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StarWind HyperConverged Appliance OverviewUNIXBusinessApplication

StarWind HyperConverged Appliance is #3 ranked solution in top Software Defined Storage (SDS) tools and #6 ranked solution in HCI Software. PeerSpot users give StarWind HyperConverged Appliance an average rating of 10 out of 10. StarWind HyperConverged Appliance is most commonly compared to Nutanix Acropolis AOS: StarWind HyperConverged Appliance vs Nutanix Acropolis AOS. StarWind HyperConverged Appliance is popular among the large enterprise segment, accounting for 44% of users researching this solution on PeerSpot. The top industry researching this solution are professionals from a comms service provider, accounting for 28% of all views.
StarWind HyperConverged Appliance Buyer's Guide

Download the StarWind HyperConverged Appliance Buyer's Guide including reviews and more. Updated: June 2022

What is StarWind HyperConverged Appliance?

For SMB, ROBO and Enterprises, who look to bring in quick deployment and operation simplicity to virtualization workloads and reduce related expenses, our solution is StarWind HyperConverged Appliance (HCA). It unifies commodity servers, disks and flash, hypervisor of choice, StarWind Virtual SAN, Microsoft Storage Spaces Direct or VMware Virtual SAN and associated software into a single manageable layer. The HCA supports scale-up by adding disks and flash, and scale-out by adding extra nodes.

StarWind HyperConverged Appliance consists of StarWind Virtual SAN, Microsoft Storage Spaces Direct or VMware Virtual SAN “Ready Nodes”, targeting those, who are building their virtualization infrastructure from scratch. In case there is an existing set of servers, we offer a “software only version”, which is essentially our years proven StarWind Virtual SAN. Basically, it’s the fuel powering StarWind HCA. 

StarWind HyperConverged Appliance Customers

Sears Home and Franchise Business

StarWind HyperConverged Appliance Video

StarWind HyperConverged Appliance Pricing Advice

What users are saying about StarWind HyperConverged Appliance pricing:
"We didn't have any issue with pricing or any of the sales process."

StarWind HyperConverged Appliance Reviews

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I.T. Manager at a real estate/law firm with 201-500 employees
Real User
Top 20
Flexible and easy to set up with excellent support
Pros and Cons
  • "The initial setup seems to be very straightforward."
  • "We have to pay for support, which is high-end support. That can be expensive, at least for us."

What is our primary use case?

We primarily use the solution just for redundancy. It provides higher redundancy options so that if the server goes down, the other one picks everything up.

How has it helped my organization?

The high availability has really benefited the organization so far. You don't need two separate servers. If something were to go wrong with one of the servers, it automatically brings the other server up. It's sort of having a production and a spare, and then when production goes down, you bring up your spare if it takes a bit of time. However, this process is automated. Basically, one goes down, the other one comes up. You don't even know, except via the fact that you get alerts. The servers are on and they are on continuously. Nothing is ever down.

What is most valuable?

It's flexible. There are so many other solutions that have got very specific requirements, like vSAN from VMware and Microsoft S2D. Those tend to be very specific in terms of their requirements. This is more flexible. We had two separate servers that were not the same spec and the ordered solutions required that at least these specs should be very close. We didn't want to go out and buy new servers. And so, in that sense, it's flexible. It can run without those strict restrictions that other ones have.It didn't require some of the high-end components, especially with regards to the NIC cards and the storage. In other cases, they require SSDs or a mix of SSDs and hard drives. In this case, it doesn't.  Basically, it's fairly flexible, and it wasn't expensive compared to the others. If we had gone with another option, it would have taken a lot more money in terms of getting what we wanted. The support is excellent. The UI is very good. I know that you have the option of not going with the UI and then just use the PowerShell-based admin options. However, the UI just adds another level of simplicity to the whole thing.  The sales guys are good. They tell you what you need and they don't oversell their product or anything like that. They tell you this is there, this is there. They are easy to talk to. I've had relations with them for quite some time. The solution is very scalable. The stability of the product is very good. The initial setup seems to be very straightforward. 

What needs improvement?

