Microsoft’s strategy is about addressing storage costs and management complexity through the use of:
- world class infrastructure on commodity hardware
- Finding smarter ways to store data
- using storage active-tiering
- offload the complexity to Microsoft
How does Storage spaces work? You attach the storage directly to your nodes and then connect the nodes together in a cluster. You then create a storage volume across the the cluster.
When you create the volume you select the resiliency. You have the following three options:
- Fast but uses allot of storage
- Slower but uses less storage
- Mirror-accelerated parity
- This allows you to create volumes that use both mirroring and parity. This is fast but conserves space as well
Storage Spaces Direct is a great option for running File Servers as VMs. This allows you to isolate file server VMs by use VMs running on a storage spaces direct volume. In Windows 2016 you also have the ability to introduce Storage QoS on Storage Spaces to deal with noisy neighbors. It allows you to predefine QoS storage policies to prioritize storage performance for some workloads.
You also have the ability to Dedup. Dedup works by taking unique chunks to a dedup chunk store and replacing the original block with a reference to the unique block. Ideal use cases for Microsoft Dedup is general purpose file servers, VDI and backup.
You may apply Dedup to a SQL Server and Hyper-V but it depends on how much demand there is on the system. High Random I/O workloads are not ideal for Dedup. Dedup is only supported on NTFS on Windows Server 2016. It will support ReFS on Windows Server 1709 which is the next release.
Microsoft has introduced Azure File Sync. With Azure File Sync you are able to centralize your File Services. You can use your on-premises File services to cache files for faster local performance. It is a true file share so it is services use standard SMB and NFS.
Shifting your focus from on-premises file services allows you to take advantage of cloud based backup and DR. Azure File Sync has a fast DR recovery option to get you back up and running in minutes.
Azure File Sync requires Windows 2012 or Windows 2016 and enables you to install a service that tracks file usage. It also teams the server with an Azure File Share. Files that are not touched over time are migrated to Azure File services.
To recover you simply deploy a clean server and reinstall the service. The namespace is recovered right away so the service is available quickly. When the users request the files a priority restore is performed from Azure based storage. Azure File Sync allows your branch file server to have a fixed storage profile as older files move to the cloud.
With this technology you can introduce follow the sun scenarios were work on one file server is synced through Azure File Share to a different region so it is available.
On the roadmap is cloud-to-cloud sync which allows the Azure File Shares to sync through the Azure backbone to different regions. When you have cloud-to-cloud sync the moment the branch server cannot connect to its primary Azure File Share it will go to the next closest.
Azure File Sync is now publically available in five “5” Azure Regions.