Microsoft's Windows 8 will include Storage Spaces, a feature that "pools" multiple physical disks and leverages virtualization, in the name of efficient data storage.
Microsoft's Windows 8 will offer a new feature,
Storage Spaces, designed to both protect data and organize physical drives for
In a Jan. 5 posting on the "Building Windows 8" blog, Rajeev Nagar, a group
program manager on the Windows Storage and File System team, broke down the two
overarching themes behind Storage Spaces: one, the ability to organize multiple
physical disks into storage pools, and two, the use of virtual disks (which he
refers to as "spaces").
A Windows 8 user will need only one
physical disk to create a storage pool, although that will prevent the creation
of mirrored or parity spaces capable of data redundancy in the event of some
catastrophic failure. According to Nagar, there is "no requirement for an even
or odd number of physical disks."
Those physical disks can be connected
through USB, SATA (Serial ATA) or SAS (Serial Attached SCSI), he added.
"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
datacenter," he wrote. "Once physical disks have been added to a pool, they are
no longer directly usable by the rest of Windows-they have been virtualized,
that is, dedicated to the pool in their entirety."
Thanks to something called thin
provisioning, raw storage capacity translates into a much larger mirrored
space-in the blog's example, some 4TB of raw physical space transforms into
10TB of capacity once it's been added to the pool. "Thin provisioning ensures
that actual capacity is reserved for the space only when you decide to use it,"
he wrote. "Previously allocated physical capacity can be reclaimed safely
whenever files are deleted, or whenever an application decides that such
capacity is no longer needed."
Should a pool disk fail, Storage Space
can reallocate data. "There's another resiliency attribute, called parity," he added, "which directs
Storage Spaces to store some redundancy information alongside user data
contained within the space, thereby enabling automatic data reconstruction in
the event of physical disk failure."
Microsoft is unveiling a flurry of
Windows 8 features in the ramp-up to the operating system's release sometime in
the latter half of 2012. In a separate posting on the blog this week, for
example, the Windows team also detailed Windows 8's streamlined ability to
reset or refresh a PC experiencing issues. Resetting a Windows 8 PC will,
obviously, wipe out all the user's personal data while reinstalling the
operating system; refreshing it, on the other hand, will preserve all that
personal data, along with key settings and any "Metro"-style apps.
Microsoft will almost certainly offer
additional Windows 8 glimpses during the Consumer Electronics Show in Las
Vegas, which is slated to kick off with a Jan. 9 keynote speech by CEO Steve
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Nicholas Kolakowski is a staff editor at eWEEK, covering Microsoft and other companies in the enterprise space, as well as evolving technology such as tablet PCs. His work has appeared in The Washington Post, Playboy, WebMD, AARP the Magazine, AutoWeek, Washington City Paper, Trader Monthly, and Private Air. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.