We have to pay for support, which is high-end support. That can be expensive, at least for us. It may not be that much for others. 
Buyer's Guide
StarWind HyperConverged Appliance
June 2022
Learn what your peers think about StarWind HyperConverged Appliance. Get advice and tips from experienced pros sharing their opinions. Updated: June 2022.
610,812 professionals have used our research since 2012.

For how long have I used the solution?

I've been using the solution for four or five years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

The solution is very stable. We've not had any issues with them. We've been using them for at least four years and we've not had any issues with them.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

It's very scalable. We are using it for two nodes, however, there's no reason for the product to not support three, four, or five nodes. You just have to scale in the number of VMs that you need and you just add more servers, really. We have about 100 users on the solution currently. We do not plan to increase usage. We do plan to move to the cloud. 

How are customer service and support?

Support is great. You can call them anytime if you have issues and they'll respond to you. They are easy to deal with. Sometimes they even let you know that "Hey, you need to do this and that."  Our servers are continuously monitored 24 hours/seven by them. That way we know when things are getting worse before they actually get worse and before we are no longer able to react. We basically are able to know things before they go down and we can fix them.

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

We also use Microsoft as well.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup is easy. It's not overly difficult.  You only need one person to maintain the solution once it's up and running. Our network admin handles everything. 

What about the implementation team?

We had our engineers work with Starwind to implement it. It was very easy to work with them.

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

You can pay for support. If you decide to pay the extra amount for premium would depend on how critical your servers are and if the servers were to go down, how much you're going to lose compared to the cost of the service support. We don't have any licensing costs. The only thing, with a perpetual license, is that we do pay for the support.

What other advice do I have?

We're customers and end-users.  We tend to update the solution often. We try to use the latest version of the solution. In the future, we do plan to move to the cloud, and when that happens, we will no longer need this solution. It's a good product. It's reliable. The post-sales support services are great. This is a very flexible system, it works with basically any hardware. I'll definitely recommend it. What the others are doing is more expensive, and it can do everything with more flexibility and probably less cost. I'd rate the solution at a ten out of ten as it meets all of our requirements. 

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

On-premises
Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
Systems Engineer & Cloud Specialist at myCRECloud | Cloud Application Hosting
User
Exceptional support, easily duplicates VMs and helps manage infrastructure
Pros and Cons
  • "The StarWind array has greatly improved our workflow internally as it is quite easy to use and provides robust features that allow us to provide anything our clients need quickly and efficiently."
  • "The only issue we have seen is with the StarWind Server Manager. We have had to continually reboot the server in order to use it."

What is our primary use case?

We have a three-host clustered environment which is being used to host about 85 VMs. We have over 1TB of RAM and about 72TB of storage available. Since we are a cloud host provider, we needed a solution that would allow us to rapidly expand and support our ever-growing user base. It is extremely easy to spin up a server using StarWind Manager. It allows us to create a base image and quickly clone new VMs off that image. We have tons of storage space and we can easily add more resources to a VM on the fly. 

How has it helped my organization?

It improved our organization by providing us with more resources to allow us to grow our customer base. 

We were able to make a call and quickly get the assistance we needed and had a cluster built in no time. 

The StarWind array has greatly improved our workflow internally as it is quite easy to use and provides robust features that allow us to provide anything our clients need quickly and efficiently. 

The best part is the ability to fail VMs over quickly and hassle-free. It is extremely easy to make any changes and modifications.

What is most valuable?

The best feature is the StarWind Manager. It allows us to easily duplicate VMs and manage the infrastructure. Hyper-V is a little clunky, so their software allows for a more friendly interface and easier to manage your servers. 

Another feature I like is the ability to quickly failover in the event of any issues with the three hosts in the cluster. We have had small instances where we need to either perform maintenance on one of the three hosts, or one of the hosts is having an issue. When that is the case, we can quickly drain the roles and force all VMs off that host. 

What needs improvement?

The only issue we have seen is with the StarWind Server Manager. We have had to continually reboot the server in order to use it. This can be frustrating at times when you want to quickly log in and make changes on the fly. I wish there was a way to make the server more stable so that we don't have to perform a reboot every time. 

