Early Windows Server 2016 testers can now natively manage and monitor the storage performance of their virtual machines with a new feature called Storage Quality of Service (QoS). Part of this week's release of Windows Server 2016 Technical Preview 2, Storage QoS enables administrators to provide virtual machines, and their applications by extension, predictable performance to an organization's networked storage resources.
"The feature automatically improves storage resource fairness between multiple virtual machines using the same file server cluster and allows specific minimum and maximum performance goals (Storage QoS policies) to be configured in units of normalized 8KB IOPs," explained Microsoft Principal Program Manager Jose Barreto in a statement. The ability to manage Storage QoS is also present in Virtual Machine Manager 2016 Technical Preview 2, he noted.
Storage QoS helps level the playing field while virtual machines jockey for storage resources. According to a related Microsoft support document, the feature helps reduce "noisy neighbor" issues caused by resource-intensive virtual machines. "By default, Storage QoS ensures that a single virtual machine cannot consume all storage resources and starve other virtual machines of storage bandwidth," stated the company.
It also offers administrators the confidence to load up on virtual machines by providing better visibility into their virtual machine storage setups. "Storage QoS policies define performance minimums and maximums for virtual machines and ensures that they are met. This provides consistent performance to virtual machines, even in dense and overprovisioned environments," Microsoft wrote.
Should administrators test the limits of their server and storage infrastructures, Storage QoS in Windows Server 2016 will let them know. "If policies cannot be met, alerts are available to track when VMs are out of policy or have invalid policies assigned," stated the document.
Storage QoS also casts a wide net, allowing administrators to keep an eye on their entire environment. "As soon as virtual machines stored on a Scale-Out File Server are started, their performance is monitored. Performance details of all running virtual machines and the configuration of the Scale-Out File Server cluster can be viewed from a single location," stated Microsoft.
Other storage-related features in the Windows Server 2016 Technical Preview 2 release include Storage Replica; Virtual Machine Storage Path resiliency, a feature that gracefully pauses and restarts virtual machines in the event of storage path failures; and Storage Spaces Direct server storage pooling.
Nano Server in the Wild
Windows Server 2016 Technical Preview 2 also marks the first time the public can try out Nano Server, Microsoft's new stripped-down, container-friendly operating system.
Nano Server is a lightweight "installation option of Windows Server that is highly optimized for the cloud, including containers," said Mike Neil, general manager for Microsoft Windows Server, in an April 8 announcement. "Nano Server provides just the components you need—nothing else, meaning smaller server images, which reduces deployment times, decreases network bandwidth consumption, and improves uptime and security."