StarWind Virtual SAN OverviewUNIXBusinessApplication

StarWind Virtual SAN is the #2 ranked solution in top Software Defined Storage (SDS) tools and #4 ranked solution in HCI Software. PeerSpot users give StarWind Virtual SAN an average rating of 9.6 out of 10. StarWind Virtual SAN is most commonly compared to VMware vSAN: StarWind Virtual SAN vs VMware vSAN. StarWind Virtual SAN is popular among the large enterprise segment, accounting for 57% of users researching this solution on PeerSpot. The top industry researching this solution are professionals from a computer software company, accounting for 19% of all views.
StarWind Virtual SAN Buyer's Guide

Download the StarWind Virtual SAN Buyer's Guide including reviews and more. Updated: November 2022

What is StarWind Virtual SAN?

For SMB, ROBO, Cloud and Hosting providers, who look to cut down virtualization expenses, our solution is StarWind VSAN. It is software that eliminates any need in physical shared storage by basically “mirroring” internal hard disks and flash between hypervisor servers. There is less hardware to buy in general, consequently less money is spent on purchase and maintenance. The existing hardware is used with maximum efficiency, so there is no money wasted at all.

StarWind Virtual SAN targets those who already have servers, or are bound to a particular vendor list to buy from. In case there is a new virtualization infrastructure to be built from scratch, StarWind offers a much better way – StarWind HyperConverged Appliance. It is a turnkey solution complete with hardware and software, powered by StarWind Virtual SAN. Those who need to build and maintain virtualization infrastructure at little to no expense, may be interested in StarWind Virtual SAN Free.

StarWind Virtual SAN Customers

Baker Tilly BVI, CMS Internet, Board Harpeth Hall School

StarWind Virtual SAN Video

StarWind Virtual SAN Pricing Advice

What users are saying about StarWind Virtual SAN pricing:
"The cost was ultimately low to implement, which allowed us to be 3-2-1 complaint."

StarWind Virtual SAN Reviews

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MIT - PeerSpot reviewer
IT System Administrator at Ludwig Meyer GmbH & Co. KG
User
Top 10
Easy to set up and maintain with good performance capabilities
Pros and Cons
  • "The install itself is easy as pie."
  • "Feature-wise we are only waiting for the release of a "planned disaster" feature that would allow us to patch a hypervisor node without having to take the full storage offline."

What is our primary use case?

We use the solution for HA storage for HVs.

We are an SMB that can't be bothered paying tens of thousands of dollars just to get a proper HA storage for a two node failover cluster. Therefore StarWind's vSAN was financially attractive from the start.

The reviews you can find all over the web incentivised us to research this solution deeper (e.g. just check all the great posts vom Kooler on Stackoverflow), leading to us actually implementing it.

We were coming from an S2D implementation which already gave us a ridiculous amount of headaches (bugs, performance stalls, "we know what's best for you" automatisms) in addition to being slow and annoying to administrate/debug while also having the most annoying documentation ever to be created by mankind. These solutions rush out some code and ship it and never fix anything (but break it every few weeks with patches).

The initial tests were easily implementable (without begging some sales folks for a POC, due to a free version being available) as well as proper documentation that you actually like to read due to it having been typed by a tech (and that also isn't behind a pay/registration wall).

As close to perfect as the documentation is, do read the blog posts to the two-node HA setup as well. Some minute details were only found in those.
There are no showstoppers, and not many things in general, just a few hints here and there.

The install itself is easy as pie. The config file is properly documented (you can do most things via GUI, just some things are set in the main config file).

Do help yourself to the iSCSI Powershell commands (Windows defaults from MS) when implementing. It is way more attractive than clicking via GUI.
(New-IscsiTargetPortal, Connect-IscsiTarget etc.)

Some things must be done via GUI though, since iSCSI has been implemented way back and "making scripting available" wasn't that widespread for developers back then. This being a Microsoft topic, not StarWind though. They would have had to make their very own iSCSI implementation otherwise.

For testing, you should use a proper tool like https://docs.microsoft.com/en-...
since "Windows copy from within the VM running on the test setup" can be flakey.
Not as in "the results aren't valid real world performance if you check with the Windows copy within a VM" but rather "non-scientific" since you can't extract much data from that process aside from size/time.

There is a visual bug with a specific part of iSCSI. It's Microsoft's fault, and, as usual, has never been fixed in over 15 years. Just don't panic if you experience it.
https://www.dell.com/support/k...
https://social.technet.microso...

How has it helped my organization?

Price-wise this is very attractive. The support is great (little that we needed due to the good docs) and I would expect you to reach a very good performance just like we did.

The next-best solution from my research back then - that you would actually want to use, so no S2D or anything - would have started at 7X or 8X the price. Since StarWind's solution has served us very well over the last two years already, I would recommend it.

