Build efficient server appliances using Windows Server 2012 R2 for Embedded Systems

Posted By Partha Srinivasan
Product Manager, Windows Embedded Server and SQL Products

The following is the third in a series of posts on Windows Server 2012 for Embedded Systems written by the team at Microsoft Windows Embedded.

As indicated in the previous blogs, customers of Embedded OEMs can now start testing the new Windows Server 2012 R2 for Embedded Systems (binary identical to Windows Server 2012 R2) that provides improved performance, hybrid cloud-service capabilities and innovative storage options for building robust, industry-class server appliances.

OEM manufacturers use Windows Server for Embedded Systems to build server appliances—preinstalled hardware and software combined with the operating system—which make the configuration, deployment and management of industrial devices simpler and faster. These server appliances are used in a number of industrial devices such as PACS machines in hospitals, store servers in retail stores, historian servers in manufacturing plants, and are a key enabler in developing intelligent system architectures.

Today we are going to focus on the new storage features that are included in the Windows Server 2012 R2 for Embedded Systems.

With the increase in new applications, the explosion of data and the users’ expectations for continuous services, storage demands continue to grow. Hence, storage solutions play a critical role in the server appliances market and there is a need for efficient and low-cost storage options. Windows Server 2012 R2 for Embedded Systems offers a wide variety of storage features and capabilities to address the storage challenges faced by OEMs and their end customers. Whether OEMs intend to use cost-effective industry standard hardware for building low-cost server appliances, or Storage Area Networks for the most demanding ones, Windows Server 2012 R2 for Embedded Systems provides them with a rich set of features that can help them maximize the returns from all of their storage investments.

Windows Server 2012 R2 for Embedded Systems was designed with a strong focus on storage capabilities, from the foundation of the storage stack up, to improvements ranging from provisioning storage to how data is clustered, transferred across the network, and ultimately accessed and managed. With flexible capabilities that can be combined to meet OEMs’ business needs, Windows Server 2012 R2 storage solutions deliver the efficiency, performance, resiliency, availability and versatility that OEMs need at every level.

High-performance storage on industry-standard hardware

Windows Server 2012 R2 for Embedded Systems provides a rich set of storage features that allow OEMs to build lower-cost industry-standard server appliances devices improving their hardware ROI, without having to compromise on performance or availability.

For example, Storage Spaces provides sophisticated virtualization enhancements to the storage stack that OEMs can use to pool multiple physical hard disk units together and provide feature-rich, highly resilient, and reliable storage arrays to the embedded applications. OEMs can use Storage Spaces to create storage pools, which are virtualized administration units that are aggregates of physical disk units. With these storage pools, OEMs can enable storage aggregation, elastic capacity expansion and delegated administration. They can also create virtual disks with associated attributes that include a desired level of resiliency, thin or fixed provisioning, and automatic or controlled allocation on diverse storage media.

Storage tiering, a new feature in Windows Server 2012 R2 for Embedded Systems, is a great example of how storage performance can be dramatically enhanced while building lower-cost industry standard server appliances. With storage tiering, low-cost, high-capacity spinning disks are used to store less frequently used data, while high-speed solid state disks are reserved to store frequently used data. Storage tiering builds on storage virtualization with Storage Spaces by assigning solid state drives (SSD) and hard disk drives (HDD) to the same storage pool and using them as different tiers in the same tiered space. Windows Server 2012 R2 for Embedded Systems recognizes the tiers and optimizes them by moving often-used “hot” data to the SSD tier. Windows Server 2012 R2 for Embedded Systems tracks data temperature and moves data at the sub-file level; only “hot” regions of a file (such as VHD or database) need to move to SSDs, the “cold” regions can reside on HDDs.

My next post will address high availability, recovery and storage management features of the new Windows Server 2012 R2 for Embedded Systems, and check out my previous posts.



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