In Windows 8 and Windows Server 2012, we have introduced the Storage Management API (SMAPI), as a means for managing local and array-based storage. SMAPI supersedes the Virtual Disk Service (VDS), which was the previous interface for managing storage in Windows. However legacy VDS tools such as Disk Management and DiskPart are still in the product.
Just as the VDS service utilized the notion of VDS Hardware Providers which were provided by an array vendor to manage storage, the SMAPI utilizes Storage Management Providers (SMPs) as an interface for managing storage.
For host-specific storage objects (Disk, Partition, Volume), the management API allows managing resources with no additional drivers required.
For provider-specific objects (PhysicalDisk, Storage Pool, Virtual Disk, Storage Provider, Storage Subsystem), a Storage Management Provider is required. In the case of Storage Spaces, a SMP is provided in Windows for use with Storage Spaces. For management of 3rd-party arrays, a vendor-provided SMP is required.
More information can be found in the blog, An Introduction to Storage Management in Windows Server 2012