High-performing and highly available Scale-Out File Server with SMB3
Posted by Ivan Talaichuk on December 6, 2017

There’s, probably, no IT administrator who hasn’t heard of SMB3 (Server Message Block). is an application-layer network protocol, developed by Microsoft mostly to provide shared access to the files, and allowing communication between nodes. SMB has been designed as a tool for the creation of a DOS-based network file system, but Microsoft took the initiative and renamed SMB into CIFS later on (Common Internet File System) and continued further developing it. The second version – SMB 2.0, has been introduced in Windows Vista with a wide range of new features, thus it became clear that Microsoft was working hard to improve this protocol.

Now, to SMB3. It’s an improved version of the previous Server Message Block protocol that Microsoft introduced as one of the key features in Windows Server 2012 operating system. SMB3 comes with a significant number of new capabilities like SMB Transparent Failover, SMB Encryption, VSS for SMB file shares, SMB Direct (SMB over RDMA) and SMB Multichannel. SMB Multichannel allows file servers to use multiple network connections simultaneously, therefore increasing performance and adding one more level of Fault Tolerance within the networking layer.

Failover Cluster Manager with SOFS roles


Forcing the affinity of a virtual NIC to a physical NIC with a SET vSwitch via Set-VMNetworkAdapterTeamMapping
Posted by Didier Van Hoye on September 20, 2017

Window Server 2016 Hyper-V brought us Switch Embedded teaming (SET). That’s the way forward when it comes to converged networking and Software-Defined Networking with the network controller and network virtualization.  It also allows for the use of RDMA on a management OS virtual NIC (vNIC).

One of the capabilities within SET is affinitizing a vNIC to a particular team member, that is a physical NIC (pNIC). This isn’t a hard requirement for SET to work properly but it helps in certain scenarios. With a vNIC we mean either a management OS vNIC or a virtual machine vNIC actually, affinitizing can be done for both. The main use case and focus here and in real life is in the management OS vNICs we use for SMB Direct traffic.

complete Switch Embedded Teaming configuration


Free SMB3 Failover File Server on Microsoft Hyper-V Server 2016
Posted by Ivan Ischenko on August 3, 2017

In the previous article, we have created a free SMB3 file server. I decided to proceed with the testing of Microsoft Server Hyper-V 2016 free version possibilities. In this post, I will try to create Highly Available devices with StarWind Virtual SAN and then create a Microsoft Failover Cluster to make a Highly Available File Server.

We are using 2 servers with Microsoft Hyper-V 2016 added into a domain (Hyper-V-1; Hyper-V-2). Client node with Windows Server 2016 (2016-client-test).

Microsoft Hyper-V 2016 servers added into a domain



Free SMB3 File Server on Hyper-V 2016
Posted by Ivan Ischenko on July 28, 2017


This series of articles will guide you through creating a free SMB 3.0 file server in Microsoft Windows Hyper-V 2016. Hyper-V 2016 is an absolutely free GUI-less version of Microsoft Windows Server for virtual machines.

Hyper-V 2016 Server has been specifically developed and created only for virtual machines. According to Microsoft EULA, StarWind does not recommend repeating the steps below, because this process is a violation of the license agreement. The reason why we can create SMB File Share on Hyper-V 2016 is simple: all Windows servers require SMB 1/2/3 to work, and Hyper-V 2016 is not an exception. But it does not mean you should create any unsupported Microsoft services on GUI-less Hyper-V 2016.


As I mentioned before, Windows Hyper-V 2016 supports SMB3 file server. However, the license agreement states that users are prohibited from doing that. For example, if you really need fast SMB 3.0 file server for your home lab, you can repeat the steps below, but only for testing purpose. So, let’s start creating SMB3 file server on Microsoft Hyper-V 2016.

SMB 3.0 file server creation



Musings on Windows Server Converged Networking & Storage
Posted by Didier Van Hoye on August 19, 2016

Why you should learn about SMB Direct, RDMA & lossless Ethernet for both networking & storage solutions

fully converged Hyper-V Qos Courtesy of Microsoft

Server, Hypervisor, Storage

Too many people still perceive Windows Server as “just” an operating system (OS). It’s so much more. It’s an OS, a hypervisor, a storage platform with a highly capable networking stack. Both virtualization and cloud computing are driving the convergence of all the above these roles forward fast, with intent and purpose. We’ll position the technologies & designs that convergence requires and look at the implications of these for a better overall understanding of this trend.

