The new Datacenter Edition of Windows Server 2016 introduced a new feature called Storage Spaces Direct. This solution lets you combine the locally attached storage. This file can then be sent to the cluster as a CSV so that it can be used in a Scale-Out File Server. This will let us access the file over SMB 3 and can be used to hold cluster data like Hyper-V VMDK files. It can also be configured in an HCI fashion so that the application and the data can both be run on the same set of servers.
Building a highly available 2-node SQL Server Failover Cluster Instance (FCI) using SQL Server Standard Edition without shared storage is possible. However, if you wanted HA without a SAN, you didn’t have any other option than to buy SQL Server Enterprise Edition. You then had to make use of Always On Availability Groups or buy SIOS Datakeeper and then use a third-party solution which allows you to build SANless clusters with almost any version of Windows or SQL Server. The Enterprise Edition can prove to be really costly for your project, especially if you were to buy it just for the Availability Groups feature.
However, with all the good things that can be done using S2D, there are a few limitations to its use as well. The limitations, when compared to the advantages are very less, but should still be taken note of.
Here are the limitations of using Storage Spaces Direct:
1] Knowledge of PowerShell is required
S2D requires the knowledge of PowerShell. PowerShell is a programming language and the knowledge of this language will be of great help when it comes to setting up and managing S2D. However, not all people know much about PowerShell and this makes it difficult for the majority of the people to make use of S2D with ease.
2] High Costs
S2D is very expensive software to own and use for a business. Unlike DataKeeper, S2D doesn’t work on a lot of platforms. It will function only on the latest releases of Windows and SQL Server 2016/2017. Also, S2D needs the Datacenter Edition of Windows, which will increase the cost of your deployment multiple folds.
3] Increased Node Requirement
S2D requires a minimum of four nodes in order to display optimal performance. It can support a scaled-down infrastructure with just two nodes but requires an additional tie-breaker mechanism in such a case. If you wish to deploy S2D in a Single Availability Zone, the deployment becomes very tough because at least three cluster nodes are recommended. Also, each node must reside in its own subnet as a result of some networking restrictions imposed by AWS. This restriction requires each cluster node to reside in a different subnet. However, S2D is not designed to run in different subnets which further complicates the matter.
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