Rebuilding windows for the 21st century

Microsoft isn't backing away from the challenges of cloud computing either in their data centers or, more importantly, their flagship Windows operating system. In a data-driven world they're getting Windows ready for the next 20 years.
Written by Robin Harris, Contributor

I'm at the Storage Developer Conference in Silicon Valley, where more than 400 storage developers have gathered to learn about the latest in data storage engineering.

This is a yeasty time in data storage and the breadth and depth of the presentations reflect that. Microsoft is here in force, which may surprise those who don't consider them a player in storage. But with all of the improvements in SMB 3.0 and the investments they're making in ReFS and Storage Spaces, they may be the most significant storage company at the conference.

I spoke to one of the core storage teams after one of their presentations yesterday. Here is some of what I learned.

  • This team is focused on data center and higher-end storage. Think cloud scale.
  • They've adopted the Google model of assuming unreliable devices and placing software-based resilency on top of them.
  • At data center scale, management is the major cost driver because things are always failing, so self-management and healing is key.
  • The worst case - non-recoverable data loss - will happen, so it's critical to minimize impact on the rest of the data center. Recovery operations work in the background and the volume stays online.
  • Software testing incorporating work highlighted in Storage Bits 5 years ago (see How Microsoft puts your data at risk) means a more reliable and consistent file system.

The Storage Bits take

ReFS and Storage Spaces are impressive technical achievements. They've installed state-of-the-art plumbing while retaining application compatibility.

Almost as impressive is Microsoft's openness. They're here in force at SDC. They're working closely with 3rd parties on SMB 3.0 compatibility. There's an API that enables direct inspection of all the data copies in ReFS.

This is a much friendlier Microsoft.

Most important though - and I hope this is filtering through to the rest of the commpany - is that they're going back to being a technology company: building great products that win in the market place because they're better, instead of riding on Microsoft's huge market power. That's good for all of us.

Comments welcome, of course.

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