Although it’s been available for a while now, Windows Server 2008’s storage changes aren’t widely reported. TechTarget’s Dave Raffo wrote a piece about it today, Windows Server 2008’s hidden storage features, including some quotes from me, but it’s still less than clear.
So let me sum up:
- Server Message Block (SMB) 2.0 is probably the biggest news. Microsoft re-worked this protocol for Vista and 2008 to reduce chattiness, combine multiple commands in a single packet, and allow larger packets. This should improve performance for just about everyone, but is only in those two operating systems right now.
- The excellent multi-path I/O (MPIO) driver from Microsoft is also included right out of the box, including device-specific modules for both iSCSI and Fibre Channel. This is the first version of Windows to come with MPIO, though it’s available with the iSCSI initiator and OEM drivers for other versions.
- As in Vista, Server 2008 allows you to shrink NTFS filesystems on the fly. It’s not quite as flexible or forgiving as some third-party tools, but it’s certainly easy to use! Just go into the disk administrator snap-in and try it for yourself.
- Windows finally has the option to leave new LUNs alone instead of trying to mount them. This was one of those things that gave Windows a rep as a bad neighbor in SAN environments.
- NTBackup is gone, replaced by a new Server Backup MMC snap-in. I haven’t tried it, but I hope it’s better than the one that comes in Vista! I ended up keeping NTBackup around on my laptop…
- A new MMC snap-in called Storage Explorer lets you manage WMI-compliant SAN devices.
- The Volume Shadow Copy Service (VSS) and DFS interfaces are improved and are now scriptable.
- Server 2008 now automatically aligns filesystem boundaries with storage, which was one of those dark and secret skills us storage guys used to share amongst ourselves. This can increase performance in high-I/O environments.
- NTFS (in both Server 2008 and Vista) now has symbolic link support, just like UNIX and Mac OS X. Note that this got mangled in the TechTarget article.
- NTFS was also tuned and tweaked a bit for better stability and crash recovery.