Part 2 in my Windows Server 2012 series covers the new storage-related features: SMB 3.0, Microsoft Online Backup, Storage Spaces, Resilient File System (ReFS), BranchCache, Storage Management API (SMAPI), and File Server Resource Manager.
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Storage in Windows Server 2012 has been greatly enhanced. Most noteworthy is SMB 3.0 which lifts file sharing to a new level.

SMB 3.0

The Server Message Block protocol that is used for file sharing in LANs will get a major overhaul: SMB for Server Applications (for instance, SQL Server or Hyper-V can store data on file shares), SMB Scale-Out (scale share bandwidth in clusters), SMB Direct (direct memory-to-memory data transfers between servers), SMB Multichannel (multiple network interfaces support), SMB Transparent Failover (failover of file server cluster nodes are transparent to applications), VSS for SMB file shares (Windows Volume Shadow Copy support for SMB), SMB encryption, and SMB Directory Leasing (reduces the latency over WAN).

Microsoft Online Backup

Microsoft’s cloud backup solution is still in beta and is only available in Windows Server 2012. It remains to be seen if the RTM will also support other Windows Server versions. Microsoft Online Backup can only back up files and does not support backups of server applications such as Exchange or SharePoint.

Windows Server 2012 - Microsoft Online Backup

Windows Server 2012 - Microsoft Online Backup

Microsoft Online Backup Service

Storages Spaces / Storage Pools

I already described Storage Spaces in my Windows 8 feature list article: Storages Spaces allow you to combine multiple disks into one storage pool. The new technology is comparable to RAID, but it is more flexible and easier to configure. Probably the coolest thing is that disks can be of different size and connected through USB, SATA, and SAS (Serial Attached SCSI). Storage pools support thin provisioning (physical space is only used when the capacity is needed) and resiliency (mirroring for fault tolerance).

Windows Server 2012 - Storage Spaces - Storage Pools

Windows Server 2012 - Storage Spaces - Storage Pools

Resilient File System (ReFS)

Tim Warner blogged about Microsoft’s new file system ReFS on 4sysops. ReFS improves reliability and scalability and is backward compatible with NTFS.

Windows Server 2012 - Resilient File System (ReFS)

Windows Server 2012 - Resilient File System (ReFS)


BranchCache in Windows Server 2012 comes with quite a few enhancements, most of which improve scalability. Highlights are the ability to deploy BranchCache to multiple servers and the use of the Extensible Storage Engine (ESE) database technology that powers Exchange. Manageability has been improved as well. Most noteworthy is that office-by-office configuration is no longer required, automatic client configuration, and you can now push content to branch offices.

Windows Server 2012 - BranchCache

Windows Server 2012 - BranchCache

Storage Management API (SMAPI)

Storage Management API (SMAPI) is a new WMI-based API for managing direct attached storage and external storage arrays. SMAPI supports SMI-S (Storage Management Initiative –Specification) and SMP (Storage Management Provider). The Windows Server 2012 Storage Management Service feature allows you to discover and manage SMI-S storage devices without installing additional software.

File Server Resource Manager

Resource Manager now supports the new Dynamic Access Control (which I will cover in another post). Users can classify files and folders manually without the need to create automatic classification rules, and you can customize the “access denied” error message that is displayed when a user running Windows 8 does not have access to a file or folder on a file server.

Windows Server 2012 - File Server Resource Manager

Windows Server 2012 - File Server Resource Manager

Please let me know if I forgot a storage related feature in Windows Server 2012. In my next post I will discuss Windows Server 2012 security features.


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