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StarWind Virtual SAN Room for Improvement

MIT - PeerSpot reviewer
IT System Administrator at Ludwig Meyer GmbH & Co. KG

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 ūüėĀ

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!

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reviewer1667487 - PeerSpot reviewer
Senior Technical Architect at HS Data Ltd

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.

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CM
I.T. Director at MBI

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.

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Buyer's Guide
StarWind Virtual SAN
July 2022
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reviewer1495242 - PeerSpot reviewer
Systems Administrator at Daifuku America

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.

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reviewer1465917 - PeerSpot reviewer
Corporate Technology Manager at MTE Logistix

This is a tough question. One that I wouldn't have put in here for the simple fact that I decided to write a positive experience with Starwind.

Now, if I want to be picky, I could simply say that the price is not cheap. I started with the basic package, for 4 TB. Than I had to purchase to go up to 8 TB. It does look now that I will have to pay the remaining fee to purchase unlimited data. Should I have done so first, maybe but things change very rapidly and what wasn't needed not too long ago is now. SO overhaul, price. I would also need to pay extra to be able to have support during the weekend, otherwise, you have support only from Monday to Friday. Can be inconvenient if your business work 24 hrs shift Sunday to Friday.

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RK
Chief Information Officer at Scott County Hospital, Scott City, KS

I'm actually really satisfied with Starwind. Their product and support have been top-notch. They even have a version that is free, though it is a command-line only. 

As for additional features, perhaps some integration in with systems like IT Glue.  A way to push the configuration into IT Glue in the event of an outage or just for documentation purposes would be nice.  

Overall, however, the product does what it is supposed to do. Adding features for the sake of adding something may not be terribly appropriate in this case. The system just plain works.

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CK
System Administrator at Wilson Logistics

Some of the documentation seems to be a bit older and refers to deprecated items. This wasn't a huge issue as the technician that walked me through the install was very knowledgeable and gave me a clear list of steps to take.

The only major issue we had was with the NIC drivers we were using on the link between the two hosts. For reference, we're using a direct connection between a 40 gig QSFP+ NIC in each of our hosts. The issue was that the iSCSI connection between the two hosts would drop after about ten minutes during a full sync of the two storage arrays. The support tech was able to quickly identify the drivers as the issue to get it resolved quickly and prior to our production deadline.

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CT
Chief Information Officer at Ohio Dominican University

I had an occasion last year where I needed emergency support from them, and the support we normally pay for didn't cover it. I had to buy upgraded support, which was not a problem, but it wasn't a prorated amount, so I paid for the support, the full upgrade, but I only got a couple of months out of it because it was only good until renewal time. That kind of thing should either be prorated or extended past the renewal time, so whenever you buy it, you get a year's worth of upgraded support. That's my only real problem with them. Otherwise, I think they're pretty good.

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BH
Director Of Information Technology at Cass County Government

It would be nice to see a new UI for the windows client, as it is not the easiest to find settings. However, we normally don't have to. 

I do see a lot of info about them now offering a VSAN-like software that is a Linux VM base for VMware. I'd like to see this same option available for Hyper-V, or at least make it more apparent the differences between the two. 

I would like to see more US-based resellers. Working directly with the company was fine, but we prefer to have local resellers available as needed. 

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BW
Director Of Technical Services at D-J Engineering Group Inc.

We just need more integration with Veeam. Overall, I like the fire and forget model, so really there isn't an immense amount of things that I would request. 

Possibly some reporting via SMTP of some metrics would be nice to have. That said, quite honestly I get that from enough systems already and end up ignoring most of them. 

If this was something I was logged into every day then maybe I would request more features. Then again, I would be more concerned with its quality (we shouldn't need to log in daily). I'm not really sure what more to ask for.

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LF
Enterprise Cloud Manager at Exponential-e

As a company grows the ability to be able to deep dive into the minutiae of system performance becomes very important. Being able to see at a glance which systems are consuming IOPS/shares is very important indeed. 

The gathering of monthly consumption and performance reports for future dissemination to concerned parties is also very important. Unfortunately, StarWinds vSAN doesn't offer this functionality, however, it is something that would be greatly welcomed should they choose to develop it.

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TRAIANO ... - PeerSpot reviewer
Technology Solutions, Support & Training at UNISONMEDIA Group, Inc.

