Create thinly provisioned volumes in Windows Admin Center
Thin provisioning is a standout feature exclusive to Azure Stack HCI 21H2 and offers flexible capacity management. With thin provisioning, storage is allocated when needed and volumes can be over-provisioned (size larger than available capacity) to accommodate anticipated growth. In contrast, fixed provisioning allocates all the storage up front at the time of volume creation. This is inefficient when the volume is empty and prevents other volumes from making use of that storage.
Now you can create a thinly provisioned volume in Windows Admin Center. In Cluster Manager, go to Volumes -> Inventory -> + Create to bring up the new volume creation pane. Fixed and Thin provisioning options are available under the More options dropdown and there is a tooltip to help with the selection.
When the selection is set to Fixed provisioning, you cannot overprovision a volume. Once the selection is changed to Thin, the guidance around maximum volume size changes and you can create a volume that is greater than the pool’s available capacity.
The new Maximum volume size field is dynamically calculated based on your resiliency settings, provisioning type, media type and file system guidelines. This is not a recommendation of volume size but rather an upper ceiling for what your volume size can be. The Footprint and Available capacity fields are removed from the volume creation pane. Since the entire size of a thinly provisioned volume is not allocated up front, the Footprint field cannot be calculated simply based on resiliency settings.
To set the pool default provisioning type, go to Cluster Manager -> Settings -> Storage Spaces and pools -> Default provisioning type. This selection will determine what the default selection is in the create volume pane.
Nested resiliency can now be configured in Windows Admin Center
For two node clusters, Nested resiliency offers more protection in the event of multiple drives or nodes failing simultaneously. Users can now create a Nested 2-way mirror and Nested mirror accelerated parity volume in Windows Admin Center. Simply go to Cluster Manager -> Volumes -> Inventory -> + Create and select Nested 2-way mirror or Nested mirror accelerated parity in the Resiliency dropdown.
More options for Stretched clusters
Optional features like Integrity checksums and Encryption can now be enabled for stretch clusters during volume creation in Windows Admin Center. Previously this was only available to non-stretch clusters and setup had to be in PowerShell. At this time, thin provisioning is not available for volumes replicated across multiple sites.
Feature removal from the new volume creation panel
While this new extension update offers many improvements, there are also capabilities no longer being supported in Windows Admin Center or during volume creation.
The first is the creation of multi-tiered single resiliency volumes via Windows Admin Center. In deployments with 3 media types (NVMe, SSD, HDD), the fastest drive (NVMe) will provide caching, leaving two types of drives (SSD and HDD) to provide capacity. For new volumes created in Windows Admin Center, you must pick a single media tier for the volume will reside on. Users will have to use PowerShell for the creation and management of capacity volumes that span across 2 different media tiers.