Windows Home Server: Resource Deconfliction

As more and more Windows Home Server Add-Ons are introduced, WHS becomes more and more like an appliance than a piece of software (and hardware).

More and more Add-ons mean that we ask more and more of our systems. These demands mean that finite resources have to allocated and shared with the WHS software itself.

DEMigrator.exe comes to mind ( the magic behind folder duplication). Since DeMigrator does not actually have a front end ( short of turning off folder duplication), it is impossible to pause or stop it when its running in favour of something more urgent. Granted we could change our backup window, but this is not always convenient or possible.

What WHS needs is some way of managing resources on a much more granular level than process priorities. By that I mean that WHS makes  a logical guess as to what process(es) need to run now  and what processes are less immediate.

So if I use SageTV to record show x at time y and a defrag ( or other processor intensive program) is scheduled to run at the same time, we need resource deconfliction to kick in and sort it out. We can do this in one of two ways: either throttle back the proccessor intensive process or re schedule it ( if the drive isn’t very fragmented a missed defrag pass wont make much of a difference).

Naturally, we can’t expect this souped up task scheduler to be able to handle every occurrence of every program. this means that WHS would simply notify the offending process(es) of the situation and it would be up to the program to implement a responsible and reasonable strategy to handle that.

If you’ve got a high end system running WHS, this discussion isn’t very dramatic. But between backups, defrags, virus scans, DeMigrator, SageTV  and others ad nauseam  ( even automatic Windows Update needs to be able to safely restart) jockeying for resources, something needs to manage this safely and well.

Essentially, this is bringing WHS closer to the headless system originally envisioned. It would save me a lot of Remoteing in every day.

Before we finish, let take a look at the specs for the WHS systems commercially available from HP, etc to get an idea of exactly what resources are available.

The Microsoft minimum spec is 1Ghz and 512Mb RAM and 1x 70Gb drive.

The recommended spec is 64-bit Compatible Intel Pentium 4, AMD x64 or newer with 512Mb Ram and 2x hard drives with a 300GB primary disk.

  CPU RAM Hard Drive
HP Media Smart AMD 1.8 GHZ 64-bit Sempron 3400+ processor 512Mb 2x 500Gb
Norco DS-520 Intel Celeron M 1GHz 1Gb 1x 250Gb
Piranha Home Server Intel Celeron 430 (1.8GHz, 512KB, Conroe) 1GB 2x250Gb
T2-WHS-A3 Harmony Home Server Intel Celeron 220 1.2GHz 512Mb (1Gb Optional) 1 x 500Gb (1Tb/2Tb Optional)
T7-HSA Harmony Home Server Via C7M “Esther” 1.5Ghz 512Mb (1Gb Optional) 1 x 500Gb (1Tb Optional)
My own homebuilt system (Dell  Poweredge SC440) Intel Celeron D 2.8Ghz 2GB 1x160Gb

I think this is a pretty representative sample of the entire range. You can get the reviews on these servers and others from We Got Served Hardware page.

NB. The extra possibilities of multi-core  64 bit machines allowing true concurrent execution are mind boggling.