Built-in Notification would really help and as I understand, their new release has this now.  

A mobile app to sync up for overview and status would really be helpful.

Also, it would be helpful if the software had a few more guides and links/videos on how-to's.

An "Update available" notification within the software would also be helpful and a guided wizard to do the upgrade properly would also be nice and efficient.

A better visual of the SAN storage/actual storage and how it is used would be good, especially when it comes to where the files are located on the disk. 

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RG
Network Specialist at Nexans aeA
  • Easy migration to ZFS system that is being presented on a new version of StarWind, migrations look complicated as this restructures the whole architecture on the raid level, but could be a good option just by having it and letting the user decide this new feature migration, as based on our experience with ZFS systems they work pretty fast and secure.
  • Android app for monitoring and receiving push notifications as alarms or monitoring I/O from any mobile device could be a good feature and nice to have as we are not always on our desk.
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NG
Field Engineering Lead at Superior Support Resources, Inc.

The only way I can see this product needing improvement is the consultation level of the StarWind sales and engineers. For example, the method of management of the StarWind environments that have been deployed has been a downloaded management console program. This downloaded program which needs to be installed on the network of the environment was the suggestion of the deployment engineers. 

I would like to see more consultation on a web UI management console.

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MP
Engineer at Peoples' Friendship University of Russia

It would be nice to add the ability to use raw partitions instead of file containers.

I think that using equal partitions would improve performance by eliminating the additional file system necessary to host the container

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reviewer1560054 - PeerSpot reviewer
User

I would like to see options for automated notifications of any changes, including, for example, synchronization issues.

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SS
Senior Systems Engineer at a tech consulting company with 1-10 employees

Starwind Virtual SAN has fulfilled all of our requirements. There is not anything additional we require. The product does everything we need and more.  

If there was one thing we could request, it would be the ability to shrink volumes. For example, we want to be able to decrease in the size of the volume. We understand this is not a limitation in the product as it can potentially cause more problems by leaving things behind. Also, even though we cannot decrease the volume at this time, it is easily addressed by creating a new volume with the appropriate size and migrating data over to it.

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CG
CIO at a renewables & environment company with 1-10 employees

Although minor, some of the documentation could be rewritten to be clearer. Some of the documents are not the best at describing how the StarWind vSAN system is designed or implemented, and although unimportant (as "long as it works") it is still nice to read the nitty-gritty details.  

Some of the documentation is a bit rough in spelling or sentence structure. I would imagine this is due to translation and non-English as the primary language. These are not deal breakers since the support staff is very helpful.

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Justin Graves - PeerSpot reviewer
IT Supervisor at Area Agency on Aging Region 9, Inc.

A good area of improvement would be at the level at which StarWind vSAN is managed. Currently, the StarWind management console is a bit clunky to navigate and isn't the most user intuitive interface. It gets the job done, however, following guides and documentation is highly advised to make sure things are being set up correctly. 

Another area of improvement would be the ability to manage your entire setup using StarWind software. Hyper-V, for example, still needs to be managed using a manager and failover cluster. Combining these into the StarWind product would be a game changer.

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reviewer1493754 - PeerSpot reviewer
Informatics Analyst III at University of Alabama at Birmingham

If there was a way to automatically put disks in maintenance mode when shutting the host down and exit maintenance mode automatically, that would simplify things. I'm not sure how they would implement that, but I think it would be possible. 

Another feature they could add would be better integration with Windows networking and disk management tools. Maybe something as simple as shortcuts to those applications within the StarWind management console.

Perhaps automatic recommendations when setting up hosts/disks would be helpful as well.

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PeerSpot User - PeerSpot reviewer
User

Some users have commented on online forums and others that the documentation and KB articles could be clearer or better written. However, I found this to be the case a couple of years ago. Now, in 2022, this has been rectified and you can usually find the information that you are looking for.

Another problem that we have come across is that when you will cease your contract with StarWind (for support) your product won't be updated and that is a big selling point, especially for us, as we have loads of products from StarWind.

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GF
Chief Technology Expert at Rapid Response Networks

The main issue we ran into was the documentation. We attempted to set up the product in our test environment by ourselves and ran into several areas of the documentation that were unclear to us.  