Honestly, we do not have too many complaints. The best part about StarWind is the customer support. 

The guys on the team are great and have been willing to work with me at any time of the day as well as on the weekends. 

For how long have I used the solution?

I've used the solution for two years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

The product is extremely stable. We have only had issues from external sources, for example, our Data Center losing power. Whenever you lose power to a SAN, you run the risk of data corruption. Once we got the power back on, the support team was ready to help get our environment back online. They were able to get all the shared storage synced and vm's started again. To no fault of theirs a couple of our vm's had data corruption on the OS level, however that is the extent of the damage. We were able to restore the vm's from backup and were right back to productivity. Meanwhile we noticed other people in different racks had terrible issues with their SAN's. Some people had complete and total data loss, while others were unable to get their environments to boot. Those people were at a total loss. This is why I was so happy to see how quickly we were able to get back online and get back to production. Between the durability of the cluster and the excellent support, we were back up and running in no time.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

This is a great solution that offers robust scaling options.

How are customer service and support?

Customer service goes above and beyond to help you. I've never dealt with a more capable team in my years of doing IT.

How would you rate customer service and support?

Positive

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

We used VMware and we switched in order to find another solution that was more cost-effective and just as robust.

How was the initial setup?

It was straightforward to set up as the support team got us up and running very quickly.

What about the implementation team?

We implemented it through an in-house team and their level of expertise is exceptional.

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

I advise users to trust the sales team as they will help point you in the right direction as far as your needs.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We only evaluated our history with VMware and decided to make the switch.

What other advice do I have?

Everyone on the support team and all of their efforts has been great. I know that some of the workers are from Ukraine and my heart goes out to them. I am praying for them and their families. 

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

Private Cloud

If public cloud, private cloud, or hybrid cloud, which cloud provider do you use?

Other
Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
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Buyer's Guide
StarWind HyperConverged Appliance
June 2022
Learn what your peers think about StarWind HyperConverged Appliance. Get advice and tips from experienced pros sharing their opinions. Updated: June 2022.
610,812 professionals have used our research since 2012.
Carl Marshall - PeerSpot reviewer
Network Administrator at Winchester Utility System
User
Top 20
Offers a failover cluster which combines storage, network, and compute resources in a single package
Pros and Cons
  • "It did not hurt that the price for the hardware and three years of support cost less than the disparate hardware the cluster used to run on."
  • "CSVs require the storage to be configured through iSCSI, even though the storage is local."

What is our primary use case?

We purchased two of these appliances to replace a three-node Hyper-V cluster on Dell blade servers/MXL blade switches with a VNXe3200 as storage. We were able to replace our entire M1000e enclosure and greatly simplified our (admittedly humble) infrastructure. Change from iSCSI over 1GB to local storage was also welcome. These two appliances now house 100% of our VMs and are a breeze to maintain. On-boarding was well supported. We were able to rack, configure, and start migrating Hyper-V VMs in less than a week. 

How has it helped my organization?

These appliances have been great for our Failover Cluster, combining storage, network, and compute resources in a single package. StarWind's Virtual SAN software replicates storage in the background, letting each node in the cluster use its own local storage instead of having to create an actual storage network. The ease between setting up the HCA appliances and my previous setup is significant, as is ongoing maintenance.

StarWind also offers ProActive Support that remotely monitors the appliances and automatically opens a ticket and initiates contact when a problem is discovered. As the only IT employee here, it's been pretty great.

It did not hurt that the price for the hardware and three years of support cost less than the disparate hardware the cluster used to run on. End users are also pleased with the noticeable performance increase from switching to local storage from 1GB ethernet.

What is most valuable?

Surprisingly, it's the support that's been most helpful. I'm a one-person IT department. I have monitoring in place, however, I need to sleep sometimes. There were issues with our backup software early on that resulted in VMs failing. I'm not going into detail as the issue was with the backup software, not the HCAs. 

I woke up to detailed emails that let me know what had happened, along with event logs and explanations about why it happened. Even though the issue was with the backup software, they were still invaluable in solving the issue.

