Tag Archives: Spaces

Storage Spaces Direct Hardware Requirements and Azure Stack HCI

This article will run down the hardware requirements for Storage Spaces Direct. Since Storage Spaces found its way into Windows Server with Windows Server 2012, much has changed for Microsoft Strategies regarding supported hardware.

Read More About Storage Spaces Direct

What is Storage Spaces Direct?

S2D Technologies in Focus

3 Important Things You Should Know About Storage Spaces Direct

In the first attempt, Microsoft gave customers a wide range of options to design the hardware part of the solution themselves. While this enabled customers to build a Storage Spaces Cluster out of scrap or desktop equipment, to be honest, we ended up with many non-functional clusters during that period.

After that phase and with the release of Windows Server 2016, Microsoft Decided to only support validated system configurations from ODMs or OEMs and no longer support self-built systems. For good reason!

Storage Spaces Direct Hardware Requirements

Let’s get into the specific hardware requirements

First off, every driver, device or component used for Storage Spaces Direct needs to be “Software-Defined Datacenter” compatible and also be supported for Windows Server 2016 by Microsoft.

Storage Spaces Direct Compatibility

Source: https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/windows-server/storage/storage-spaces/storage-spaces-direct-hardware-requirements

Servers

  • Minimum of 2 servers, maximum of 16 servers
  • Recommended that all servers be the same manufacturer and model

CPU

  • Intel Nehalem or later compatible processor; or
  • AMD EPYC or later compatible processor

Memory

  • Memory for Windows Server, VMs, and other apps or workloads; plus
  • 4 GB of RAM per terabyte (TB) of cache drive capacity on each server, for Storage Spaces Direct metadata

Boot

  • Any boot device supported by Windows Server, which now includes SATADOM
  • RAID 1 mirror is not required, but is supported for boot
  • Recommended: 200 GB minimum size

Networking

Minimum (for small scale 2-3 node)

  • 10 Gbps network interface
  • Direct-connect (switchless) is supported with 2-nodes

Recommended (for high performance, at scale, or deployments of 4+ nodes)

  • NICs that are remote-direct memory access (RDMA) capable, iWARP (recommended) or RoCE
  • Two or more NICs for redundancy and performance
  • 25 Gbps network interface or higher

Drives

Storage Spaces Direct works with direct-attached SATA, SAS, or NVMe drives that are physically attached to just one server each. For more help choosing drives, see the Choosing drives topic.

Source: https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/windows-server/storage/storage-spaces/storage-spaces-direct-hardware-requirements

You can find more hardware information at Microsoft Docs. You can also get more details about supported disk configurations etc. at that site.

Azure Stack HCI (Hyper-Converged Infrastructure)

To make it easier for the customer to choose when it comes to vendors and systems, Microsoft now combines supported Storage Spaces and Hyperconverged Systems under the label Azure Stack HCI. Despite the name Azure in the label, you will not need to buy a full-blown Azure Stack deployment in order to have Storage Spaces. However, with Windows Server 2019, Microsoft has made it much easier to find supported appliances for Storage Spaces and Hyperconverged deployments with that label.

When following Microsoft’s guidance, Azure Stack HCI is the starting point for the next generation Software-Defined Datacenter, where Azure (the public cloud) is at the end of the road.

Azure Stack HCI

Source: https://azure.microsoft.com/mediahandler/files/resourcefiles/azure-stack-hybrid-cloud-your-way-datasheet/Azure%20Stack%20hybrid%20cloud%20your%20way.pdf

To make it easier to find the right vendor and system for you, Microsoft has published the Azure Stack HCI catalog.

Here you can filter effectively and search for your organization’s requirements. This tool makes it super easy to see which vendor can offer hardware you may be targeting.

For example, I was looking for a system with the following requirements for a customer branch office:

  • Regional available in Europe
  • 2-Node Optimized
  • RDMA RoCE

As you can see in the screenshot, I got a result of 14 possible systems. Now I can contact the vendors for additional information and sizing.

Azure Stack HCI Catalog

When it comes to sizing, you should work together with your hardware vendor to get the best possible configuration. Disk sizes, types, etc. are still different from vendor to vendor and system to system.