Starwind provides excellent pre-sale support and scheduled several meetings between our IT staff and their support team to review the configuration and answer questions. This helped immensely in deploying the software in our test environment and helped us to understand the product better. Support was always willing to help with any documentation that we were confused over and continued to follow up with us after the project went live.

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FS
Company Owner at a insurance company with 11-50 employees

There is no Italian-language version of the software available. Although I'd prefer an Italian version, I received extensive and comprehensive support in all of the deployment steps. This included communication by email, call, and video.

During a long power outage our UPS batteries was completely discharged, on power on Starwind vSAN wasn't able to choose which node was the correct node to sync from so we had to "mark as Syncronize" one of them. Then we wrote some powershell scripts to power off and power on   the nodes in sequence  before ups completely discharghe and then on power on. I'd like to manage these cases directly on GUI. Something like "in case vSAN isn't be able to mark as Syncronized a node, mark this node as sync"

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DH
Web Services and Systems Development at a non-profit with 201-500 employees

I found that certain browsers are not fully compatible with the administration web access portal. I would like to see continued improvement with additional compatibility for other browsers to be able to work properly with the administrator web portal.

I did find out, with the help of StarWind's support, that the Firefox browser seems to be the browser that works the best with their web portal.

It also appears that vMotion is slower than my previous SAN solution, which was a traditional physical unit.

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Justin Graves - PeerSpot reviewer
IT Supervisor at Area Agency on Aging Region 9, Inc.

Management of VSAN itself could be improved. A Web UI for management would be great rather than an application installation. StarWind is testing a command center virtual appliance that I have installed in my environment. It is very much a step in the right direction to make StarWind Virtual SAN management easier and even Hyper-V as a whole. Something Hyper-V has lacked for years is a good Web UI to manage a host or cluster. StarWind has taken upon themselves to help with this as well as manage the Virtual SAN in a single pane of glass.

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AB
User

It would help if the manufacturer provided clearer and more detailed documentation, with explanations of how the application can be installed in various HA configurations. They should include advantages and disadvantages for each proposed configuration. Currently, you can only find information on this on the manufacturer's website, but it does not contain very detailed information regarding each proposed configuration.

It might help to add the functionality to automatically send an email to a predefined address when errors occur in the application.

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Indeep G - PeerSpot reviewer
Senior Systems Administrator at Prism Economics & Analysis

There needs to be more visibility on how long the cloud replication will take as there is no current ETA.  

Also, there is no date/time column so you don't know which is the latest tape that has been uploaded to object storage.  

You also cannot search by tape name so you have to scroll through the tape list if you ever need to cross-reference.  

Another shortcoming is that the tapes do not remove from the list once they've been deleted via the retention policy so you would have to manually remove them.  

I've requested all of these in a feature request with their R&D so hopefully, they will be included in future releases.

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PL
Application Engineer at Rakuten

StarWind Virtual SAN architecture is slightly complex and requires the team to carefully identify and study how the solution integrates with VMware vSphere.

Tooling is spread across web UI plus desktop clients which can sometimes be confusing as the team isn't always sure which tool to use during maintenance procedures.

Also one drawback, when compared to VMware vSAN, is that StarWind Virtual SAN requires a lot of network interfaces in order to provide the same data replication and node redundancy features.

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Bern Farrant - PeerSpot reviewer
Security and Systems Engineer at New Creation Consulting

Perhaps more reporting features on the utilization, usage, and performance of the configured high-availability images and underlying physical disks would be helpful.

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IJ
IT Director at Marion County R-II School

This product would benefit from having automated alerting functionality.

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LW
Technical Helpdesk Manager at PurpleJelly Ltd

For me, the product could be improved by it being made cheaper. We can't use this as an option for some of our smaller clients. Being able to replicate RAM between the hosts would be a nice feature so that VMs could be live-migrated fully in the event of a full host failure. Currently, the vSAN offers the ability to live-migrate the virtual machine as the VHD is on shared storage, however, if the virtual machine were to be rebooted, it would lose the running configuration (e.g. memory, etc). If this could also be live-migrated, that would be gold. 

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Christopher Morley - PeerSpot reviewer
Founder and Consultant at Unified Microsystems (UAE, Philippines)

The documentation could be clearer in terms of explaining the installation, although I will make two comments on this.

The high availability of virtual SAN is by its very nature not a simple drop-in thing, so the documentation will understandably be complex.