SMB3: Overview
Posted by Anton Kolomyeytsev on May 10, 2016

This is an overview of the Server Message Block (SMB3) protocol from Microsoft. It offers a short insight into the history of SMB3 creation and development over the years (as the idea is technically around 30 years old). As of Windows Server 2012, the protocol got new features: SMB Transparent Failover, SMB Scale Out, SMB Multichannel, SMB Direct, SMB Encryption, VSS for SMB file shares, SMB Directory Leasing, SMB PowerShell. In Windows Server 2016, it also got Pre-authentication integrity and Cluster dialect fencing. The post concentrates on RDMA-capable SMB Direct and MPIO-utilizing SMB Multichannel and their benefits. Also, it is an introduction to a series of tests aimed at creating SMB 3.0 File Servers in an unusual way.



Hyper-V: Free “Shared Nothing” SMB3 Failover File Server
Posted by Anton Kolomyeytsev on January 22, 2016

A part of a series, the research is dedicated to the capability of free Microsoft Hyper-V Server R2 to assume a file server role and cluster the resulting file server. Our last experiment on this matter showed that it’s possible to create SMB3 File Server on the free Microsoft Hyper-V Server R2 and now we’re about to go further and cluster it. The post shows a detailed instruction on the process and also the resulting setup. It appears to be fully working and usable, so the process may be called a success after all. Though it is absolutely real to do so, it is a violation of Microsoft’s license agreement, so StarWind urges everyone to refrain from repeating the experiment.

2 servers with Microsoft Hyper-V Server 2012 R2 added into domain and the client node with Windows Server 2012 R2


Hyper-V: Free SMB3 File Server
Posted by Anton Kolomyeytsev on January 22, 2016

The first experiment dedicated to building a file server on free Microsoft Hyper-V Server R2. It is a part of a series of similar practical posts. The post offers a detailed instruction on how to assign file server role to the free Microsoft Hyper-V Server R2. However, this process is a violation of license agreement, so StarWind urges the readers not to repeat it. As to the reason the process is at all possible, the answer is quite simple: SMB3 is a crucial part of the free Microsoft Hyper-V Server R2 and the latter won’t work if the protocol support is cut out. In any case, a fact that you can do something doesn’t mean you should. Violating Microsoft’s user license agreement is some serious business you don’t want to get involved in.

Microsoft Hyper-V Server 2012 R2 as the file server and Windows Server 2012 R2 as the client


Storage Replica: “Shared Nothing” Scale-Out File Server
Posted by Anton Kolomyeytsev on October 17, 2014

This post is about Microsoft Storage Replica – a disaster recovery tool, introduced by Microsoft in Windows Server 2016. It is a part of series about this technology, which is all featured on this blog. Basically, the post is a practical guide for building a “Shared Nothing” Scale-Out File Server, prepared by StarWind engineers after they did it themselves. The “Shared Nothing” is an architecture, which implies that each node is self-sufficient and completely independent, which makes the system more reliable. It got its name because the nodes don’t have a shared storage at all, moving closer to eliminating the single point of failure. The architecture is almost infinitely scalable, becoming popular with use cases where unpredictable and explosive growth is typical.

Storage replication

Storage Replica: “Shared Nothing” SMB3 Failover File Server
Posted by Anton Kolomyeytsev on October 15, 2014

This is the first test in the series, dedicated to Microsoft Storage Replica – a new solution introduced in Windows Server 2016. It shows a step-by-step process of “Shared Nothing” Failover File Server building, based on the Server Message Block protocol (SMB3). Microsoft Storage Replica is a versatile data replication solution. It performs replication between servers, between volumes in a server, between clusters, etc. The typical use case for Microsoft Storage Replica is Disaster Recovery, which is basically replication to a remote site. It allows easy recovery of data in case the main site operation is disrupted by some sort of a force majeure, like natural disasters. The test is performed by StarWind engineers with a full report on the results.

storage replication