Windows Server 2019: the new service for the storage migration (Storage Migration Service)

A known issue that rotates from time around Windows Server is the lack of an effective methodology for migrating data on older operating systems and storage on. Due to the fact that the in-place upgrade of the operating system are not feasible and that the manual migration are often slow and require significant service interruptions, the trend is to continue to use older versions of Windows Server. This article will present the features of the new service Storage Migration Service (SMS), included in Windows Server 2019, and it will be examined how this service can migrate storage present on older Windows Server platforms to facilitate its disposal.

Figure 1 – An overview of Storage Migration Server

Storage Migration Service, in this first version, is capable of transferring the content using the SMB protocol (any version) towards different targets, which: traditional hardware and virtual machines on-prem, IaaS VMs running on Azure or on Azure Stack, and Azure File Sync.

The source of the migration may have an operating system of the following:

  • Windows Server 2003
  • Windows Server 2008
  • Windows Server 2008 R2
  • Windows Server 2012
  • Windows Server 2012 R2
  • Windows Server 2016
  • Windows Server 2019 Preview

The new role Storage Migration Service (SMS) can be activate both the Standard and in the Datacenter edition of Windows Server 2019, through Windows Admin Center, PowerShell or Server Manager.

Figure 2 – Installation, from Windows Admin Center, of SMS functionality

The SMS feature consists of a service called Orchestrator (Storage Migration Service Orchestrator Node) and one or more services called proxies. The Orchestrator manages migrations and keep the various results into a repository, while the proxies systems enrich with additional functionality the migration process and allow to obtain higher performance.

The management of the migration workflow, made possible by the role SMS, can be totally orchestrated through Windows Admin Center (also known as Project Honolulu). With this management tool, you have the option to migrate storage simultaneously, that resides on multiple systems, towards new targets present on-premises or in Azure.

Storage Migration Service is able to handle the most common problems that you may have when you are faced with storage migrations, including: file in use, share settings, security settings, network names and addresses, local security principals and encrypted data. All these operations are easily managed from an intuitive graphical interface, that masks the robust necessary automations, based on PowerShell.

In order to manage Storage Migration Service from Windows Admin Center is necessary to install a specific extension in preview.

Figure 3 - Installation in Windows Admin Center of the SMS Extension

After adding the Extension you will be able to create new migration jobs.

Figure 4 - Adding a SMS job

Storage Migration Service allows to approach the storage migration procedure in 3 different phases:

  1. Inventory existing servers (source), in order to retrieve information about the data, its security, SMB shares and network settings.

Figure 5 – Inventory phase


  1. Migration, through the SMB protocol, of the data, of the security and of the network settings to a new system (target).

Figure 6 – Transfer phase

  1. Identity management, by making the decommissioning of the old source, in order to make the migration transparent to users and applications, and without generating inefficiencies. At this stage the identity will be transferred to the new server, managing your network settings, the join to the domain and the rename of the source server. This phase, defined Cutover, today (may 2018) is not yet available to the public.


Storage Migration Server is a new tool present in Windows Server 2019, still under full development, which will be enhanced in future releases with innovative features. The potential shown is really interesting and certainly in the future will be a service widely used to easily deal with the migration of content from obsolete platforms , thus allowing their disposal. For those wishing to test the latest new features about Windows Server 2019 can participate in the program Windows Insider. Please remember that the preview of Windows Server 2019 and Storage Migration Service are not officially supported in production environments.

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