To respond to the "how it has improved our organization," in a nutshell: it has provided very stable and performant storage-level HA which allows for live failover of VMs (as long as the compute doesn't die as well).

What is most valuable?

We like the ability to be installed and used on the same host, so we get the max performance possible.

It is easy to set up and maintain, resulting in a happy admin and low TCO/good ROI.

It offers good performance and stability and also makes for a happy admin.

It provides HA for our failover cluster storage where anything can go wrong up until compute, the thing still chugs along like nothing ever happened.

The upgrades are also very easy to implement. It's basically "click click click" once everything has been shut down and you're back up really quickly.

What needs improvement?

Feature-wise we are only waiting for the release of a "planned disaster" feature that would allow us to patch a hypervisor node without having to take the full storage offline.

ATM (20220609) is still necessary, since taking a node offline without properly activating the maintenance mode on the vSAN would trigger a full sync of the vSAN nodes.

This is fine and a good thing since it ensures data integrity. However, there is something in the making that would ensure integrity without a full sync after a node goes down, which, as stated above, one could "abuse" to patch (and boot = take down) the hypervisors during business hours 😁

Other than that, the thing is rock stable and chugging along without issues.
We are an SMB so we "only" have around 50 VMs on our FO cluster, which is a medium load for SSDs.

If you plan to go more to the "max" side of performance use, do proper testing!

Buyer's Guide
StarWind Virtual SAN
November 2022
Learn what your peers think about StarWind Virtual SAN. Get advice and tips from experienced pros sharing their opinions. Updated: November 2022.
656,862 professionals have used our research since 2012.

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?

It's rock-stable.

So far, we only had visual issues in a specific place due to Microsoft being a PITA and never fixing any bugs they bring in (this one being over 15 years old).

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

It scales very easily.

Depending on your setup, their actual SAN might be a better fit for you, however, that's for your very specific case to decide.

How are customer service and support?

We really only had contacted the support for the final checkup after setting it up ourselves, so that they could verify everything is running as it is supposed to.

That was great, so our experience has been great overall.

How would you rate customer service and support?

Positive

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

We previously used Microsoft S2D. It had bad documentation, offered bad performance, and had bad GUI and bad CLI.

How was the initial setup?

The setup is very easy, and they offer very nice documentation and blog posts.

What about the implementation team?

We did the implementation all in-house, self-taught by their great docs.

What was our ROI?

Since our HVs already run with Windows DC we had S2D included in the cost.

However, the operational costs were high. I'd easily say the invested time over a year with S2D would be $20-30K while StarWind's vSAN now took like $500-750 (yes, less than $1K!) over two years. 😎

Even if you add the license cost (which is cheap even with our 3-year premium support package) it is a no-brainer.

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

There is the "invisible" cost of you reading the docs, however, that comes with every solution. At least with StarWind, you have tech-to-tech documentation that you can actually use.

The pricing is very fair!

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We looked into VMware and others. They usually had a way higher cost or worse performance or worse GUI/documentation, or all of those things together.

What other advice do I have?

I'd advise others to use the free license to test it. The doc is also public. This is the way.

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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reviewer1667487 - PeerSpot reviewer
Senior Technical Architect at HS Data Ltd
User
Top 10
Flexible and easy to use with great support
Pros and Cons
  • "The solution is also quite flexible. As an example, other vSAN solutions that we looked at had more stringent requirements regarding mixed HDD/SSD storage which wouldn't have worked in our environment."
  • "The main thing I would like to see improved is the level of documentation."

What is our primary use case?

We needed a reliable shared storage solution for our VMware vSphere Essentials solution so we could implement vMotion and High Availability features. We decided to utilise a vSAN solution to reduce costs after looking at the price of external storage solutions.

In our environment, we have a 3-server VMware vSphere Essentials Plus solution that consists of 16 x HDD and 8 x SDD on-server storage. The solution is attached to 1GB network for production but we also have 10GB network connections available for direct-connectivity between servers.

The StarWind vSAN solution was implemented as a hyper-converged solution meaning that everything runs on the VMware vSphere solution. 

How has it helped my organization?

The StarWind vSAN solution was implemented according to our project plan with minimal outages to existing workloads. We have had no issues with the solution and it works very well with minimal administrative effort.

Recently, we had a memory failure that caused one of our VMware servers to crash. Due to the shared storage provided by the StarWind vSAN, all virtual machines on the failed server were able to failover to another server. Our helpdesk didn't receive any user complaints during the time that this happened. Once we resolved the issue, the shared storage resynched itself automatically.

We now have the ability to run critical workloads on the VMware infrastructure and have already proceeded to migrate active directory and SAP Business One workloads onto this platform.

What is most valuable?

We have found the solution surprisingly simple to use. The management console allows us to monitor the solution and we have configured email alerts to alert us about critical issues. These alerts have been proven to work in an actual failure scenario, for example, when we had a memory issue with one of our servers that caused the entire server to crash. The management console also allows us to monitor the solution performance and provides us with access to system logs.