To help you to validate the configurations or have some kind of the first idea what you need, Microsoft published a guide in their documentation named Planning volumes in Storage Spaces Direct. Additionally, one of the Program Managers for S2D, Cosmos Darwin, has published a small calculator as well.

Wrap Up

This blog post will give you a better idea of what kind of hardware you’ll need to get your hands on if you want to use S2D. This post is a critical part of putting together a successful S2D deployment. In the next part of this series on Storage Spaces Direct, we will focus more on architecture with S2D and also on the competitors on the market.

Thanks for reading!

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Author: Florian Klaffenbach

Watch Communications and Microsoft announce partnership to bring broadband internet to Indiana, Ohio and Illinois – Stories

Deployment of technologies, including TV white spaces, is expected to cover more than four million people in the region, including 815,000 people in rural areas currently without access to broadband

REDMOND, Wash. — July 9, 2019 — On Tuesday, Watch Communications and Microsoft Corp. announced an agreement aimed at closing the broadband gap, and the rural digital divide in particular, in the states of Indiana, Ohio and Illinois. The partnership is part of the Microsoft Airband Initiative, which is focused on extending broadband access to three million people in rural America by July 2022.

The FCC reports that more than 21 million Americans lack broadband access. According to Microsoft data, 162 million people across the United States are not using the internet at broadband speeds, including approximately 17 million people in Indiana, Ohio and Illinois. Watch Communications will deploy a variety of broadband connectivity technologies to bring these areas under coverage, with an emphasis on wireless technologies leveraging TV white spaces (e.g., unused TV frequencies) in lower population density or terrain-challenged areas to achieve improved coverage. The areas expected to benefit include 50 counties in Indiana, 22 counties in Illinois, and most counties in Ohio.

“Every person deserves the same opportunity. But too often and in too many places, these opportunities are limited by where people live and their access to reliable and affordable broadband access,” said Shelley McKinley, general manager, Technology and Corporate Responsibility, Microsoft. “Microsoft is working across the country to close this gap. We’re partnering with Watch Communications to improve broadband access in Indiana, Illinois and Ohio and build on the incredible work being done by state and local leaders on this issue on behalf of their citizens.”

“Public-private partnerships, collaboration and understanding local initiatives are key to enabling connectivity success. Providing rural broadband can be difficult, so working as a team to solve the digital divide requires partners. We are excited to partner with Microsoft on this initiative,” said Greg Jarman, chief operating officer, Watch Communications.

Improved connectivity will bolster economic, educational and telehealth opportunities for everyone in the region, and could be particularly impactful for this region’s farmers. Together, Indiana, Illinois and Ohio account for more than $38.5 billion in agricultural value, with all three ranking in the top 16 states by agricultural output, according to the USDA. With broadband access, farmers can take advantage of advanced technologies such as precision agriculture which can help better monitor crops and increase yields.

In addition, Watch Communications and Microsoft will work together to ensure that once connectivity is available, people know how to use it and can get the training needed to fully participate in the digital economy, access educational opportunities and access telemedicine.

***

State by State View

Indiana

This is Microsoft’s first Airband Initiative deployment in Indiana. The need for improved connectivity is acute — the FCC broadband mapping report shows that more than 673,000 people in Indiana do not have access to broadband, and Microsoft data suggests that more than 4.3 million people are not using the internet at broadband speeds in the state. The partnership between Watch Communications and Microsoft is expected to cover more than 1 million Hoosiers, more than 440,000 of whom are people in rural areas that are currently unserved.

Watch Communications was a recent award winner of funds from the FCC to extend broadband services in Indiana. As a result, Watch Communications has been working with Indiana counties to develop the deployment approach that best meets the needs of the local communities. In addition to broadband, Watch Communications has been working to use its network to design an IoT network to serve Indiana businesses.

This also builds on Microsoft’s presence in Indiana. Last October, Microsoft and the Markle Foundation announced the launch of Skillful Indiana, focused on bringing investment, training, tools, and innovative methods to support workforce development in the state. In addition, the Hope FFA chapter in Indiana was recently awarded Microsoft FarmBeats Student Kits, which will help FFA students develop essential digital skills for precision agriculture and IoT technologies.

