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Inside Windows Storage: Server Storage Technologies for Windows 2000, Windows Server 2003 and Beyond

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Inside Windows Storage: Server Storage Technologies for Windows 2000, Windows Server 2003 and Beyond


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  • Copyright 2004
  • Edition: 1st
  • Book
  • ISBN-10: 0-321-12698-X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0-321-12698-6

"Dilip Naik's Inside Windows Storage is an invaluable reference for developers and customers alike and is a must-read for anyone wishing to implement Windows-based storage networking."
—Tom Clark, Director, Technical Marketing, Nishan Systems

The Windows and enterprise storage markets are converging. Migrating upwards from low-end servers, Windows is becoming a genuine platform for running mission-critical applications. The enterprise storage market is moving from high-end servers to also include medium range servers. Thanks to a slew of enterprise storage related features, Microsoft Windows storage technologies are rapidly gaining widespread acceptance. System administrators, programmers, and technical managers need to learn to appreciate and to tap the full potential of Windows enterprise storage.

Inside Windows Storage is the first book to provide a comprehensive look at new and emerging Microsoft storage technologies. The text begins with an overview of the enterprise storage industry and Windows Server architecture, including the Windows NT I/O subsystem. With that foundation in place, readers explore the ins and outs of current Windows offerings, upcoming Windows server releases, and third-party products.

Key topic coverage includes:

  • Direct Attached Storage, including the new Windows Storport driver model
  • Fibre Channel Storage Area Networks (SANs)
  • Network Attached Storage (NAS), including the Windows NT network stack and an overview of CIFS
  • Backup and restore technologies, including Windows XP and Windows Server 2003 Volume Shadow Copy Service
  • File systems and disk virtualization, including a detailed overview of NTFS as well as a study of Windows cluster file systems
  • Storage management, including the new Windows Virtual Disk Service
  • IP Storage and Infiniband
  • High availability, including RAID mirroring as well as multi path I/O solutions

This extensive guide concludes by tracing Windows NT storage features as they appear in Windows NT 4.0, Windows 2000, and Windows Server 2003, and by offering a preview of what to expect from future Windows server releases. In short, Inside Windows Storage will help IT professionals gear up for the major role that Windows servers will surely play in the future of enterprise storage.


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Table of Contents

1. Introduction to Windows NT & Windows NT Storage Device Drivers.

Windows Kernel Mode and User Mode.

Processes, Process Context and Threads.

Windows NT Architecture.

Hardware Abstraction Layer.

Windows NT Kernel.

Windows NT Executive.

I/O Subsystem.

Graphical Sub System.

Win32 Sub System.

Windows Device Driver Related Data Structures.

Driver Object.

Device Object.

I/O Request Packet (IRP).

Anatomy of a Windows Device Driver.

Interrupt Service Routine (ISR).

Deferred Processing Call (DPC).

Asynchronous Procedure Call (APC).

Drivers and I/O Buffers.

Buffered I/O.

Direct I/O.

Neither I/O.

Storage Driver Hierarchy and Driver Types.

Bus Driver.

Port Driver.

Class Driver.

Windows NT Device Tree for Storage Devices.

Volume Management Layer.

File System Drivers.

Filter Drivers.

A Typical Storage Application I/O.

Practical Implications.


2. Direct Attached Storage.



Functions and Characteristics.

Terminology and Commands.


Mini IDE Driver Model.

The Emergence of HBAs.


Storport Driver.

Practical Implications.


3. Network Attached Storage.

The Emergence of NAS.

Windows NT Network Stack.

Transport Driver Interface (TDI).


Mini Redirectors.

Multiple Universal Naming Convention Provider (MUP).

Multi Provider Router (MPR).

Client Side Caching.

Common Internet File System (CIFS) & SMBs.

CIFS Flavors.

CIFS Protocol Description.

CIFS Security.

CIFS Authentication.

CIFS Optimization Features.




Multi Protocol Access Problems.

Windows and NAS.

Microsoft Exchange 2000 and NAS.

Practical Implications.


4. Introduction to Fibre Channel Storage Area Networks.

The Need for Fibre Channel.

Network Attached Storage (NAS) and Storage Area Networks (SAN) Comparison.

Advantages of Fibre Channel.


Segregation of Storage.

Centralization and Management of Storage.

Legacy Device Support.

Support for a Larger Number of Devices.


New Functionality Enabled.

Fibre Channel Topologies.

Point to Point.

Fibre Channel Arbitrated Loop.

Fibre Channel Switched Fabric.

Fibre Channel Port Types.

Fibre Channel Protocol.

Layer FC-0.

Layer FC-1.

Layer FC-2.

Layer FC-3.

Layer FC-4.

SAN Building Blocks.

Host Bus Adapter (HBA).

Fibre Channel Cable Types.


Inter Connect Devices.

Fibre Channel Management Concepts.


LUN Masking.

Fibre Channel Interoperability.

Practical Implications.