What needs improvement?

CSVs require the storage to be configured through iSCSI, even though the storage is local. It imparts a small performance hit that's easily overshadowed by the performance increase from getting off 1GB ethernet.

The Virtual SAN setup also requires more actual storage than a traditional SAN. My two-node cluster means I need double the amount of physical storage before any RAID is taken into account. A two-node cluster with RAID 1 means one-quarter of the storage you purchase is available.

Even though the support was great, getting the same email three to four mornings a week with the same issue got a little disheartening. 

For how long have I used the solution?

I've used the solution for just shy of one year.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

I've had zero issues with the appliances with anything other than our backup software.

Edit: I've been asked to clarify this. I had an issue with our backup software that was 100% on them. The errors involved VSS and a CBT driver that needed reinstalling. It was a little annoying getting emails every morning from ProActive Support while I got it straightened out, but the issue was between Windows and my backup/DR solution. 

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

We're small and will likely not have to worry about any serious upscaling in the near future, however, it would be very simple to throw more appliances into the cluster should we need to.

How are customer service and support?

They've always been knowledgeable and friendly.

How would you rate customer service and support?

Positive

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

We used Dell blade servers/switches with a VNXe3200 SAN. They worked fine, however, the few times something went wrong it made tracking down the issue more difficult. There were also no single administration tools that handled all three hardware systems.

How was the initial setup?

On-boarding was heavily guided. Once racked, powered on, and joined to the domain, they helped with the rest.

What about the implementation team?

We had the help of a vendor team, and they were very efficient. I was up and running quickly.

What was our ROI?

I have no idea. I'm here to work with technology, not accounting.

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

We provided our own Windows Server Datacenter licenses. We have a state contract and get them at a reduced rate. I'm sure our reseller would have been happy to include them on the quote as well, though. The software does have ongoing costs for maintenance/support.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We did not look at other options, really. These fit my needs perfectly and were affordable. Had I more time/resources at my disposal, I probably would have sought out other options. In this case, these appliances fit my needs. 

What other advice do I have?

These appliances are probably the best hardware decision I've made in my decade employed here.

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

On-premises
Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
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Director of IT at a computer software company with 201-500 employees
Real User
Top 10
Easy to deploy and manage with great proactive support
Pros and Cons
  • "With proactive support, StarWind deploys and configures the solution for you."
  • "The monitoring and reporting console can be improved in the sense that it can have more information on it."

What is our primary use case?

The product is used to host windows virtual machines. We have various workloads hosted on this environment, from file servers, AD, DNS servers, and IIS servers to SQL databases. We run dozens of production virtual machines on this solution, and use Veeam Backup to backup all the workloads on it. 

It's a Microsoft Failover Cluster with StarWind storage added as CSV disks. The solutions can be managed via the Hyper-V console, Failover Manager or StarWind console. On the physical side, we have 10GB switches for the management, live migration and cluster communication and physically separate 10GB switches for the storage communication. Storage communication happens over the iSCSI protocol.

How has it helped my organization?

It has improved our performance and the support/time required to manage and maintain the HCI solution. It's an all-flash storage subsystem which provides really good disk read/write I/O and law latency. 

With proactive support, StarWind deploys and configures the solution for you. They also help you to migrate any workloads/VMs from the existing solution that StarWind is replacement for. 

They do proactive monitoring so if they see any issues like disk being in predictive failure or some lag/error on the solution they will reach out to you/call you proactively and will fix the issue for you.

What is most valuable?

It's very easy to deploy and manage. 

I like the idea that the storage is virtualized and that StarWind is a software company with a product that can be installed on any hardware you want/prefer. It will work with any networking equipment you have. 

Their proactive support is great and just offloads the whole management of the hardware/software of the HCI for you. The updates to the new versions are very easy and straightforward. Best of all, it's done by StarWind support engineers so you don't have to worry about it.

What needs improvement?

The monitoring and reporting console can be improved in the sense that it can have more information on it. 

Granted, StarWind takes care of the monitoring/maintenance. However, as an end-user, it would be nice if, when you login to their console, you could be able to see information about the underlying hardware and how the cluster is performing. 