The level of support provided by StarWind both during pre-sales and post-implementation has been excellent. The solution validation session with StarWind engineers was one of the best we have experienced and the vendor has also demonstrated a willingness to create a long-term relationship.

The solution is also quite flexible. As an example, other vSAN solutions that we looked at had more stringent requirements regarding mixed HDD/SSD storage which wouldn't have worked in our environment.

What needs improvement?

The main thing I would like to see improved is the level of documentation. I had some initial difficulties understanding the solution which could have been solved via additional documentation aimed at newcomers to their solution. Although the solution does admittedly have many moving parts, I found that internal knowledge transfer to my peers was not that difficult. Hence I'm convinced that better documentation would have helped.

I would also like to see a better system implemented for obtaining updates for solution components. The system at the moment works on a request/response model.

For how long have I used the solution?

We've been using this solution since the start of this year (2021).

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

The solution has proven to be reliable with the need for minimal administrative effort. During an actual failure with memory on one of our servers, everything worked exactly as planned. We didn't even receive any issues/complaints from users via our helpdesk.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

During the solution validation session with the vendor, we spoke about benchmarking the product. After performing the recommended tests, we were satisfied that the solution would meet our performance needs (both in terms of storage and networking).

How are customer service and technical support?

We haven't had any issues with the solution so have had no need to request service/technical support. However, our experience during our project makes us believe we are in good hands if we ever need anything in the future.

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

We did not use a different solution. We initially implemented our VMware vSphere Essentials solution using direct storage and didn't have access to features such as vMotion and high availability. The StarWind vSAN solution allowed us to implement shared storage and pave the way to migrate critical workloads onto the VMware infrastructure.

How was the initial setup?

We complicated the initial setup process a bit because we wanted to perform the design, implementation, and migration ourselves. This led to some difficulties in terms of initially understanding the solution. StarWind helped to fill in the gaps and our implementation and migration went completely to plan with little need for downtime. We were able to implement the solution on two servers while keeping our workloads running on the third server. We then migrated the workloads and built the remaining server.

What about the implementation team?

We wanted to perform the design, implementation, and migration of the solution ourselves. We asked for help where needed during the design stage and found the vendor was very knowledgeable and could quickly answer all of our questions. We performed the implementation ourselves and then conducted a solution validation session with the vendor. During this session, the vendor validated that everything was configured according to their best practices and also performed some advanced tuning. We also had an open-ended discussion about how to operate the system. This solution validation session was one of the best I have ever experienced.

The level of support from the vendor throughout the entire project has been excellent and they have been more than willing to develop a long-term relationship. 

What was our ROI?

We were price-sensitive and wanted to minimize expenditure on additional hardware. The ability to utilize vMotion and High Availability features in our VMware infrastructure has already repaid the cost of the solution.

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

We found the StarWind vSAN solution was cost-effective compared to alternatives. You should talk to the vendor (or a good partner) about your needs because there are some differences in price based on your environment. We also recommend purchasing support.

In our case, we purchased StarWind vSAN for vSphere Essentials Edition which included 1 year of standard annual support and maintenance.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We initially looked at several external shared storage solutions and found them to be cost-prohibitive. We then evaluated vSAN solutions from HPE (this was discontinued) and the native solution from VMware. The native solution from VMware had fewer moving parts than the StarWind vSAN solution, but was more expensive and didn't provide the required level of flexibility that we needed regarding mixed HDD/SDD storage.

What other advice do I have?

We strongly recommend that you develop a good relationship with the vendor (or a good partner). In our experience, they played a key role in the success of the solution.

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.
PeerSpot user
Buyer's Guide
StarWind Virtual SAN
November 2022
Learn what your peers think about StarWind Virtual SAN. Get advice and tips from experienced pros sharing their opinions. Updated: November 2022.
656,862 professionals have used our research since 2012.
Eren Cakmak - PeerSpot reviewer
IT Administrator at Kemmler Kemmler GmbH
Real User
Reliable with good performance and helpful customer support
Pros and Cons
  • "With an uptime of 384 days, StarWind has improved overall server reliability."
  • "While we had little to no issues in setting up StarWind and received excellent support from the StarWind technicians, we would have appreciated a clearer guideline for a setup with the free version of StarWind Management Console or, in other words - for the setup with the PowerShell."

What is our primary use case?

We use StarWind as redundant, reliable, and fast storage for our two-node cluster in a Hyperconverged Environment. The cluster is a cost-effective way to create a reliable and scalable environment by utilizing all the available hardware while keeping complexity to a minimum. 

StarWind serves as storage for our Hyper-V appliance, ranging from databases to fileservers, which are all critical for the company. The storage has a size of around 70 Terabytes, and all traffic is routed through a redundant switch stack of two units. 

