Blue gradient Windows Server background image Blue gradient Windows Server background image
2 min read

Support for Applications on External Storage

Members of the Storage product management group still receive lots of inquiries about support and compatibility of Microsoft applications with external storage.  The information most often requested is related to Exchange, SQL and file serving.  We often hear comments like: Running applications like SQL, Exchange, or SharePoint are not supported on a SAN”.  Applications like SQL and Exchange do support block level storage and as such many deployments of these applications have been on Storage Area Networks that support Fibre Channel or iSCSI for block level access.  In these deployments, the application is deployed on a Windows server that is a host for a back-end SAN where the data stores reside.  How does one know if a specific storage array from vendor X is supported in these deployments?  This is easy to answer:  Check the Windows Server Catalog for RAID Storage.    If the Windows server hosting the applications is connected to a storage array which has a “designed for Windows” logo as can be verified in the Windows Server catalog, the applications are supported.  There are no tests for the applications themselves: the support comes from tests on Windows Server connected to a “logoed” storage array.   Be aware that the Windows Server Catalog makes no attempt to “rate” or “measure” the performance of the devices listed.  That aspect is very workload specific and end users should be working with their vendors to find out what are the best configurations for their deployments.  For Exchange specific deployments, more information can be found here.  The Exchange Solution Reviewed Program (ESRP) – Storage is a Microsoft Exchange Server program designed to facilitate third-party storage testing and solution publishing for Exchange Server. The program combines a storage testing harness (Jetstress) with solution publishing guidelines.  End users need to be aware that not all storage vendors that have Windows logoed arrays have submitted solutions to be posted on the ESRP site….the bare minimum for support does come from listing on the Windows Server Catalog.
One may ask: where do NAS devices fit in this context?  NAS devices are listed under the “Servers” in the Windows Server Catalog and as such to be supported they must be running a version of Windows.  This is very different than block level storage devices where the kernel running on the device is not part of the qualification.