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How to configure Storage Tiers with Windows Server 2012 R2

Storage Spaces: How to configure Storage Tiers with Windows Server 2012 R2 | Ask Premier Field Engineering (PFE) Platforms

Storage Tiers allow for use of SSD and hard drive storage within the same storage pool as a new feature in Windows Server 2012 R2.  If you’ve not read Jose Barreto’s Step-by-step post on this subject already, it is a great source for links about Storage Tiers as well as a fantastic place to find examples of how to use PowerShell cmdlets to implement Storage Tiers with Storage Spaces.   In this episode, I’m going to show you how to implement Storage Tiers using mostly the UI.

If you’re not familiar with Storage Tiers, the idea is to be able to mix Solid State Disk (SSD) storage with conventional disks (HDD).  However, Storage Tiers provides the ability to store more frequently accessed data on SSD media…with both types of media used as block based storage for the same virtual disk: the best of both types of storage.   That’s a pretty high level summary…and a pretty awesome concept.  Previously, in my basement lab I had two different pools:  one for each type of storage.

If implementing tiers using PowerShell, some calculations may be required…and it looks a bit complicated if you’re just attempting to try out.   Granted, below are quite a few screen shots and this is a lengthy post.  However, the process using the UI is fairly easy.   I made one diversion into PowerShell to show how to define MediaTypes for storage devices if they’re not detected automatically.  The technique I use for that is very similar to Jose’s example but is another variation to show that you’re not limited to just one technique.

If you’ve read my recent post about expanding a storage pool, you may have a better understanding of how Storage Spaces uses columns.  Using the UI to configure Storage Tiers will attempt to use the defaults for the number of columns.  Using some quick and easy PowerShell during the creation process, you may change the column defaults for a specific storage pool.

Remember: If you have difficulty reading any of the screenshots below, you can obtain a full size image by clicking on them.

Creating Tiered Storage

1. The first step involves attaching the devices you intend to use.  You must have at least one SSD and one physical drive attached.   For this example, I chose 4 SSD devices, and 9 1 TB drives.   This is indeed an odd arrangement but I’ve chosen it with a purpose: to show the layout of a defined virtual disk, and to show that Storage Spaces will use what it can from this arrangement and leave remaining space for other uses.   In this example, I’ve connected the devices and can see them within Server Manager.

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