5. Backup and Restore Technologies.

Reasons for Backup and Restore.

Backup Problems.

The Backup Window.

Exploding APIs (Application Programming Interfaces).

Open Files Problem.

Backup Classifications.

Backup Classifications Based Upon Architecture.

Backup Types Based Upon Functionality.

Backup Classifications Based Upon Network Infrastructure.

Windows 2000 Backup Utility.

Techniques to Create a Volume Snapshot.

Windows XP and Windows Server 2003 Volume Shadow Copy Service.



Volume Shadow Copy Service.


Windows NT I/O Subsystem Modifications.

Windows Powered NAS Devices and Snapshots.

Network Data Management ProtocolNDMP.

NDMP Architecture.

Practical Implications.


6. File Systems.

Disks, Partitions and Volumes.

Basic Disks.

Dynamic Disks.

Volumes and Volume Managers.

Partition Manager.

Mount Manager.

Device Tree for Volumes on Basic Disks.

Device Tree for Volumes on Dynamic Disks.

Device Namespace.

Windows File Systems.


NTFS System Files.

NTFS Logical Cluster Numbers and Virtual Cluster Numbers.

NTFS MFT Record Structure.

NTFS Directories.

NTFS Recovery Log.

NTFS Security.

NTFS Sparse Files.

NTFS Compressed Files.

NTFS User Disk Space Quotas.

NTFS Native Property Sets.

File Ownership by User.

Improved Access Control List Checking.

Change Journal/USN Journal/Change Log File.

NTFS Stream Rename.

Object IDs and Link Tracking.

CHKDSK Improvements.

File System Content Indexing.

Read Only NTFS.

NTFS Fragmentation and De-fragmentation.

Encrypting File System (EFS).

NTFS Hard Links.

Reparse Points.

Volume Mount Points.

Directory Junction Points.

Windows NT Single Instance Storage (SIS).

Hierarchical Storage Management.

SAN File Systems.

Advantages of SAN File Systems.

Technical Challenges.

Commercially Available SAN Systems.

Practical Implications.


7. Storage Management.

Common Information Model and WBEM.

Windows Management Instrumentation (WMI).

Storage Virtualization.

Virtualization in the (Host) Server.

Virtualization in the Storage Hardware.

Virtualization in the Storage Network.

In-Band Virtualization.

Out-of-Band Virtualization.

Microsoft Storage Virtualization Vision.

Disk Virtualization Service.

Fabric Virtualization Service.


Management Command Line Utilities.

SAN Security.

Hierarchical Storage Management (HSM).

Remote Storage Service (RSS).

Windows 2000 Removable Storage Management (RSM).

Storage Management FuturesBluefin and Storage Management Initiative (SMI).

Practical Implications.


8. IP Storage and Infiniband.

IP Storage.

Why IP Storage?


Windows NT iSCSI Implementation.


Internet Fibre Channel Protocol iFCP.

Internet Storage Name Service (iSNS).

TCP Offload.


InfiniBand Advantages.

InfiniBand Architecture.

Microsoft and InfiniBand.

Practical Implications.


9. High Availability.








Dual Level RAID.

Windows NT and RAID Implementation.

High Availability Using Redundancy.

Microsoft Multi Path Support in Windows 2000, and Windows Server 2003.

Existing Multi-Path Solutions.

Local and Remote Mirroring.

Veritas Volume Replicator and Veritas Storage Replicator.


Legato Co-Standby Server.

Practical Implications.


10. Storage features by Windows Product Release Cycles.

Windows NT 4.0.

Improved Storage Unit Accessibility.

CIFS, NFS, Netware, and Macintosh Client Support.

De-fragmentation APIs.

Distributed File System (Dfs).

Windows 2000.

Improved Storage Unit Accessibility.

New Volume and Disk Management.

Dfs Improvements.

Offline Folders and Client Side Caching.

File Replication Service.

File System Content Indexing.

Setup improvements.

File System Improvements.

NTFS Improvements.

Reparse Points.

Removable Storage Management (RSM).

Encrypting File SystemEFS.

System File Protection.

Windows Server 2003.

STORPORT Driver Model.

Volume Shadow Copy Service.

Virtual Disk Service (VDS).

Multi Path I/O.

Improved Manageability.

SAN Aware Volume Management.

SAN Application Enabling.

NTFS Improvements.

De-fragmentation Improvements.

EFS Improvements.

Remote Storage Services.

BOOT Improvements.

ChkDsk Improvements.

Caching Behavior Improvements.

Automated System Recovery.

Dfs Improvements.

WebDAV Redirector.

Driver Infrastructure Improvements.

HBA API Support.

GUID Partition Table (GPT) Disks.

Post Windows Server 2003.

Fabric Virtualization Service.

LUN Management.

iSCSI Support.

Multi Path I/O.

What's Missing?

SAN Boot.

Reducing the Layers in the Storage Stack.

Multi Path I/O for iSCSI.

Practical Implications.