It would be nice if they created hardware integration packages for various hardware OEMs such as Dell, HPE, Lenovo, etc., so you can manage the hardware via the StarWind console and be able to run firmware updates.

For how long have I used the solution?

I've used the solution for more than three years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

The solutions is very stable. StarWind have proactive monitoring so if they see any issues they will call you and will work on the resolution.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

Solution is very scalable. Its easy to add more nodes and StarWind support will usually pre-configure and add them to the cluster.

How are customer service and support?

StarWind support is excellent. They are very knowledgeable and thorough. 

How would you rate customer service and support?

Positive

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

We used a Microsoft Failover Cluster created on Dell servers and using Software Defined Storage (Open-E).  The storage communication was via iSCSI on 10GB network switches and the cluster, live migration and cluster communication was on a different VLAN. 

How was the initial setup?

Its was very easy and straightforward. StarWind will ask you information about your switches, uplinks, IP addresses, domain name etc so they can configure the solution

What about the implementation team?

It was via the StarWind team.

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

The setup is done from StarWind. It's easy and fast and therefore there is nothing to worry about there. You just need to provide them with some information such as IP addresses, subnet, DNS server, AD name, etc. 

On the cost side, StarWind is a really cost-effective solution. It costs a fraction of what the big name HCI solutions cost yet provides similar performance and capability. 

On the licensing side, generally, the customer provides the licenses for the workloads that are running on the HCI solution. 

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We have evaluated other HCI solutions and Storage vendors such as Nimble Storage, Scale Computing, StorMangic, etc.

What other advice do I have?

It's a great solution. You can set it up and forget it and is the kind of HCI where all the management and maintenance is done by StarWind support so you don't really have to do too much on a day-to-day basis. 

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

On-premises
Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
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Systems Engineer / Systems Administrator
User
Great redundancy with a lower rack space footprint and helpful technical support
Pros and Cons
  • "The solution has provided our company with a fully redundant virtual environment at half the cost of a traditional SAN implementation."
  • "The only issue we have had was the issue of performance, however, that is only due to the fact that we purchased a mix of SSD and regular spindle drives, and restoring databases was slow as it was trying to restore the database using the spindle drives."

What is our primary use case?

We use the solution as a virtual file server and Active Directory domain controller for the corporate office and virtual development and technical support environments for our developers and technical support staff for the timesheet software we develop in-house at our corporate office. 

We have an office space of about 30 employees, a mix of corporate and company employees. We currently have two HCAs in a rack cabinet in our server room, and, with the HCAs, there are no network switches required to support the SAN.

How has it helped my organization?

The solution has provided our company with a fully redundant virtual environment at half the cost of a traditional SAN implementation. Previously, we had the traditional SAN environment of 2-3 virtual hosts, 2 SAN switches for iSCSI, and then one storage array/server (all Dell hardware). The problem was the single point of failure (SPoF) at the bottom, which was the one storage server. Due to the cost, we could only afford one storage server, however, this meant we had a completely fully redundant SAN solution at half the cost and rack space footprint.

What is most valuable?

The redundancy, lower rack space footprint (no switches are needed for the SAN), and ease of management are the most valuable aspects of the product. At the same time, the technical support staff has been one of the most knowledgeable that I have ever seen. I purchased the support package where StarWind Support will support every aspect of the HCA - the virtual hosts/hardware, StarWind Software, and VMware vSphere/ESXi server software. The ease of installation was a plus and it was very easy to understand the concepts of the HCAs and the StarWind software.

What needs improvement?

For our use case, I seriously can't think of anything missing. For us, it's a set it and forget it kind of use. For us it improves our redundancy issues and the maintenance of the HyperConverged Appliances is next to nothing. 

The only issue we have had was the issue of performance, however, that is only due to the fact that we purchased a mix of SSD and regular spindle drives and restoring databases was slow as it was trying to restore the database using the spindle drives. Next time around, we will purchase all SSD drives which will resolve the issue.

For how long have I used the solution?

