Microsoft Storage Spaces feature used to handle data redundancy, scalability and performance. Storage Spaces takes a set of Just a Bunch of Disks (JBOD) and pairs them together to allow for; either failures of a disk, gaining the performance of multiple spindles, or gaining the space of multiple disks. Traditionally this has all been handled by creating a Redundant Array of Independent Disks (RAID) group. Some examples of RAID would be:
- Striping (RAID 0)
- Mirroring (RAID 1)
- Parity (RAID 5 or 6)
Storage Spaces create a similar type of RAID Group but then throw a virtual disk on top of them so that multiple types of stripes can be used on the same disks. For example, three physical disks can be put into a storage space. From there, three separate types of VDISKs can be created, Mirrored, Spanned and Parity can then be placed on the same set of disks with no issue. The diagram below shows an example.
Setting Up Storage Spaces
Setting up Storage Spaces in Server 2012 is fairly simple. Here, we have a system drive already in use, but there are also three additional unused drives attached to the server.
Make sure the File Server Role is installed on the server. Then use the Server Manager to create a “Storage Pool” from the tasks drop down menu.
Select the physical disks that will be used for the pool. Notice that you can use them as hot spares if needed. A hot spare would be useful if a failure occurred because it will automatically rebuild the data from the failed disk.
Confirm your selections and click Finish.
Create a VDISK
From the Server Manager, go to the task section of the VDISKs and choose new VDISK. From there the VDISK wizard will open. Choose which storage pool this VDISK should be built on.
Give the VDISK a Name.
Pick the storage layout. Here is where we can choose Mirrored, Simple or Parity. A description of the layout types are listed next to the type if you’re unsure.
Pick a provisioning type. Thin only allocates space as needed allowing you to over provision your storage. Fixed is synonymous with Thick provisioning.
What is the size of the VDISK? The storage pool will only have a certain amount of space available to be used. You can create a subset of this total space.
Wait for the VDISK to be created.
Once the VDISKS have been created, they still need to be formatted as either NTFS or ReFS, given a drive letter etc, just like a normal volume would be created. You’re allowed to start the volume setup wizard automatically when you’re done creating the VDISK.
Once you’re done, check Disk Management again. You’ll now see the VDISKs listed as though they are physical disks. I’ve added a screenshot of my server that demonstrates Spanned, Mirrored, and Parity Disks are all available on the Storage Spaces and are using different file systems.
I’m not saying that getting rid of your RAID Controllers is the thing to do, but Microsoft has added a pretty nice new feature into their OS to make your data more resilient. Check them out if you have time.