Ohio

Watch Communications was a recent award winner of funds from the FCC to extend broadband services in Ohio. As a result, Watch Communications has been working with Ohio counties to develop the deployment approach that best meets the needs of the local communities.

“You can’t be a part of the modern economy or education system without access to high-speed internet, and we are taking steps in Ohio to extend broadband to those who are underserved across the state,” said Lt. Governor Jon Husted. “Thank you to Microsoft for being among the leaders on this and for being willing to consider innovative solutions to help extend opportunity to people in Ohio who need it.”

This is Microsoft’s second Airband Initiative deployment in Ohio, following an August 2018 agreement between Microsoft and Agile Networks. The need for improved connectivity is acute — the FCC broadband mapping report shows that more than 621,000 people in Ohio do not have access to broadband, while Microsoft data suggests that more than 6.9 million people are not using the internet at broadband speeds in the state. The partnership between Watch Communications and Microsoft is expected to cover approximately 2.5 million people, more than 288,000 of whom are people in rural areas that are currently unserved.

This also builds on Microsoft’s presence in Ohio. Microsoft’s TEALS program is helping to deliver computer science education to Ohio students. In addition, the Arcadia FFA chapter and Triad-OHP FFA chapter in Ohio were recently awarded Microsoft FarmBeats Student Kits, which will help FFA students develop essential digital skills for precision agriculture and IoT technologies.

Illinois

This is Microsoft’s second Airband Initiative deployment in Illinois, the first being a September 2018 agreement between Microsoft and Network Business Systems to bring broadband internet to people in Illinois, Iowa and South Dakota. The need for improved connectivity is acute — the FCC broadband mapping report shows that more than 680,000 people in Illinois do not have access to broadband, while Microsoft data suggests that more than 6.6 million people are not using the internet at broadband speeds in the state. The partnership between Watch Communications and Microsoft is expected to cover more than 275,000 people, more than 80,000 of whom are people in rural areas that are currently unserved.

About Watch Communications

Founded in 1992, Watch Communications is an Internet Service Provider (ISP) using a combination of fixed wireless and fiber technologies to serve residential and business customers throughout Ohio, Indiana and Illinois. Watch Communications began as a wireless cable TV provider and expanded service offerings in 1998 to include Internet. Since its creation, Watch Communications has focused on unserved and underserved small and rural markets.

About Microsoft

Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT” @microsoft) enables digital transformation for the era of an intelligent cloud and an intelligent edge. Its mission is to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more.

For more information, press only:

Microsoft Media Relations, WE Communications for Microsoft, (425) 638-7777, [email protected]

Lindsey Gardner, Watch Communications Media Requests, (419) 999-2824, [email protected]

Note to editors: For more information, news and perspectives from Microsoft, please visit the Microsoft News Center at http://news.microsoft.com. Web links, telephone numbers and titles were correct at time of publication, but may have changed. For additional assistance, journalists and analysts may contact Microsoft’s Rapid Response Team or other appropriate contacts listed at http://news.microsoft.com/microsoft-public-relations-contacts.

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Author: Microsoft News Center

RTO Wireless and Microsoft announce agreement to deliver broadband internet to rural communities in New York and Maine

TV white spaces and other new technologies will provide affordable, reliable broadband access to approximately 290,000 people

REDMOND, Wash. — July 24, 2018 — On Tuesday, RTO Wireless and Microsoft Corp. announced a new agreement to provide broadband internet access to more than 290,000 people living in unserved rural regions of New York and Maine. The partnership is part of the Microsoft Airband Initiative, which aims to extend broadband access to 2 million people in unserved portions of rural America by July 4, 2022.

Currently, 19.4 million people living in rural areas in the United States lack access to a broadband internet connection. RTO Wireless will use innovative techniques and technologies, including TV white spaces and Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS), to deliver fixed and mobile wireless services to rural markets within the U.S., with initial rollouts across 16 counties in Maine and 20 counties in New York.