How has it helped my organization?

StarWind's task is to provide a reliable, fast, and redundant storage solution for our virtual machines while keeping cost and complexity as low as possible. At the same time, it managed challenges in a two-node environment, such as the feared split-brain scenario. 

With an uptime of 384 days, StarWind has improved overall server reliability. Our downtime over the year went from two reboots a week for maintenance to zero (in combination with the cluster). 

Another improvement is the L1 and L2 cache, which boosts the overall performance of all VMs.

The overall biggest impact on the company, and especially the IT department, is the reduced time investment in maintaining the platform. StarWind has been a "set-up and forget" solution over the past year and already paid itself in the hours it has saved compared to the previous solution.

What is most valuable?

Three features were extremely important for us as a result of using StarWind since its setup:

Reliability and Maintainability. StarWind has been extremely reliable until now without any software-related downtime. Update-related reboots of the nodes were handled without any issues by StarWind and its Fast-Sync technology, which synchronizes data in the background without the need for a full sync.

Performance. Utilizing StarWind with its L1 and L2 Cache helped us boost a variety of file sizes, ranging from databases to renderings. Additionally, StarWind has a market-leading performance in throughput. Benchmarks in our environment showed a transfer of over 750 MB/s from a Windows Fileserver VM to a client device through a 10Gbit connection.

Community. The StarWind Customer Support was excellent, and it helped us clear any remaining questions regarding the setup. In our case, it was the setup of the SSD cache. A StarWind Technician offered us a personal support session with many follow-ups. 

What needs improvement?

While we had little to no issues in setting up StarWind and received excellent support from the StarWind technicians, we would have appreciated a clearer guideline for a setup with the free version of StarWind Management Console or, in other words - for the setup with the PowerShell.

Another thing we found out afterward is that StarWind offers several free software solutions to benefit the performance of server infrastructures. One of them is StarWind iSCSI Accelerator/Load Balancer. We would like to ask StarWind to give a more thorough implementation guideline for such free solutions during the setup of storage infrastructure.

For how long have I used the solution?

I've used the solution since May 2021.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

StarWind has been pretty much active for the past year without one error or failure. Server maintenance during office hours and the synchronization afterward have never been an issue. No corruption of the storage, no VM crash, nor split brain has occurred in our two-node setup up until now. The heartbeat interfaces are very reliable and show an error through the Management Console when they are down.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

One of the main reasons we bought StarWind was the scalability of the storage. We plan the storage in our Hyperconverged Infrastructure through the addition of storage arrays. Since we have bought the unlimited storage package from StarWind, we are confident that this task will not be an issue.

How are customer service and support?

The customer support was excellent. We initially opened a post on the official StarWind Support page and received a response from a StarWind technician within two hours. By the end of the week, we had a private support session with him where he solved our issue and checked our config for any weaknesses. Overall great experience, and of the reasons we will be staying with StarWind.

How would you rate customer service and support?

Positive

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

We did not use another storage solution like StarWind. Rather, we used an array of NAS Servers, which served a combined iSCSI storage. This approach is more professional and in line with the industry.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup was relatively straightforward. The manual was up to date and with images. The only complaint I have is that the guideline is mostly tailored to the paid version of the StarWind Management Console, and for the free version, you need to use the PowerShell templates. The manual should address them more.

What about the implementation team?

We implemented mainly in-house with the exception of the support of a technician, as mentioned in the next field.

What was our ROI?

While I can not give an exact number, compared to our old setup and the maintenance we put in, the ROI should be over 100%.

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

Through StarWind, in combination with HCI, we managed to reduce our overall hardware costs by about 50% through the avoidance of additional servers and software licensing. My recommendation is to utilize the community when setting up StarWind, which is a very good and strong point that speaks to StarWind and is also one of the main reasons we will stay with them.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

Yes, we evaluated StorMagic before deciding on StarWind.

What other advice do I have?

When setting up StarWind, it is fine to experiment with the config file; however, do back them up incrementally. Take your time in setting up a redundant infrastructure and meet hardware requirements (such as redundancy for Sync and Heartbeat Interfaces). Having solid ground to set up StarWind helped us to have a headache-free solution in the end. But that should be self-explanatory.

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

Hybrid Cloud
Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
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PeerSpot user
Principal of ICT Infrastructure and Services at Northgate High School
User
Easy to expand with seamless migrations and helpful support
Pros and Cons
  • "The fact that we can expand our storage and add on to our compute nodes easily and how amazing the StarWind technical support team is really adding value to our purchase."
  • "We don't really have any issues with this product."

What is our primary use case?

We use the StarWind Virtual SAN software across two storage nodes to create redundancy for our cluster storage. 

Installed on two storage servers, StarWind's Virtual SAN handles the replication of our cluster storage between the two in separate server rooms across the site. 