I've been using the solution for two and a half years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

In the 2.5 years we have had our HCAs, I have had not one issue with stability and it primarily just works right out of the box.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

You can scale the HCAs by adding more CPUs, memory, network ports, and when needed, adding another node.

How are customer service and support?

Customer service/support is outstanding. All the guys that I have spoken with were highly professional, friendly, helpful, and knowledgeable. With the Support level I signed up for, I only have to contact StarWind support for any issues I have with the virtual host hardware, the StarWind software, or the VMware hypervisor.

How would you rate customer service and support?

Positive

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

We used the Dell Compellent and EqualLogics which are highly expensive, so much so that we could only afford just one storage server in each environment which made them single points of failure, with no redundancy of the storage systems.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup was easy and straightforward right out of the box with little help needed from StarWind Support. We were able to get it all up and running in two to five hours.

What about the implementation team?

The implementation was handled in-house with just me, one person, with a little guidance from StarWind Support.

What was our ROI?

There is a cost-saving in regards to the hardware and implementation itself. The time saved in having to manage the software itself also provides an ROI.

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

The setup cost is minimum (and very easy) and the price is usually half the cost of traditional SAN implementations. Licensing only pertains to the hypervisor and server OS that the StarWind SAN software will reside on.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We looked at Nutanix, Dell Compellent, EqualLogic, VMware ReadyNodes, and Scale Computing.

What other advice do I have?

For us, the StarWind HCAs almost works right out of the box and help me sleep at night knowing that we have a fully redundant SAN implementation.

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

On-premises
Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
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Dan Reynolds - PeerSpot reviewer
Director of IT at BLDD ARCHITECTS INC
Real User
Top 5
Great management console, good support, and great performance
Pros and Cons
  • "I do like that I can manage StarWind with a console running on my local desktop."
  • "Although the setup documentation was very complete and succinct, I found StarWind documentation to be a bit sparse."

What is our primary use case?

This is used for a two-node VMware Horizon View Cluster. This cluster supports our VMware Horizon View environment. We are a smaller environment supporting about 65-70 users. This disk is all SSD. We support a variety of users from typical office production staff to CAD, Adobe, and some light 3D work. So far the users have been pleased with the performance, even with Adobe products - which is saying something. 

We have a small on-site data center. All files and prints are on HP DL-380s with HP and Meraki networking. 

How has it helped my organization?

This was at a hardware refresh. I was replacing the old three-node cluster with a two-node cluster and going from discrete software/hardware to a Hyper-Converged Appliance. Obviously, the performance was outstanding, however, at a hardware refresh, it better be!

I have noticed a definite increase in performance all around. I would say we were most limited in our previous cluster by disk. There just is no comparison to SSD

Even with that said, the HCA screams. I've very satisfied. Install, setup and migrations were foolproof. I love that it's being monitored 24/7. I have previous experience with StarWind support and I know it is excellent. 

What is most valuable?

Having already been familiar with StarWind there really weren't any big surprises but SSD will always be faster than spinning disk of course. I do like that I can manage StarWind with a console running on my local desktop. There is not a lot of management that needs to be done but it's nice not having to go to the Windows server running StarWind, since it is all running on an "appliance" now. I also appreciated the way support walks you through all the startup and migration phases. I appreciated that they were always there to assist and instruct.

What needs improvement?

My only two cons are sort of minor and one definitely biased towards my taste in hardware vendors. The first "con" is that the hardware is Dell. I much prefer HP servers. I have had a much better experience with HP than with Dell. As I said that's just my preference. Since the hardware is a covered item I can't complain too much. I really don't have much to deal with.

Although the setup documentation was very complete and succinct, I found StarWind documentation to be a bit sparse. Not a lot of this is how this all works type of documentation. Not much on the way of reference. It is totally supported so I guess I can't complain too much. 

For how long have I used the solution?

I have been using the HCA for four months but have been using StarWind for several years. 

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

StarWind from my experience is extremely stable. I have used the StarWind VSAN product for several years and other than self-inflicted issues it has been rock solid. I expect the HCA to be even more stable since it is all "in the box".  It has been the best storage solution I have used with VMware. I have used a variety of SANs previously. The whole virtualized SAN concept, I believe, is the smarter choice technology wise. With a smaller environment as we have, two node cluster, it makes more sense and is cheaper than VMware's VSAN product. 

