I can't believe Microsoft have done this. :mad: The one feature that made Windows Home Server v1.0 so great for home users (Drive Extender), has now been completely ripped out of Windows Home Server v2.0 ("Vail"), because it wasn't working well for business customers. That makes sense!!! :rolleyes:
When Bad Things Happen to Good Technology: RIP, Drive Extender
In this age of ten-second attention spans, bloggers are often guilty of over-dramatizing non-events to make them seem more important.
This is not such a time.
Microsoft today announced that it is removing its Drive Extender technology from Windows Home Server "Vail" (WHS v2) and Small Business Server 2011 Essentials (formerly "Aurora"). I mentioned this in today's daily update, and discussed it on Windows Weekly today, but based on the number of emails I've gotten, few people were aware that I had already discussed this topic elsewhere.
That said, I have some additional information that Microsoft didn't discuss in either of their blog posts (here and here) today announcing this decision.
First, let's review what Drive Extender was, and what it was going to become.
Drive Extender debuted in the first version of Windows Home Server in 2007. It supplies two key benefits: Data redundancy and a single, expandable pool of storage that doesn't require drive letters and is easily expandable.
The data redundancy feature is easy enough to explain: Through a simple UI in the WHS console, you can ensure that all of the files in a given share were duplicated across two physical hard disks. This ensures that, should a drive fail, your only copy of an important photo, document, or other file doesn't go with it.
The second one is like RAID for Dummies: It lets you add hard drives to your server and have their storage added to the WHS storage pool. You don't have to deal with drive letters, and because content is essentially stored in shares, the available storage available to those shares is limitless (or at least only limited to your server's ability to add more disks).
Drive Extender is awesome, and as the underlying technology responsible for two of WHS' best features, Microsoft was planning to expand its use beyond WHS, first to Small Business Server (in "Aurora") and then later to other versions of Windows Server and the Windows client.
So here's where we get to the bit that Microsoft didn't communicate for some reason: Why Drive Extender is being killed.
In a briefing last month, I was told that Microsoft and its partners discovered problems with Drive Extender once they began typical server loads (i.e. server applications) on the system. This came about because Drive Extender was being moved from a simple system, WHS, to a more complex, server-like OS ) (SBS "Aurora") that would in fact be used to run true server applications. And these applications were causing problems.
Windows Home Server code name "Vail" – Update
When we first started designing Windows Home Sever code name "Vail" one of our initial focuses was to continue to provide effortless support for multiple internal and external hard drives. Drive Extender provided the ability to take the small hard drives many small businesses and households may have acquired, and pool them together in a simple volume. During our current testing period for our Windows Home Server code name "Vail" product, we have received feedback from partners and customers about how they use storage today and how they plan to use it moving forward. Today large hard drives of over 1TB are reasonably priced, and freely available. We are also seeing further expansion of hard drive sizes at a fast rate, where 2TB drives and more are becoming easy accessible to small businesses. Since customers looking to buy Windows Home Server solutons from OEM's will now have the ability to include larger drives, this will reduce the need for Drive Extender functionality.
When weighing up the future direction of storage in the consumer and SMB market, the team felt the Drive Extender technology was not meeting our customer needs. Therefore, moving forward we have decided to remove the Drive Extender technology from Windows Home Server Code Name "Vail" (and Windows Small Business Server 2011 Essentials and Windows Storage Server 2008 R2 Essentials) which are currently in beta.
While this removes the integrated ability for storage pooling of multiple hard drives and automated data duplication, we are continuing to work closely with our OEM partners to implement storage management and protection solutions, as well as other software solutions. This will provide customers greater choice as well as a seamless experience that will meet their storage needs. Customers will also have access to the in-built storage solutions Windows Server 2008 R2 provides for data protection. We are also still delivering core features such as automated Server and PC backup, easy sharing of folders and files, Remote Web Access and simplified management without any expected changes.
Target product availability is still H1 2011, and we expect to deliver a new beta without drive extender for Windows Home Server Code Name “Vail” early in the New Year.