We have five compute nodes connected to the storage nodes, which we run Hyper-V; the VMs are all located on the cluster storage nodes yet physically run on the compute nodes. 

The compute nodes are split in two, with two in one server room and three in another, with room to add more compute nodes if needed. 

Migration of VMs is seamless and improved from our previous solutions.

How has it helped my organization?

Our previous SAN solutions were outdated and had several issues due to age.

Looking for a change, we found that all the reviews and people we spoke to about StarWind said that the software just worked perfectly. All we really wanted was a system that once it was set up that just worked. And that's exactly what we have found to be the case in StarWind's Virtual SAN. It has been excellent; we monitor the replication health via the software and that's about it. There are no issues so far, and, like each review we've seen, we would highly recommend StarWind Virtual SAN.

What is most valuable?

StarWind's Virtual SAN handles the replication of our cluster storage
between the two storage nodes in separate server rooms across the site. 

We have five compute nodes connected to the storage nodes, which we run Hyper-V, and the VMs are all located on the cluster storage nodes. They, however, physically run on the compute nodes. The compute nodes are split into two with two in one server room and three in another. There is also room to add more compute nodes if needed.

Migration of VMs is seamless. It's improved from our previous solutions. The fact is that once it was set up, the replication works perfectly, and we haven't had any issues since installation.

The fact that we can expand our storage and add on to our compute nodes easily and how amazing the StarWind technical support team is really adding value to our purchase.

What needs improvement?

We don't really have any issues with this product. 

StarWind has a great technical support team that helps with the installation and has ironed out any issues we had early on. 

The price was perfect, as we didn't have to shell out for new SAN servers. We found that StarWind's Virtual SAN was a cheaper solution to install on two storage servers than buying a new dedicated SAN server.

Due to the fact our old SAN was no longer supported and out of warranty, finding that StarWind's technical support team is so incredibly helpful and knowledgeable has been amazing.

There are no negatives or improvements that we can think of at our current stage.

For how long have I used the solution?

I've been using the solution for four months.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

The software seems to be completely stable; we have had no issues with the software itself and if a compute or storage node has gone down, the redundancy has been great, we don't even know if there ever was an issue. 

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

With the way we are set up, we only need two storage nodes that we are licensed for, and we can expand the storage on those nodes and add it to our cluster storage with no additional cost. Compute nodes don't need to be licensed, so we can have as many as we'd like and attach them to our cluster storage.

How are customer service and support?

Customer service and support were amazing. They offer quick responses and are  very helpful and knowledgeable. 

We had them look over our setup after the demo and got help with configuring the iSCSI connections to the storage nodes. We also had the same technician throughout, so he knew our system and setup.

How would you rate customer service and support?

Positive

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

We used NetApps SANtricity for the past 10+ years. The System was old, outdated, and out of warranty. Our support contract ended with them last year, so we needed a new solution with support and better software.

How was the initial setup?

Most of the setup was easy for our environment; the only issue we had was with setting up iSCSI connections from the compute nodes to the storage nodes, however, the technical support team helped with this.

What about the implementation team?

We went through a vendor and initially spoke directly with StarWind to do a demo and talk us through it.

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

The setup costs depend on how many nodes you need.

One of the main reasons we went with StarWind was the pricing. It was cheaper for us to use our existing servers and install the Virtual SAN software and upgrade to SSDs than buy a brand new SAN server from other providers. 

We trialed the StarWind Virtual SAN software for a few weeks and quickly decided on the product.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We looked at other solutions from HP, Barracuda, Netapp, and Azure HCI.

What other advice do I have?

If you trial the software, you can upgrade from the trial to the full version without any disruption or reconfiguration. StarWind Technical support is outstanding. They were extremely helpful throughout the trial, setup, and during our transitioning period.

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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Automation Engineer at Wunderlich-Malec Engineering
User
Top 20
Scalable, reliable, and offers helpful support
Pros and Cons
  • "The StarWind Virtual SAN provides a clever and unique solution to the Computing Split Brain problem."
  • "I would like them to invest time in reducing the complexity of the startup and shutdown procedure."

What is our primary use case?

I purchased a StarWind Hyper-Converged Appliance from StarWind in order to fulfill a multitude of needs for my end client. Chief among them was that the system would be a rather small installation. 

Compared to a traditional configuration using three Servers and a SAN, the StarWind HCA allowed me to provide the user with two Server boxes that could handle their redundancy requirements in a fraction of the space and with a significant cost reduction. 

The installation called for using a VMware vSphere that would house about a dozen VMs with redundancy for every component involved in the system. The reduced size of this installation also made it possible to install the HCA alongside the existing servers so that they could be removed at the client's leisure when they were comfortable with the new installation.

How has it helped my organization?

