Study Profiles Storage Benefits of Windows Server 2012

The Enterprise Strategy Group (ESG) described Windows Server 2012 as a "no brainer" for businesses to deploy in terms of storage efficiency and agility.

That assessment is the final conclusion of a "Lab Validation Report" of Windows Server 2012, which was published last month by ESG, a Milford, Mass.-based consulting group. Microsoft sponsored the report, which was produced based on ESG's own hands-on testing, plus interviews of Windows 2012 customers. ESG narrowed the focus of the report to storage and networking based on a September poll, which found that the growth of unstructured data was a top concern for IT managers.

The report focused on just four features in the new server: storage spaces and the Server Message Block (SMB) 3.0 protocol, deduplication, CHKDSK, and the offloaded data transfer (ODX) protocol. For most of the testing, ESG used a Dell 910 machine running Windows Server 2012 with just a bunch of disks (JBODs). An online transaction processing application was used to check the system's scalability and performance.

The study found that the storage spaces feature, which enables scalability by creating virtual pools of storage using commodity hardware, exceeded ESG's expectations in handing a simulated financial brokerage application. Average transaction response times were low, ranging between 0.01 and 0.03 seconds in supporting 3,000 to 24,000 hypothetical users. However, the study cautioned that storage spaces currently lacks "in-box replication" and that it doesn't offer all of the features provided by an "enterprise-class SAN" [storage area network].

The deduplication feature in Windows Server 2012 allows organizations to maximize their disk storage. In some cases, the ESG study found that the deduplication feature resulted in a 98 percent capacity savings. While the deduplication process has a small performance hit on opening files, ESG's study indicated that users wouldn't much notice the performance slowdown for smaller files, such as opening Microsoft Office files.

The study had nothing but praise for the improved CHKDSK in Windows Server 2012. The new CHKDSK can fix simple logical or physical disk errors in about 16 minutes when scanning 10 million files, compared with more than 24 hours for CHKDSK on Windows Server 2008. Part of the speed improvement is due to a new "spotfixing" feature.

Testing of ODX technology on Windows Server 2012 showed that virtual machines could be migrated eight times faster using the ODX protocol compared with not using that protocol. Moreover, ODX didn't hog CPU time or network resources, according to the study.

The study added praise about usability, noting that Server Manager in Windows Server 2012 provides "easy to use" wizards for IT pros configuring storage pools.

The 24-page study Windows Server 2012 Lab Report with storage and networking analysis is free to download via this link (PDF) from the Microsoft Download Center.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is online news editor for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.

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