Microsoft is continuing its drip feed of information about Windows 8, with new details of how it will support pooling of disks into a single virtualised storage space, offering advanced features such as mirroring and thin provisioning of storage capacity.
These capabilities will come in a new technology called Storage Spaces, Microsoft said on its Building Windows 8 blog. This builds on the Windows NTFS file system to allow the creation of pooled storage and offers users greater flexibility in the way disk storage is organised.
Storage Spaces was first disclosed by Microsoft at its Build developer conference last September, where the company discussed it in connection with Windows Server 8, the upcoming next release of its server platform.
However, it now appears that these capabilities will also be supported in the client version of Windows 8, with Microsoft stating that Storage Spaces "delivers on diverse requirements that can span deployments ranging from a single PC in the home, up to a very large-scale enterprise data centre."
Storage Spaces allows multiple disks to be organised into storage pools in a similar manner to the way Raid storage arrays operate. Unlike Raid, Storage Spaces will support pools made from disks that differ in size and users can expand the pool simply by adding another disk.
From such a storage pool, users can create virtual disks known as spaces, which can be any arbitrary size, even a larger capacity than the available disk space, thanks to thin provisioning support.
Resiliency is also provided in Storage Spaces by a mirroring option, which ensures that any data within a particular space is duplicated onto different physical disks, to guard against data loss if one disk within a pool should fail.
There are no architectural limits to the number of disks making up a pool, according to Microsoft, which said it has tested pools made up of hundreds of disks. In practice, though, users will be limited by the number of physical controller ports available to connect drives to their PC.
Microsoft added that the upcoming beta of Windows 8 will include a GUI tool to configure pools and spaces. The public beta release is expected to be available during February.
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