Storage Spaces Direct

Forecasting Azure Stack HCI Cache Wear

Forecasting Azure Stack HCI Cache Wear

So you’ve set up an Azure Stack HCI Cluster and everything’s running great, but there is this nagging feeling in the back of your mind. It’s a hybrid setup, with some type of flash cache sitting in front of spinning disk, and you start to wonder how hard you’re pushing that cache, and how long it will last. Thankfully with Windows Server 2019, there are many in-built tools and commands to help work out just that!

Perform better Storage Spaces Direct maintenance with these Powershell functions

Storage Spaces Direct (S2D) is an incredibly powerful technology, and makes up a huge part of the new AzureStack HCI Solution, however performing maintenance on it can catch out new players. One of the biggest causes of failures while performing maintenance on S2D hosts and clusters, is that the hosts haven’t been correctly put into maintenance mode, so I set out to simplify the process with 3 new functions. The 3 activities I’ve targeted with these functions are enabling and disabling maintenance mode on a host correctly, and checking the current state of a host or cluster.

Get a pretty view of your S2D Storage Pools

I’d like to start with a shout out to Philip Elder, for he came up with the initial idea and script that I’ve used here. One thing that’s not always obvious when dealing with S2D Clusters is how much of your Storage Pool has been provisioned and how much capacity, if any, is left. To help with this, we came up with be script you’ll see at the bottom of this article.

Looking at the Write Cache in Storage Spaces Direct

If you’ve ever dealt with a SAN or Storage guy before, you’ll know that they usually have a huge passion for cache stats. This is because the secret sauce of accelerating cheap storage for years has been to stick a small amount of expensive but super fast flash in front of your slower spinning disk, or in recent years, your cheaper low endurance SSDs. Because of this, it was always a good idea to keep an eye on how your cache was going, making sure things like Cache Hit Misses were low, and that your Write Cache wasn’t overallocated.

You need to change the way you patch S2D Clusters

If you’re running a Storage Spaces Direct (S2D) Cluster, you might have noticed some instability in recent months, specifically when it comes to patching and performing maintenance. Well you’re in luck because 5 days ago, Microsoft released a new KB article that helps explain why you might have seen issues. The scenario targeted by the Microsoft article is S2D Clusters running May (KB4103723) or later patch levels, where you experience Event ID 5120 during patching or maintenance, leading to things like CSV timeouts, VM pauses, or even VM crashes.

Using WS2016Lab to test Windows Server 2019

If you’ve been anywhere near Twitter or any Tech Blogs and News sites recently, you would have noticed that Microsoft have dropped their first cut of the next Long-Term Service Branch OS, Windows Server 2019, into the Windows Insider ring for people like you and me to start testing. Now most people (like me) don’t have a huge amount of spare hardware sitting round for times like this, especially for testing things like Storage Spaces Direct (S2D).

Must Read Storage Spaces Direct Blog Posts

Hi all, Quite often the best information on new technology is actually found in blog posts and not actual documentation, and while the documentation for Storage Spaces Direct from Microsoft is great, some of the real gems are in the pre-GA blogs they put up. So below, I hope to keep up a list of essential blog posts from both Microsoft and independent bloggers for those of you who wish to really understand what’s happening under the hood!

Bug when applying KB4038782 September CU to Storage Spaces Direct Clusters

UPDATE(2017-09-19): Microsoft have officially recognized the bug and have a KB describing the symptoms and workaround much like the below. See here: https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/help/4043361/disks-in-maintenance-mode-status-after-september-cumulative-update-kb I was patching our dev cluster the other day and came across a new issue when applying the latest September Cumulative Update (KB4038782), and it seems others on the internet have hit this issue as well. Background First, a bit of background on the expected behaviour when performing maintenance:

S2D Storage Tiers misconfiguration bug

I’ve been deploying a few Storage Spaces Direct (S2D) clusters lately, and I noticed a slight mis-configuration that can occur on deployment. Normally when deploying S2D, the disk types in the nodes are detected and the fastest disk (usually NVMe or SSD) is assigned to the cache, while the next fastest is used for the Performance Tier and the slowest being used in the Capacity Tier. So if you have NVMe, SSD and HDD, you would end up with an NVMe Cache, a SSD Performance Tier and a HDD Capacity Tier.

Expanding Storage Spaces Direct Volumes

As many of you would have seen, Windows Server 2016 has been officially launched, with evaluation media available and General Availability slated for later this month. One of the great new features in this release, is Storage Spaces Direct, a Software-Defined Storage Solution. There is already plenty of information available on how to get this up and running on Technet, but I thought I’d share some of the operational tasks that aren’t so obvious, starting with expanding volumes.