StarWind Virtual SAN, and specifically its implementation in their StarWind Hyper-Converged Appliance, gave us a competitive advantage in the bidding process. This is specifically true for smaller installations where the economies of scale of having a centralized SAN and compute-only boxes don't have a chance to kick in. 

In addition to the StarWind solution allowing you to save on the hardware by only requiring two boxes containing all components, it allows us to avoid the unfortunately expensive solution provided by VMware for their own virtual SAN solution.

What is most valuable?

The StarWind Virtual SAN provides a clever and unique solution to the Computing Split Brain problem. A split brain occurs when two machines in a redundancy scenario have lost their connection to each other yet have maintained connection to the clients. This causes both devices to think they are running as the master, and their configurations will drift apart from each other, making reintegration all but impossible. Instead of using a third client as a witness, they have solved this problem by creating a secondary heartbeat signal to be carried on an independent hardware NIC, thus solving the problem.

What needs improvement?

The only current drawback that I see for the configuration as it stands is that it can be a little complicated to configure compared to other, more traditional solutions. 

If it were up to me, I would focus on streamlining a vSphere appliance for configuring the virtual storage machines. 

I would also like them to invest time in reducing the complexity of the startup and shutdown procedure. Currently, it requires you to jump in and out of virtual environments placing storage components on or offline, and all steps must be done in their proper order, or you can create an issue. It seems to me that this could be integrated into an add-on for vSphere that could handle the details of the startup/shutdown procedure more gracefully and with less manual intervention.

For how long have I used the solution?

We've used the solution for about two years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

I did not experience any stability issues

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

This solution has the ability to scale into very large systems. However, it really shines in the small to mid-size range.

How are customer service and support?

Customer service gets back to you promptly and is highly knowledgeable.

How would you rate customer service and support?

Positive

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

In most instances, I have used a regular vSphere running a SAN and multiple compute hosts. I haven't precisely switched. I'd say that you need to provide the right solution for the end client, and in smaller installs, specifically, the efficiency gains in space and cost of the StarWind Virtual SAN can be hard to beat.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup for the StarWind Hyper-Converged Architecture I purchased was largely done either by StarWind or with their assistance. If I had to do the whole thing myself, it would have taken me quite some time based on the complexity. They do have good documentation and videos, so it would not have been an insurmountable task.

What about the implementation team?

We mainly did an in-house implementation.

What was our ROI?

I didn't calculate ROI. I can only state that it was about 30% cheaper for the end client than the alternative.

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

Do your comparison shopping, and if you are working on a small system trying to ensure redundancy, that will almost certainly bring you back to StarWind.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

For the application, I compared it to a regular vSphere SAN. However, I did not compare it to other Hyper-Converged solutions. At the time, it was pretty clear that they had a long track record and a good reputation which aided in deciding on them as a solution.

What other advice do I have?

Before you deliver this to an end client, make absolutely sure that you provide adequate documentation about how to start up and shut down the system. That part can be a little bit tricky and requires you to do things in the proper order.

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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I.T. Director at MBI
User
Easy to set up with great support and reasonable pricing
Pros and Cons
  • "It has been extremely stable for the three years we've been running it."
  • "I would definitely like to see quite a bit more on the monitoring side of things."

What is our primary use case?

Our company's needs are simple, and I like redundancy, so I was looking for the least expensive way to achieve as close to full hardware redundancy as possible without breaking the bank. 

I learned about vSAN technology, and it made sense to me to just get two hosts with identical hardware, and configure their storage as shared, providing full hardware redundancy (on top of the already partially redundant aspects of the hosts themselves), then just get a decent SAN for off-site DR backup storage (we settled on Synology's Flashstation for that), and I'm really glad we did.

How has it helped my organization?

StarWind's solution provided me the peace of mind knowing I had full hardware redundancy with my new servers and local storage, and it was less expensive than the VMware native license/solution would have been. 

It has been rock solid from day one. I've engaged with their expert support multiple times for maintenance sessions, to upgrade their software, and once to migrate from their Windows Server-based appliance to their Linux version once it was ready. We have only ever had one issue during an upgrade that was quickly resolved by their engineer.

What is most valuable?

By far, the best features are the cost, implementation, and support. The VMWare equivalent license upgrade would have been quite a bit more than the StarWind solution, and the only additional hardware requirements were the dual 25GB fiber NICs needed for the storage Sync functionality. 

They also worked with our preferred reseller (PCM at the time) and had our two brand new Dell hosts shipped to them first for pre-configuration, which they then turned around and shipped to us pre-configured and ready to go.

What needs improvement?

Implementation, maintenance, and support were and have been virtually painless, however, I would definitely like to see quite a bit more on the monitoring side of things. 

I would really like to be able to see a lot more of what is going on under the hood metrics-wise. It would be great to be able to see at least a little bit more. Specifically, things like performance, bandwidth utilization of the synchronization connection, and how it impacts the overall performance of the hosts.