“Without reliable internet access, many people living in rural America are unable to take advantage of the same opportunities as their urban neighbors,” said Shelley McKinley, Microsoft’s head of Technology and Corporate Responsibility. “We are excited to partner with RTO Wireless to bring broadband to students, farmers, educators and business owners across the Southern Tier and North Country of New York and Western Maine so that they have an equal opportunity to learn, grow, contribute and prosper in the 21st century economy.”

“The TV white spaces technology ecosystem championed by Microsoft provides a critical low-band function enabling tremendous RF propagation over a large service area,” said Steve Hubbard, CEO of RTO Wireless. “Microsoft is contributing tremendous resources to solving the lack of broadband options in rural America. Joining the Microsoft Airband Initiative will enable RTO to enhance the educational, healthcare and agricultural services that can be provided to the rural communities. RTO is proud to launch its initial networks in New York and Maine with an impressive consortium of technology partners to deliver exciting applications and services.”

This partnership between Microsoft and RTO Wireless will complement the already established and successful “broadband for all” initiative in New York. In 2015, Governor Andrew Cuomo and the state legislature established the $500 million New NY Broadband Program, the nation’s largest and most ambitious state investment in broadband expansion. Three rounds of grants using a reverse-auction method have expended this $500 million and provided support to projects that deliver high-speed internet access to unserved and underserved areas of the state.

Leaders in New York have offered strong support for closing the rural broadband gap in the U.S.:

U.S. Rep. Tom Reed, District 23, said, “We care about the promotion of rural broadband, and this announcement will allow more hardworking people in our region to access the digital economy and quality, family-sustaining jobs. We will continue our work in Washington to promote broadband infrastructure through funding and fair regulation.”

U.S. Rep. Chris Collins, District 27,  said, “New York’s 27th Congressional District is 65 percent underserved by broadband technologies, and it is welcome news that RTO Wireless and Microsoft are taking action to expand service in five of the counties I represent. As a member of the Energy and Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Communications and Technology, I’ve been able to work on policies that will help bring more broadband to rural America. We still have a long way to go in making sure all of Western New York has reliable access to broadband, but I commend Microsoft for its investment in our area that will benefit thousands of my constituents.”

U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik, District 21, said, “This is excellent news, and I applaud Microsoft and RTO Wireless for working to bring broadband to our district. Increasing access to broadband is critical to ensuring our businesses can compete, our economy can grow and our children have access to the best educational resources. At the federal level, I am pleased to be a leader on expanding access to rural broadband and will continue to work to ensure the North Country has access to this critical 21st century infrastructure.”

U.S. Rep. Claudia Tenney, District 22, said, “Broadband internet access unlocks pathways to better education, business growth, health and so much more. Microsoft and RTO Wireless’ new agreement to bring broadband to underserved rural regions of New York, including to people in the 22nd District, ensures our community can take advantage of the opportunities offered by today’s digital economy.”

The Microsoft Airband Initiative is focused on bringing broadband coverage to rural Americans through commercial partnerships and investment in digital skills training for people in the newly connected communities. Proceeds from Airband connectivity projects will be reinvested into the program to expand broadband to more rural areas.

About RTO Wireless

RTO Wireless is a “Rural Technology Operator” who has solved a unique set of operational and economical constraints plaguing rural broadband & narrowband connectivity, by incorporating the latest wireless connectivity technologies across TV White Space, CBRS, LoRaWAN and traditional spectrum bands. RTO is founded by executives with vast experience building and operating neutral host and wholesale wireless affiliate & roaming networks for top tier mobile operators. In 2018, RTO’s financial commitments to new wireless infrastructure construction has exceeded $150,000,000. RTO is building wireless infrastructure for rural communities to access fixed broadband services and IoT applications, including middle mile backhaul connections to serve education, healthcare, public safety, utilities, asset tracking, precision agriculture, connected vehicles, and environmental applications. RTO’s neutral host rural networks enable dynamic partnerships with IoT ASPs, wireless carriers and wireline/cable operators in need of higher capacity rural network footprint. More information can be found at www.rtowireless.com.

