingsExpo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. LinearHub provides Roundee Service, a smart platform for enterprise video conferencing with enhanced features such as automatic recording and transcription service. Slack users can integrate Roundee to their team via Slack’s App Directory, and '/roundee' command lets your video conference ...
The best way to leverage your Cloud Expo presence as a sponsor and exhibitor is to plan your news announcements around our events. The press covering Cloud Expo and @ThingsExpo will have access to these releases and will amplify your news announcements. More than two dozen Cloud companies either set deals at our shows or have announced their mergers and acquisitions at Cloud Expo. Product announcements during our show provide your company with the most reach through our targeted audiences.
Established in 1998, Calsoft is a leading software product engineering Services Company specializing in Storage, Networking, Virtualization and Cloud business verticals. Calsoft provides End-to-End Product Development, Quality Assurance Sustenance, Solution Engineering and Professional Services expertise to assist customers in achieving their product development and business goals. The company's deep domain knowledge of Storage, Virtualization, Networking and Cloud verticals helps in delivering ...
More and more brands have jumped on the IoT bandwagon. We have an excess of wearables – activity trackers, smartwatches, smart glasses and sneakers, and more that track seemingly endless datapoints. However, most consumers have no idea what “IoT” means. Creating more wearables that track data shouldn't be the aim of brands; delivering meaningful, tangible relevance to their users should be. We're in a period in which the IoT pendulum is still swinging. Initially, it swung toward "smart for smar...
SYS-CON Events announced today that SoftNet Solutions will exhibit at the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. SoftNet Solutions specializes in Enterprise Solutions for Hadoop and Big Data. It offers customers the most open, robust, and value-conscious portfolio of solutions, services, and tools for the shortest route to success with Big Data. The unique differentiator is the ability to architect and ...
“Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. CloudBerry Backup is a leading cross-platform cloud backup and disaster recovery solution integrated with major public cloud services, such as Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud Platform.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Embotics, the cloud automation company, will exhibit at the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Embotics is the cloud automation company for IT organizations and service providers that need to improve provisioning or enable self-service capabilities. With a relentless focus on delivering a premier user experience and unmatched customer support, Embotics is the fas...
In the next five to ten years, millions, if not billions of things will become smarter. This smartness goes beyond connected things in our homes like the fridge, thermostat and fancy lighting, and into heavily regulated industries including aerospace, pharmaceutical/medical devices and energy. “Smartness” will embed itself within individual products that are part of our daily lives. We will engage with smart products - learning from them, informing them, and communicating with them. Smart produc...
As ridesharing competitors and enhanced services increase, notable changes are occurring in the transportation model. Despite the cost-effective means and flexibility of ridesharing, both drivers and users will need to be aware of the connected environment and how it will impact the ridesharing experience. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Timothy Evavold, Executive Director Automotive at Covisint, will discuss key challenges and solutions to powering a ride sharing and/or multimodal model in the a...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Coalfire will exhibit at the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Coalfire is the trusted leader in cybersecurity risk management and compliance services. Coalfire integrates advisory and technical assessments and recommendations to the corporate directors, executives, boards, and IT organizations for global brands and organizations in the technology, cloud, health...
A completely new computing platform is on the horizon. They’re called Microservers by some, ARM Servers by others, and sometimes even ARM-based Servers. No matter what you call them, Microservers will have a huge impact on the data center and on server computing in general. Although few people are familiar with Microservers today, their impact will be felt very soon. This is a new category of computing platform that is available today and is predicted to have triple-digit growth rates for some ...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Transparent Cloud Computing (T-Cloud) Consortium will exhibit at the 19th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. The Transparent Cloud Computing Consortium (T-Cloud Consortium) will conduct research activities into changes in the computing model as a result of collaboration between "device" and "cloud" and the creation of new value and markets through organic data proces...
Cognitive Computing is becoming the foundation for a new generation of solutions that have the potential to transform business. Unlike traditional approaches to building solutions, a cognitive computing approach allows the data to help determine the way applications are designed. This contrasts with conventional software development that begins with defining logic based on the current way a business operates. In her session at 18th Cloud Expo, Judith S. Hurwitz, President and CEO of Hurwitz & ...