This post is a follow on from the last where I outlined my top 10 likes for the new Windows Server 2012 operating system; in that post I somehow forgot to mention the Storage Spaces feature – which in my opinion is a real step forward and should be well received by consumers and storage administrators.
Storage Spaces is a new storage virtualisation feature that has been introduced into Windows 8 and Server 2012 that will enable you to use standard commodity disk drives in a fashion similar to traditional RAID configurations in larger more expensive solutions.
With Storage Spaces you can virtualise storage by grouping disks into one or more containers known as storage pools. You can then create virtual disks from available capacity in a storage pool without the need to manage each physical disk individually. When you run low on the available capacity in the pool, simply add more disks.
Virtual disks can also use thin provisioning, which means that pool capacity is used by a virtual disk only according to the size of the files on the virtual disk, not the size of the virtual disk that you create.
You can use storage pools with the included Storage Spaces subsystem. Storage Spaces enables you to group cost-effective, industry-standard disks into storage pools for resilient storage with high or continuous availability. You can then create storage spaces (virtual disks created on the Storage Spaces subsystem) from available capacity in a storage pool.
To save the large write-up in this post; I found a really good article from the Windows Engineering team that goes into a lot more detail with a tone of dialog, questions and comments from customers who attended the BUILD conference last year when the feature was being demonstrated. This article specifically talks about the feature in the Windows 8 Client O.S but can be related to how the subsystem works in the Server O.S also.