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

It is highly scalable. Fortunately, we are on the lower-end side of scaling. 

How are customer service and support?

They offer some of the best customer support I've ever had.

How would you rate customer service and support?

Positive

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

I used StarWind vSAN on my own hardware. I switched as it made more sense all the way around. It comes mostly set up and ready to go.

How was the initial setup?

The setup was simple. They will set up your nodes ahead of time. Then, they walk you through the rest of the process.

What about the implementation team?

I did the in-house part and they supported all the rest.

What was our ROI?

Our ROI is unknown.

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

I liked that there were no surprises. The costs were all conclusive and included everything that I needed, including migration assistance. 

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

I was already very satisfied with StarWind vSAN.

What other advice do I have?

I thoroughly recommend this product. I wouldn't hesitate to chose it again. 

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

On-premises
Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
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PeerSpot user
Network and Information Systems Engineer at a financial services firm with 1,001-5,000 employees
Real User
Straightforward to set up, reduces our physical server footprint, and provides almost 100% uptime
Pros and Cons
  • "Live migration between nodes was quick and simple."
  • "Perhaps the initial configuration and documentation could be a little clearer and simpler to follow."

What is our primary use case?

We were looking to replace a large amount of older physical servers and move to a smaller footprint with a lot more virtualized systems. We also wanted to be able to increase the uptime of our server by being able to failover between nodes. 

We had all our eggs in one basket - a single powerful Hyper-V server running VMs which ran our business systems and customer systems. If that machine had died our business would've died. We implemented HCA and were then able to load balance and have resiliency for all of our systems across the infrastructure estate. 

We initially ran with a demo system, a couple of older servers with some high-speed network cards configured using the Starwind software - which was provided as a demonstration even with some technical support for a number of months, so that we could try the system out. 

We had some very niche bespoke software that we provided to the recruitment industry, which in turn used some bespoke indexing and categorizing software that was very picky on how it runs. Starwind amazed us by being able to host this bespoke software on the HCA and failover between nodes with Live Migrate without any issues whatsoever.

How has it helped my organization?

Starwind HCA allowed us to provide customers with a much higher service level. We could guarantee 99.999% uptime. Previously, we were not confident enough to offer this. 

We were able to reduce the footprint of our physical servers in the datacentre, by virtualizing most of them and running them as VMs on the HCA. We were therefore able to reduce costs in the datacentre.

We also had peace of mind in that we were able to retire a lot of older hardware and consolidate on to brand new powerful hardware. 

It also looked fantastic in the data center.

What is most valuable?

Live migration between nodes was quick and simple. The management interface was clean and intuitive. The system ran with no issues whatsoever, it never had any problems.

It was able to run all of our VMs without struggling one bit.

We were able to run Hyper-v and Failover Cluster Manager. Therefore we already knew how to use these, being Microsoft certified engineers. These fit easily on top of Starwind, in fact, the Starwind software is pretty much invisible in the background, running cleanly underneath the Hyper-V and Failover Cluster Manager.

What needs improvement?

Perhaps the initial configuration and documentation could be a little clearer and simpler to follow. It is a little fiddly and easy to make mistakes. I remember that I had to follow the instructions very carefully during the initial setup.

Also what is slightly disappointing, although understandable, is that the demo/free version of Starwind vSAN reverts to "command line only" and limits access to the GUI when the trial license runs out. Perhaps this license time limit could be extended to allow further evaluation time.

For how long have I used the solution?

We have used the solution for four years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

The solution's stability is absolutely faultless.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

From what I understand, it can be scaled up and out as required - although we never needed to do this. Scale up by adding more RAM, more CPU and more disks. Scale out by adding more HCA nodes. If we had more budget we would've added more RAM to the nodes, or added an additional node when we initially bought the system.

How are customer service and support?

Technical support is absolutely fantastic, always eager to help, and technical support was fast and concise.

How would you rate customer service and support?