Summary. 032112698XT03272003


Gordon Moore, Intel's co-founder once observed that the density of transistors per square inch was doubling every year. Subsequently, the pace dropped a little and the doubling was perceived to be once every 18 months instead of once every 12 months. According to industry analysts, the enterprise storage industry is still beating Moore's law in its growth.

One estimate is that in the next few years, more data will be generated than what was ever created from the entire dawn of known history! Regardless of the exact role, one must concede that Windows servers have an important role to play in the enterprise storage industry. Knowledge of the storage aspects of the Windows operating system will prove to be invaluable in this situation. This book is a humble attempt to meet this perceived need.

A word or two about the conventions used in this book would be helpful. The book uses the phrases "Windows NT" and "Windows Server family" interchangeably. Both are used when some feature that is common across all of Windows NT 4.0, Windows 2000 and Windows Server 2003 are being discussed. When needed, a particular version of the operating system is mentioned e.g. Windows 2000 or Windows Server 2003 and these refer to particular versions of the operating system rather than the operating system in a generic sense.

This book has been written for the person somewhat conversant with computers systems and the IT industry that is looking to further his/her knowledge about the storage industry in general and Windows NT architecture details as they apply to storage devices. To be clear, this book is about enterprise storage, and consumer storage details are described cursorily, if at all. The book attempts to strike a balance between catering to the software professional who knows nothing about storage and the professional somewhat conversant with storage, but looking for some good insights of Windows NT storage architecture.

If the reader comes away with just one idea after reading this book, that idea is intended to be a deep appreciation of the steady acceleration of enterprise storage related features that each succeeding release of the Windows NT operating system has and will bring to market.

This book attempts to strike a balance between the following aspects:

  • Making information available on a timely basis.
  • Providing detailed information and respecting intellectual property rights. The book covers a number of Software Development Kits (SDKs) that are only available under a Non Disclosure Agreement (NDA) basis. Hence the coverage of these has been necessarily limited to what is already publicly available information. The author has erred on the side of caution and preferred to provide only that information the author is certain is publicly available, but has added value to this often cryptic and difficult to locate information by providing the necessary explanations.
  • Provide information on upcoming Windows NT releases and not just "stale" information about the past Windows NT releases. Such forward looking information is necessary in order to appreciate the clear focus Microsoft has devoted to enterprise storage in the Windows NT operating system. The obvious risk is that plans are subject to change. The book clearly mentions when some particular aspect is related to forthcoming Windows NT releases.

A word of caution is in order here. This book makes some forwarding looking statements in the form of expected features in forthcoming releases of the Windows NT operating systems. Microsoft has repeatedly made it clear that the only guaranteed way of identifying features in an operating system release is after the actual release. No matter what is said at trade shows, seminars, etc. there is no guarantee that some features tentatively discussed will ever ship, let alone ship with a particular version of the operating system. Hence the forward looking statements in this book are a best guess and should be treated as such. No material plans of any kind should be based upon these guesses.

Any reader who does not appreciate the "Safe Harbor Statement" nature of the previous two paragraphs is highly encouraged to study (and not just read) them again.

About This Book

The book begins with an overview of Windows NT architecture including the Windows NT I/O sub system and storage driver architectures. This chapter is an attempt to condense the vast amount of information purveyed in the excellent books "Inside Windows NT" (Microsoft Press) and is intended for the reader that does not have the time available to peruse the book in its entirety.

Chapter 2 describes Direct Attached Storage which was historically the first choice for storage.

Chapter 3 describes Network Attached Storage which was the next major mile stone in enterprise storage. The Windows NT network stack is explained in detail, from the point of view of the storage professional.

Chapter 4 describes Fibre Channel Storage Area Networks, a technology that is perceived to be now rapidly maturing and still holding its own in the face of upcoming new technology in the form of IP SCSI and Infiniband

Chapter 5 covers the basics of backup/restore and the new Volume Shadow Copy Service (also popularly referred to as snapshots) in Windows Server 2003.

Chapter 6 covers file systems and disk virtualization with particular reference to Windows NT. The chapter also discusses cluster file systems.

Chapter 7 discusses storage management in general and the various storage management solutions as they apply to Windows NT.

Chapter 8 covers new technologies in storage particularly IP Storage (which attempts to meld storage and IP networks) as well as Infiniband.

Chapter 9 discusses Windows Server 2003 and Windows 2000 natively supported solutions to provide high availability services (including fail over, fail back, as well as load balancing) using multi ported dual HBAs in a Windows NT server. The chapter also discusses more mundane high availability and performance solutions such as RAID.

While the rest of this book is organized into chapters based upon technologies, Chapter 10 is organized by Windows NT releases. Irrespective of what storage technology is being discussed, Chapter 10 traces the storage features as they appeared in Windows NT 4.0, Windows 2000 and expected features in Windows Server 2003 server and beyond. So read on, and I hope, enjoy.

Please send all feedback to DilipN@Niriva.com.

—Dilip Naik
Redmond, Washington



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