Getting Started with Storage Spaces Direct

For our new blog series, we’ve invited our customers to share their real-world experiences from deploying Windows Server software-defined solutions.

This month our IT Hero is Shane Yoder from TMI Systems Corporation. Shane is the Information and Administrative Services Manager for TMI Systems Corporation, a world-class manufacturer of casework, architectural woodwork, and countertops. Shane has a Master’s in Business Administration along with nearly 20 years of experience managing information systems.

Read the TMI Systems Customer Story

Windows Server 2016 Storage Spaces Direct is a great way to get Hyper-V on a simple, but high-performing, server cluster. It is simpler than a SAN, cheaper than a SAN, and will perform better than a SAN, for many environments running Hyper-V.  I’ve been running a DataON S2D cluster for over six months and it has exceeded my expectations. Here are few thoughts and tips from my experience thus far for anyone new to Storage Spaces Direct.

  • Ask questions and research – Storage Spaces Direct is fairly new and has its own intricacies like any other technology. Talk to the experts at DataON to learn as much as you can about how these systems work and how it will work in your environment. Talk to other customers who have been running these systems to get their advice. Attend webinars and conferences to network with colleagues and get as much information as possible. There’s a lot of experienced people out there willing to share their knowledge, tap into it. Check out Microsoft’s blogs and docs about Storage Spaces Direct including this Microsoft overview page.
  • TEST! And when you’re done go test some more – A Hyper-V cluster on Storage Spaces Direct doesn’t work exactly like a Hyper-V cluster on a traditional SAN. Test the system as much as you can before you go into production. Test failures, updates and rebuilds. Test it all until you are absolutely comfortable with the system and know what to expect if an issue arises and how to respond.
  • Understand storage pools, volumes, and virtual disks – It’s confusing at first, but these Microsoft deep dives on volumes and pools help!
  • Plan for reserve capacity – I’ve heard that some people don’t plan for this in their environment or eliminate it because they’re crunched for space. Don’t do that. If you have reserve capacity in your storage pool, the volume will rebuild in-place if a drive fails. This will allow you more time to get the drive replaced. DataON will help you plan for this, but make sure you keep reserve capacity in your storage pool because it reduces your risk.
  • Maintenance – You need to ensure your virtual disks are healthy before you take a host offline for maintenance. The GUI will prevent it most of the time, but it doesn’t always refresh consistently. Use PowerShell to check the health of your virtual disks whenever doing maintenance. When a host comes out of maintenance, it will take some time for the volumes to re-sync. Wait for all virtual disks to be healthy before taking another host offline.
  • PowerShell – Storage Spaces Direct requires some PowerShell commands to get the information you need to manage the system. If you haven’t exposed yourself to PowerShell yet, see Microsoft’s documentation or take some of their free training to get up to speed. Also, make sure you are running the right command at the right time. If you’re new to PowerShell, these two commands give very similar looking results, but they are very different. The first command is giving you volume information and the second command is giving you virtual disk information. If you want to see if your virtual disks are healthy and ready for maintenance, use the second one.
    • Get-VirtualDisk | Get-Disk | Get-Partition | Get-Volume
    • Get-VirtualDisk
  • RDMA – There is some added complexity in using RDMA, but results from customers, Microsoft, and DataON show marked improvements in CPU utilization and latencies when it’s used. Strongly consider using RDMA.

I hope this helps you get started in your Storage Spaces Direct journey. If you have any questions, contact the experts at DataON!

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