Positive

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup is straightforward, although it is a little fiddly and tricky to follow. It's best to implement this when you can't be interrupted.

What about the implementation team?

We handled the implementation in-house.

What was our ROI?

We saved a lot of money by reducing the data center footprint by half.

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

This is the best value HCA available. 

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We also looked at Nutanix and HPE Simplivity.

What other advice do I have?

If you are looking for an HCA solution and other vendors are proving excessively expensive, I would advise companies then take a look at Starwind instead.

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

On-premises
Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
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reviewer1462674 - PeerSpot reviewer
Senior Network Engineer at inSync Computer Solutions
Real User
Top 10
Increased performance, proactive support, and the redundancy gives us a good sense of security
Pros and Cons
  • "The full suite of redundancy gives a nice sense of security for the whole environment."
  • "I think some performance metrics would be nice to see, especially on the storage side."

What is our primary use case?

We used this solution to upgrade a bunch of old stand-alone servers to a cluster. There were at least eight different servers, some up to ten years old, running production loads on Hyper-V. Since everything worked, it was hard to get budget approval. Finally, we got someone to listen and we were able to get momentum on this project.

We got the three-node cluster in, and moving everything over was easy with no downtime to the approximately 400 users. Now that everything is on a cluster, the redundancy helps IT sleep at night. We have had to do some maintenance and there has been no interruption. 

How has it helped my organization?

Our environment went from a hodge-podge of Hyper-V servers of various ages and capacities to a simple-to-manage three-node cluster. The three nodes are interconnected, so we didn't even have to invest in additional network infrastructure.

There is redundancy, so if one node has an issue, the users have no idea and everything stays functional! There is a noted increase in speed both on the production loads as well as the backup (Veeam) being much easier to manage and running significantly faster.

Power consumption is down, so there was less need for UPS capacity and cooling as well. 

What is most valuable?

The configuration we purchased was built on Hyper-V, so there was no additional training for staff. The rest of the management tools are on Windows, so anyone with a little bit of IT background should be able to figure it out.

The full suite of redundancy gives a nice sense of security for the whole environment. Support has been stellar and we're notified of an issue before we even knew about it. We worked with support to get parts replaced and delivered the next business day and there was no downtime to the users!

What needs improvement?

I think some performance metrics would be nice to see, especially on the storage side. Since we have a decent amount of storage on our cluster, 80TB, knowing what our IOPS and typical usage is would be handy. There are times where something 'feels' slow so it would be nice what was happening on the storage side.

I do wish that if we needed more compute capacity, that we could do it without needing to invest in a lot of network equipment. That is hardly StarWind's fault, but just something to think about. 

For how long have I used the solution?

We have been using the StarWind HyperConverged Appliance for between six and nine months.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

If we had smaller needs, the amount of expansion would have been more. We went fairly large since we only get money once in a blue moon. There is some additional storage scalability, although not a ton.

We can add plenty of RAM. If we wanted more CPU then sure, those could be replaced! 

How are customer service and technical support?

We had one issue with a part failing, and we were informed by support before we even knew. The part and on-site engineer was dispatched. It was a redundant part, so there was no impact on anything. Nice to know they are all over it!

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

Nothing in the HCA realm, just stand-alone Hyper-V machines. 

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup was very easy. Support ran through everything remotely and we were up in a few hours. It was nothing we probably could not have done ourselves, but it was nice to have an expert do it and have it up. 

What about the implementation team?

We implemented purely in-house.

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

We didn't have any issue with pricing or any of the sales process. If anything, we were difficult with changing what we wanted to include on the HCA all the time. Sales rolled with us without any issue. 

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We did look at moving hypervisors and HCA platforms but passed because the amount of change to management would have been a lot for the current staff.

What other advice do I have?

We are very happy and the number of incidents and stress has been greatly reduced. 

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

On-premises
Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
Buyer's Guide
Download our free StarWind HyperConverged Appliance Report and get advice and tips from experienced pros sharing their opinions.
Updated: June 2022
Buyer's Guide
Download our free StarWind HyperConverged Appliance Report and get advice and tips from experienced pros sharing their opinions.