It is only several days since Microsoft made the final bits of System Center 2012 SP1 available, although for a relatively limited audience. If you have a TechNet or MSDN subscription, you have access to SP1 now. All others have to wait till general availability in the course of January 2013.
One of my fellow MVP’s in the Cloud and Datacenter Management department, Graham Davies, raised my interest by claiming there was something in VMM 2012 SP1 that had gone unnoticed: a brand-new SMI-S storage provider for the onboard iSCSI Target Server role in Windows Server 2012! People using the iSCSI Target Server for both demo/test/development and production will get quite excited if they discover how well this software storage solution is integrated, not only in Windows but now also in System Center 2012 SP1.
Back in March 2011, I wrote several blogs about the new Fabric concept in Virtual Machine Manager 2012 which was still in its early beta. One blog focused on deep storage integration using a SNIA standard called Storage Management Initiative Specification (SMI-S). When I was contributing my Fabric chapters for the Microsoft Private Cloud Computing book, there was only a limited number of usually very expensive storage arrays to really dig into this subject. I had access to some HP and NetApp storage to test SMI-S integration which was still very limited at the time. When we saw how the iSCSI Target Server, which was previously a separate install on Windows Server 2008 R2, developed and became included as a role in Windows Server 2012, we begged the product managers responsible for storage in System Center 2012 to also provide SMI-S support. Well guys … here it is!
Fast forwarding about two years, a lot has happened in the storage space and most storage vendors have introduced SMI-S support for their most important storage products. I now consider storage that does not support SMI-S (and some of the other cool technology such as ODX and Unmap/Trim), as a sign that these products are on that vendor’s death list and will soon be obsolete.