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Microsoft Highlights Storage Migration Service in Latest Windows Server Preview

Microsoft on Tuesday announced a new channel-release preview of Windows Server build 17639, highlighting two new features.

Windows Server build 17639 gets delivered to Windows Insider Program participants, who provide testing feedback to Microsoft before product finalization. The build essentially is the same thing as the coming Windows Server 2019 product, except that this version of Windows Server will be subscription based and will get more frequent feature updates via Microsoft's "channel" update model.

That said, Microsoft today described two new capabilities in Windows Server build 17639 beyond what was described last month. One new capability is called the "Storage Migration Service," which also will be in Windows Server 2019. It's a new server role coming to both Windows Server Standard and Datacenter editions. The other new capability described concerns improvements to the Storage Replica feature.

Storage Migration Service
The Storage Migration Service is described as a "job-based orchestration and proxy" tool. It will allow IT pros to inventory their servers and migrate the settings over to a new server deployment target, while decommissioning the old server. The Storage Migration Service permits the following actions, per Microsoft's announcement:

  • Allows administrators to inventory existing servers for their data, security, and network settings
  • Migrates that data, security, and network settings to a new, modern target by using the SMB protocol
  • Takes over the identity of the old server completely, while decommissioning the original source, in such a way that users and applications are unaffected and unaware that migration has taken place

The Storage Migration Service works with Project Honolulu, Microsoft's browser-based replacement for Server Management Tools. This combination will permit "scalable migrations of many servers simultaneously to new targets running on premises or in Azure," Microsoft indicated.

Microsoft is still developing both tools. Project Honolulu is still at the preview stage. However, Microsoft suggested that it will be able to quickly respond to user feedback.

"The use of the Honolulu management system enables out-of-band changes through its extension manager system, allowing us to act on your feedback more frequently than the Windows Server preview mechanism allows," the announcement explained.

Storage Replica Improvements
Storage Replica in Windows Server 2019 will be available in the Standard edition -- not just in the Datacenter edition, Microsoft announced today. Storage Replica is a disaster recovery feature that lets IT pros copy volumes between servers or clusters. The feature has been around since the Windows Server 2016 Datacenter edition, but it'll be a Standard offering, too, in Microsoft's next-generation product.

When Storage Replica is used with the Standard edition of Windows Server 2019, it'll have a few limitations. It can just replicate a single volume (up to 2TB) and it only can "have one partnership," Microsoft indicated.

Microsoft is also promising better throughput and latency when using the updated Storage Replica feature because of improvements made to Storage Replica's "log system." However, the performance improvements only will be seen if all servers are upgraded to Windows Server 2019.

The improved Storage Replica feature will permit easier failover testing through the mounting of a "writable snapshot," which doesn't overwrite the server's data. When done with the testing, the snapshot can get thrown away.

Possibly, some or all of the Storage Replica improvements will arrive a little later than today's test build release. Microsoft's announcement stated that "this change is coming in a preview soon after Windows Server 2019, build 17639," presumably referring to the whole Storage Replica feature.

About the Author

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

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