For how long have I used the solution?

I've used the solution for three years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

It has been extremely stable for the three years we've been running it. There hasn't been one operational hiccup and only one issue which happened during a support session performing an upgrade, which was quickly resolved by the engineer.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

Our needs are simple. Therefore, we only have ever used or needed two hosts. That said, it is nice to know that it can scale to clusters if we ever need to go that route, as unlikely as that seems right now. 

How are customer service and support?

The few times I've ever engaged with technical support were for upgrades, and it was always pretty painless, with the one exception I mentioned before, where we had a problem with a host that ultimately required a hard reset. We're still not sure what happened to cause it to lock up, however, once it was back up everything was fine.

How would you rate customer service and support?

Positive

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

I had looked at other vSAN technology in the past, however, the cost was beyond our budget, especially after factoring in the cost of the support needed, since I am not a storage engineer.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup was easy. We simply had to unbox the servers, rack them, connect the cables, and turn them on. It was that simple.

What about the implementation team?

The initial setup was handled in-house - meaning, yours truly. All I had to do after firing them up was add the hosts to my existing vCenter server, migrate all of the VMs over to the new Hosts/Storage, and, once done, shut down and remove the old hosts from vCenter.

What was our ROI?

ROI is hard to quantify since we've never used anything else. That said, at least without it there would have been many thousands of dollars just for the licensing costs and appropriate support would have been even more than that. StarWind provides comprehensive support on everything, as long as you buy the hardware through them too.

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

I'd advise users to do their due diligence, however, StarWind's technology works as advertised, at a much lower cost than the native VMware solution. Their licensing is simple and affordable, and their support is impeccable.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We considered VMware's native vSAN technology and may have gone with it if I hadn't found StarWind while searching for alternatives.

What other advice do I have?

If you are looking at a simple, affordable vSAN technology, you can't go wrong with StarWind.

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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Information Technology Supervisor at Northwest Medical Center-Winfield
Real User
Easy to understand with a great basic setup and an extensive support community
Pros and Cons
  • "Besides being 80% cheaper than the other alternatives, the simplicity makes reconfiguration and support much easier."
  • "A web management interface would be good, especially for those coming from other solutions that have one."

What is our primary use case?

We originally had a three-node Nutanix cluster. However, we were asked to spend six figures on replacing it, as the Nutanix license was bound to the hardware. StarWind Virtual SAN could use this existing hardware without any special reconfiguration. 

We decided to go with their Linux appliance and quickly learned we could achieve the same resiliency with two nodes as we did with three nodes on Nutanix. 

They provided guides to help us set up the most efficient cluster, although we did have to use MD/RAID as there wasn't a guide available for ZFS.

How has it helped my organization?

Besides being 80% cheaper than the other alternatives, the simplicity makes reconfiguration and support much easier. The performance is much higher than we anticipated and outperforms the other solutions we've tried. 

They provide numerous guides and whitepapers to help set up your own environment, yet can also walk you through the setup, so you understand each component of it. Thanks to their extensive support community, we are no longer 100% dependent on support (or a support contract) for minor troubleshooting issues.

What is most valuable?

The most valuable feature to us is the basic setup, which makes it easy to understand what's happening under the hood. This, combined with the low price point, allowed us to rapidly implement the solution while giving us better performance than all other products we tested. 

All of the documentation is openly available and isn't hidden behind a support paywall like many other options. Since the setup was so simple, I opted to do the majority of setup myself, however, support was always available to answer any questions or to provide guidance.

What needs improvement?

A web management interface would be good, especially for those coming from other solutions that have one. All of the setup and configuration is done via a dedicated Windows application, so you'll have to install it on every machine that you want to manage the cluster with. 

Most of the documentation is heavily windows-based, so finding guides on their Linux VSA can be difficult, however, support can usually assist you in finding the documentation. 

An easy/native ZFS option would also be welcome, as we did end up having to use a mdadm setup, but none of these are deal-breakers.

For how long have I used the solution?

I've used the solution for three months.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

It's stable enough that I sometimes forget it's there. There are so few components in it that there's just less to go wrong.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

We were able to have the same resiliency with two nodes as we did with three nodes under Nutanix. It also managed to outperform Nutanix by a fair amount.

How are customer service and support?

Support has been phenomenal. They have always responded to emails in mere minutes, and everyone seems to know their stuff. I've never been transferred around, and they've always answered my question or resolved the issue in minutes.

How would you rate customer service and support?

Positive

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

We previously used Nutanix, which was extremely expensive and nearly ALL of the documentation was behind a support contract. Most of the components had cryptic names, and there were very few options for finding a solution yourself.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup is extremely simple, and support can walk you through it or give you guides if you are a do-it-yourself kind of person.

What about the implementation team?