About Microsoft

Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT” @microsoft) enables digital transformation for the era of an intelligent cloud and an intelligent edge. Its mission is to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more.

For more information, press only:

Microsoft Media Relations, WE Communications for Microsoft, (425) 638-7777,

[email protected]

RTO Wireless Media Requests: Please submit requests through the RTO website: www.rtowireless.com

Note to editors: For more information, news and perspectives from Microsoft, please visit the Microsoft News Center at http://news.microsoft.com. Web links, telephone numbers and titles were correct at time of publication, but may have changed. For additional assistance, journalists and analysts may contact Microsoft’s Rapid Response Team or other appropriate contacts listed at http://news.microsoft.com/microsoft-public-relations-contacts.

Logitech video conferencing kit targets large meeting rooms

Logitech has released a package of video conferencing hardware designed for large meeting spaces and boardrooms. The vendor also previewed a free software patch that will soon give its cameras the ability to frame participants in a meeting automatically.

Logitech Rally is the vendor’s first concerted effort to get its hardware into large conference rooms. The bundle includes a camera, speakers, microphones and control hubs — all new pieces of hardware that Logitech will sell individually.

The Logitech video conferencing kit appears to offer advanced features at an attractive price, said Rob Arnold, an analyst at Frost & Sullivan. Logitech will compete with Cisco and Polycom in the large meeting room market, he said.

“Logitech is finding great success with its video conferencing products, and it makes perfect sense for the company to expand its addressed market,” Arnold said. “Rally’s introduction is part of a natural evolution to fill out Logitech’s product line at the top end of its portfolio.”

Logitech video conferencing kit offers flexibility, affordability

The Logitech Rally USB-connected camera — available now — pans, tilts, zooms and shoots in 4K and 1080p. The microphones and speakers, which will go on sale in the fall of 2018, are separate pieces of hardware, so companies can place the former on a table and install the latter near a video monitor.

The standard Logitech Rally bundles will include one speaker and one microphone, for $1,999, or two speakers and two microphones, for $2,499. Customers will be able to purchase additional microphones for $349 each and piece together up to seven per room. Each microphone covers roughly 150 square feet.

The Logitech video conferencing kit integrates with most web conferencing software, including Microsoft Skype for Business, Microsoft Teams, Zoom, BlueJeans and Google Hangouts Meet. It can also be used in conjunction with digital whiteboards, such as the Microsoft Surface Hub.

Logitech Rally includes the advanced features required in larger conference rooms at a competitive price, said Ira Weinstein, managing partner of Recon Research Inc., based in Coral Springs, Fla. Logitech is also one of the only vendors to package all the necessary audio and video components for larger rooms into one offering, he said.

“Logitech has been battling — and successfully battling — to step up to the next level,” Weinstein said. “They don’t want to be known as the low-cost provider. They want to be known as the performance and value provider.”

Logitech expands its role in software

Logitech plans to release a free software update in the second half of 2018 that will enable some of its newer camera models to identify and frame human figures in a meeting room automatically. The feature will work with Logitech’s Rally, MeetUp and BRIO cameras.

Logitech RightSight adjusts the camera based on how many people are in the room and where they are sitting. If someone on the right side of the table leaves, the camera will pan left. If all but one person leave, the camera will zoom.

Logitech previously released software to enable its cameras to adjust lighting and correct color automatically and to help its microphones suppress background noise and focus on the current speaker.

“When you combine good software engineering with the ability to put out high-performance products at a good price point, that’s a win,” Weinstein said. “They don’t talk about themselves as a software play, but I see them that way.”

Configure Windows Storage Spaces to serve up hot data fast

One way is through Windows Storage Spaces, the storage virtualization feature available in Windows Server 2012 and onward. Storage Spaces pools available storage resources and shifts more frequently used data onto flash media through its tiered storage functionality.

Files that are often accessed, changed, read and written to could be stored on solid-state media, while old data and archives in less demand are fine on slower, less expensive hard disk media. This arrangement significantly expands the capacity of a storage pool at a more manageable cost without sacrificing performance. Administrators have the option to set up simple spaces with no resiliency or mirrored spaces — two or more copies of data that are stored separately — for fault tolerance in the pool, similar to RAID, to avoid data loss. Technically, Windows Storage Spaces works with as little as one solid-state drive (SSD) and one hard disk drive (HDD), but shops typically need more storage than that.

