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5 Fast Reasons To Upgrade to SMB 2.2

Microsoft Hyper-V 3 is shaping up to be an impressive release with a feature lineup worthy of a standing ovation. I am sure you have heard by now about the major features of Hyper-V 3, especially around virtual networking and Cisco's support of Hyper-V 3 via its Nexus 1000V. However, a feature that has not been given its true credit is Hyper-V 3's support of SMB 2.2, the latest newcomer to the IP storage arena and a direct challenger of the increasingly popular file-level protocol NFS.

For a while now, I and others have been wondering why Microsoft does not extend Hyper-V support to SMB. Lo and behold, the company announces its support for SMB 2.2. SMB 2.2 promises some significant enhancements that would make for a perfect companion to Hyper-V 3. For those of you that are not aware, SMB 2.0 introduced with Windows Vista and Windows Server 2008 significantly improves features, performance and stability over SMB 1.0 found in earlier versions.

The most noticeable change between SMB 1.0 and 2.0 and later 2.1 is the performance over the network. Versions 2.0 and newer are less chatty, faster and much more reliable, one more reason to migrate to Windows Server 2008 and to upgrade from Windows XP to Windows 7. That being said, let's comes back to the issue at hand: the new enhancements in SMB 2.2 that make it a perfect companion to Hyper-V 3:

Unified SAN/SMB Copy Offload--My favorite feature of the new SMB 2.2 protocol allows your array controllers to execute large data copies on behalf of Hyper-V 3. Instead of executing them leveraging the hypervisor, you are offloading it to physical array where it should be in the first place. It's very similar to what vSphere offers today.

Remote VSS--Volume Shadow Copy is the basis for almost every management tool that interacts with Windows today, from backups and restores to continuous availability. Remote VSS will extend this feature to SMB 2.2.

Witness Protocol--Another great feature of SMB 2.2 deals with HA, resiliency and load balancing, Witness instructs a client to redirect to a different node when it detects a node failure. It also dynamically and seamless load balances between nodes for optimal performance.

Cluster Client Failover--This feature allows VMs which are part of a Microsoft cluster to seamlessly detach and attach to different storage connection points.

MPIO--Allows for multiple Ethernet connections to the NAS storage. Think of it as link aggregation.

SMB 2.2 not only enables Hyper-V 3 to challenge VMware vSphere as an enterprise-level virtual infrastructure, but it also challenges NFS 3, the current preferred file-level storage. Frankly, I would position SMB 2.2 as a direct challenger to NFS 4 from a feature standpoint. It rivals NFS 4 features and in my opinion surpasses NFS 3. The irony of the matter is that it looks like SMB 2.2 will make its debut in the virtualization world far sooner than NFS 4, which has been around for a while now but still lacks virtualization support.

Microsoft finally has a product worthy of an enterprise virtual infrastructure, but I have said enough in this post. So, what are your thoughts?

Posted by Elias Khnaser on 10/25/2011 at 12:49 PM


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