Most of the implementation was done in-house, but support was available at any time to answer questions or to provide suggestions. Everyone we worked with on support seemed to know what they were doing.

What was our ROI?

It came in 80% cheaper than all of the other solutions, and the yearly support contract was a third of the price as well.

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

If cost and performance are your goals, then definitely look at StarWind. It's a smaller company than almost all of the alternatives, yet they have very dedicated support staff and a great development team. It doesn't have all the bells and whistles as some others. However, if you're looking for a simple hyper-converged solution, this is your best bet.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We evaluated multiple options, including a software-only Nutanix solution and the VMware vSAN. These were both very expensive and had a very strict hardware compatibility list, which caused the project's budget to swell exponentially. We also looked at some open-source options such as ESOS and GlusterFS, however,  these required many hours of setup and there wasn't a real enterprise support option for either.

What other advice do I have?

They have a great trial system with full support, they even extended mine due to my limited time to deploy and test everything.

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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reviewer1495242 - PeerSpot reviewer
Systems Administrator at Daifuku America
Real User
Top 10
Reasonably-priced, quick and helpful technical support, facilitates 3-2-1 backup compliance
Pros and Cons
  • "A great feature is that I basically set it and forget it, as everything is automatic."
  • "The console is something that I feel could be improved. There is nothing technically wrong with it, but it can be jazzed up and/or made to be a little more intuitive."

What is our primary use case?

We have a failover Hyper-V cluster and a stand-alone Veeam server. We back up our VMs via Veeam. We wanted to get our backups 3-2-1 compliant with a backup to disk backup, a second backup to another medium that was a virtual tape in our case, and backups to the cloud. 

We had a second physical server with tons of storage, so we installed StarWind. We were able to create a VTL and have tons of virtual tapes. We utilized iSCSI and were able to get Veeam to use this VTL as a destination for tape backups

In addition to Veeam being able to back up to tape now, we were also able to get the StarWind software to connect with our preferred storage vendor, Wasabi. Now, we back up to disk, back up to tape, and then ship those tapes offsite automatically to Wasabi.

The StarWind software was easy and quick to implement/setup and now our backup process is fully automated. 

How has it helped my organization?

Our backups are 3-2-1 compliant, which satisfies several audits and cybersecurity/insurance questionnaires. In addition, the process is fully automated.

We now have multiple copies of our backups and in the event of a complete disaster we also now have a DR strategy in place. 

Prior to this solution, we had a single point of failure when it came to backups. Now we, essentially have three targets, two of which are completely air gapped for security.

Lastly, the virtual tapes I've been told are impervious to ransomware. 

What is most valuable?

A great feature is that I basically set it and forget it, as everything is automatic. This is one less major thing to worry about.

Before, we had a lot of stock and pressure on our singular backup server. It carried a lot of weight. Now with the VTL software in place, we have three backup targets. The primary backup server is still critical but if that server were to go down, we would still have backup data intact. If our data center went down, we would still have backup data intact thanks to the offsite options. 

We can rest easier knowing our data is fully protected. The fact we have a DR strategy is priceless.

What needs improvement?

The console is something that I feel could be improved. There is nothing technically wrong with it, but it can be jazzed up and/or made to be a little more intuitive. Perhaps introduce a few right-click options, as that's my general go-to approach as opposed to searching for specific menu items.

I also feel that when dealing with a magnitude of tapes perhaps better formatting or color-coding will help locate or identify tapes easier than scrolling through the list. Also if the lists' real estate on the screen could be increased that would be helpful as well. 

Other than that, I have no complaints or issues with the software.

For how long have I used the solution?

We have been using StarWind Virtual SAN for six months.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

I haven't had any issues with the app becoming unusable. It's very stable and I have yet to experience a problem with it.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

The software can be upgraded with each release, so it's very scalable. 

How are customer service and technical support?

The technical support is amazing. Five stars. They are quick to respond and are able to handle issues very quickly and provide great feedback and explanation. 

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

We did not use another similar solution prior to this.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup was very straightforward and simple. I had the support team guide me along the way but the setup process was intuitive and there was nothing confusing about it. 

What about the implementation team?

I implemented it through their support team. After we purchased the software, they helped set us up. They were very knowledgeable and fast. We had tape backups working in minutes. 

What was our ROI?

I don't have exact figures in terms of ROI but I can say the product was well worth the cost.

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

The cost was ultimately low to implement, which allowed us to be 3-2-1 complaint.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We did not evaluate other options.

What other advice do I have?

After we purchased the software, we were able to contact support right away. I would suggest you take advantage of this, as they are quick to respond and got my software up and running literally within minutes.

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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Buyer's Guide
Download our free StarWind Virtual SAN Report and get advice and tips from experienced pros sharing their opinions.
Updated: November 2022
Buyer's Guide
Download our free StarWind Virtual SAN Report and get advice and tips from experienced pros sharing their opinions.