With Windows Storage Spaces and a full disk enclosure, it just takes a few PowerShell commands to set up the hot fast drives and cold slow drives, then make the pool available to the network.

How to set up Windows Storage Spaces

First, create the storage pool with this PowerShell script:

$s = Get-StorageSubSystem

New-StoragePool -StorageSubSystemId $s.UniqueId -FriendlyName StorageSpacesPool -PhysicalDisks (Get-PhysicalDisk -CanPool $true)

Change the assigned media type — SSD or HDD — to the disks that make up the pool in the following PowerShell commands.

Get-StoragePool StorageSpacesPool | Get-PhysicalDisk | {some criteria, maybe size, to identify your SSDs} | Set-PhysicalDisk –MediaType SSD

Get-StoragePool StorageSpacesPool | Get-PhysicalDisk | {criteria to pick out your HDDs} | Set-PhysicalDisk –MediaType HDD

After the assignments, double-check the disk configuration:

Get-StoragePool StorageSpacesPool | Get-PhysicalDisk | Sort MediaType | Format-Table FriendlyName, Size, MediaType, HealthStatus, OperationalStatus -AutoSize

Next, set up the tiers:

Get-StoragePool StorageSpacesPool | New-StorageTier –FriendlyName HotHot –MediaType SSD

Get-StoragePool StorageSpacesPool | New-StorageTier –FriendlyName ColdCold –MediaType HDD

Finally, set up the resiliency, simple spaces and mirrored spaces features:

Get-StoragePool StorageSpacesPool | Set-ResiliencySetting -Name Simple -NumberOfColumnsDefault 4

Get-StoragePool StorageSpacesPool | Set-ResiliencySetting -Name Mirror -NumberOfColumnsDefault 2

$SSD = Get-StorageTier -FriendlyName HotHot

$HDD = Get-StorageTier -FriendlyName ColdCold

Get-StoragePool StorageSpacesPool | New-VirtualDisk -FriendlyName SimpleSpace -ResiliencySettingName Simple –StorageTiers $SSD, $HDD -StorageTierSizes 32GB, 128GB -WriteCacheSize 1GB

Get-StoragePool StorageSpacesPool | New-VirtualDisk -FriendlyName MirroredSpace -ResiliencySettingName Mirror -StorageTiers $SSD, $HDD -StorageTierSizes 32GB, 128GB –WriteCacheSize 1GB

There are some caveats. The host OS must run Windows Storage Spaces on a physical machine. Also, Microsoft will not support a just a bunch of disks (JBOD) enclosure that is not listed as compatible with Storage Spaces on the Windows Server Catalog site. A storage pool on an unsupported JBOD enclosure will probably work, but if problems occur, Microsoft won’t work to resolve them.

Windows Storage Spaces vs. Storage Spaces Direct

While the names are similar, the two Storage Spaces features in Windows Server differ. Some in IT believe Storage Spaces Direct in Windows Server 2016 supersedes Storage Spaces. But that is not the case, and both features still exist.

Storage Spaces — and Clustered Storage Spaces — is available in Windows Server 2012 and onward. Windows Storage Spaces is essentially software RAID with logical volume pooling and built-in software fault tolerance.

Storage Spaces Direct is only available in the Datacenter edition of Windows Server 2016 and executes its functionality quite differently. It creates pools of different types of media logically addressed together and then deconstructed and reassigned on the fly — the epitome of software-defined storage.

Which should you use?

If you’re not on the Windows Server 2016 Datacenter edition, the choice is clear: Use Windows Storage Spaces.

For medium-sized shops, the price tag of Storage Spaces Direct — still substantially below the cost of a software-defined storage area network product — might still be too high.

Windows Storage Spaces offers the advantage of connecting standard commodity hardware, such as spinning disk drives and solid-state drives, with regular servers, which operate on less expensive Windows Server 2012 editions. Most shops either already use or are planning a migration to this server OS or later versions.