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Dell Supports Storage Spaces on Windows Server 2012 R2

Dell today announced hardware product support for Microsoft's "storage spaces" feature of Windows Server 2012 R2.

Dell's PowerEdge Servers, its SAS Host Bus Adapters, as well as its PowerVault MD1200 and MD1220 storage enclosures, can be used with the storage spaces feature of Windows Server 2012 R2, according to the company. Ironically, Microsoft had warned back in November that storage spaces had a flaw in working with Windows Server 2012 R2. However, that situation only applied to Window Server 2012 R2 running in a virtual machine on Windows Azure and has been fixed, according to Microsoft.

Storage spaces enables the creation of flexible "storage pools," or virtualized storage areas, from "just a bunch of disks," such as a combination of hard drives and solid-state drives. The feature is designed to permit disk swap-outs in the event of failures, without interrupting operations, as well as the ability to add hard drives to expand storage.

Dell is supporting Microsoft's second-generation storage spaces with Windows Server 2012 R2. However, Dell did not support the first-generation product that had its debut with Windows Server 2012.

"Dell doesn't support running Windows Sever 2012 Storage Spaces in a production environment," states Dell's white paper, "Deploying Windows Server 2012 R2 Storage Spaces on Dell PowerVault MD1200 and MD1220."

In addition, back in December, Dell had indicated that it didn't support clustered storage spaces on its PowerEdge VRTX platform.

Dell also sells dedicated storage area network (SAN) products and services, so its embrace of storage spaces could affect those sales. Microsoft markets storage spaces on Windows Server 2012 R2 as a lower cost option for enterprises and service providers compared with running iSCSI-based SANs. That case is made in a Microsoft-published case report in which service provider NTTX claims that it saved $20,000 to $50,000 in maintenance costs by using storage spaces instead of a SAN.

Dell, in announcing support for storage spaces in Windows Server 2012 R2, indicated in a released statement that hosters and cloud service providers had been looking for lower cost options than SAN solutions.

"They tell us they often don't need the 'bundled' set of data services and features that come with storage area network (SAN) systems," Dell's announcement explained.

Other hardware vendors besides Dell support storage spaces. Examples include DataOn, Fujitsu, Intel, Iron Networks, RAID Inc. and SuperMicro, according to a Microsoft spokesperson. The list of partners supporting storage spaces can be found at this page.

Storage spaces works with "commodity" drives, including a mix of Serial ATA (SATA), Serial-Attached SCSI (SAS), USB storage and even solid-state drives. However, Microsoft lists some nuances to enable high availability with storage spaces in this blog post. Disk-support details are further explained in this storage spaces TechNet article.

At its most basic level, the hardware has to support Windows Server 2012 requirements to enable storage spaces. The storage arrays used can't layer RAID implementations in ways that are incompatible with the storage spaces feature and they must support SCSI Enclosure Services version 3, according to Microsoft's storages spaces FAQ.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.

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