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Latest Windows Server Test Build Gets SSD Support

Microsoft this week rolled out the latest test-build preview release of Windows Server, known as "build 17074," adding new enhancements to Storage Spaces Direct (SSD).

The company described the SSD improvements in a Wednesday announcement of the latest preview "of the next Semi-Annual Channel release of Windows Server." This preview apparently is the successor to Windows Server version 1709, Microsoft's service-enabled server product, which had its first semiannual channel release back in October.

Microsoft effectively has two types of Windows Server products now: the traditional Windows Server 2016 product and the new service-enabled one (Windows Server version 1709). The service-enabled product gets more rapid updates, with major feature updates arriving in the spring and fall of each year. Windows Server Insider Program participants get to see what's coming down the pipe from Microsoft, with improvements typically going first to the service-enabled product side.

Storage Spaces Direct promises the ability to let organizations tap newer and less expensive devices for storage, including NVMe, SATA and SDD disks. It's also a big part of Microsoft's so-called "hyperconverged networking" story with Windows Server. The SSD feature is included in the Windows Server 2016 product, but Microsoft has previously described having problems with it in the service-enabled Windows Server product.

In the latest test release of Windows Server (build 17074), Microsoft is continuing to "expand and simplify the hardware for Storage Spaces Direct," according to this week's announcement. The highlights include:

  • Persistent memory support, which helps unlock low-latency storage possibilities
  • Support for "Direct-connect SATA devices to AHCI controller"
  • Cluster Shared Volumes cache support for boosting virtual machine (VM) performance, and
  • The removal of an SCSI Enclosure Services requirement

Microsoft also added deduplication support for SSD and the Resilient File System (ReFS).

The additions to the SSD feature show that Microsoft is still working to include it in its next service-enabled Windows Server product. Back in October, it was revealed that Microsoft had pulled SSD from Windows Server version 1709 because SSD capabilities weren't at the production-environment validation level.

Microsoft also indicated in this week's announcement that it is enhancing "Azure enlightened Failover Clusters" with build 17074.

"By making high availability software running inside of an Azure IaaS VM be aware of maintenance events of the host, it can help deliver the highest levels of availability for your applications," Microsoft explained, regarding this failover cluster support improvement in Windows Server build 17074.

This build does have a "known issue," though. It may undergo a timeout failure "while attempting to load the test libraries," Microsoft indicated.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for 1105 Media's Converge360 group.

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