Secondly, the installation process is completely guided and done remotely by StarWind certified installation engineers, who handle all aspects.

Given the above, the only thing I can really say needs improvement is that I am not keen on the pricing per storage tier model, however, understand this is a common model charged.

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reviewer1423983 - PeerSpot reviewer
IT Manager at North Valley Health Center

I think the setup could be streamlined a bit. I was already familiar with iSCSI and setting up shared storage, but the abstraction process of getting from configuring the raid array on the local host machine, and making sure all the correct values are set to get the best performance, was a bit finicky.

Then, you had to prepare the appliances on each host and again make sure your VMDKs are properly formatted and then mounted correctly so they can be shared as iSCSI disks. It just felt like a lot of opportunities for a user to make big mistakes that would affect the end performance.

I was very impressed with the tech who walked me through the whole process, as I'm just not sure I would have gotten there on my own. 

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Luca Bertellini - PeerSpot reviewer
Cardio Solution Architect EMEA at General Electric

The price is the key aspect (yet not at the expense of reliability and stability). It is not so easy to find an aspect where StarWind can improve their offering or any additional feature they can include for the price they ask. 

I know that StarWind can scale out easily, however, I wasn't in the position to test that. I would like an automated installation/configuration despite the fact that their service is very collaborative, a customer should be able to deploy the solution by themselves. 

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Adam Charlton - PeerSpot reviewer
DevOps Engineer at Slimming World

The forums can lead to lots of topics with no resolutions.

The logs can also become very noisy when there is an issue, which is very infrequent. However, when they do occur, it makes it very challenging to figure out what the cause is.

A feature that would be helpful, is a way to update the software automatically on all the hosts. Instead, you must find the download link, which in itself can be challenging, and then manually upgrade each server one by one. This process can take a while depending on the time to resync your VDISKS. 

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MC
CEO, Founder at a tech services company with 1-10 employees

The StarWind Management Console is available only for Microsoft Windows/Windows Server, and should also be available for Linux and macOS, as it would reduce implementation costs.

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Jordi - PeerSpot reviewer
Netwerkbeheerder at a construction company with 201-500 employees

I don't think there is much change needed with Starwind vSAN. The product works very well as it is. I haven't got any new features that I would like to add. 

If it's possible to make a driver/solution that does not make use of the iSCSI targets of Windows, that would be great. I don't know if that's possible, however, it could make the configuration a little easier.

The support is excellent and all the people I've contacted have good knowledge of the product. There is nothing to change there. 

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JT
Lead Network Engineer at consulting group

It would be helpful if StarWind provided more precise and detailed documentation explaining how to configure the solution in various scenarios, including the advantages and disadvantages of each. 

I'd also like a mechanism for notifying us when updates are available as well as a visual interface for iSCSI and physical storage. A mobile app for alerts and notifications would be helpful, too. We should still have access to security patches even if we don't pay for support. Lastly, StarWind should make it easier to perform an orderly shutdown of the entire environment in a power outage when everything is running on battery.

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BD
IT Manager at a manufacturing company with 51-200 employees

Like many solutions today, Starwind should focus a bit on the alarmists of the product.

There are so many potential alarmistic features and protocols that should be incorporated into the software.

Security on the ISCSI protocol could be improved by adding features like OS-type control access, especially for the data center environment.

I have seen 13 years of evolution in the product. Previously, it was short in features. Many customers' requests have been done. I do hope the solution continues to evolve in this way. 

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NC
Technical Department Manager at ACS SA

Maybe in the future, the replication will be supported in more cloud providers.

I don't think there are features that this product doesn't have it. It has all of the things that a system engineer will want.

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GP
CEO at a tech vendor with 51-200 employees

A great feature would be a wizard and to include a new disk in the SAN. At the moment, including a new disk requires several steps - some that must be done at the OS level and others in each node. We have no more recommendations for the product beyond that.

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LP
Head of Information Technology at Head of Information Technology

A central management console may be nice to see all nodes.

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Norman Allen - PeerSpot reviewer
Head of Information Technology at Baker Tilly BVI & Baker Tilly Cayman

If a node goes offline unexpectedly, a re-sync between the nodes takes place in order to ensure data integrity.  This sync, though necessary, can take several hours.  

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FF
IT Specialist at a tech services company with 51-200 employees

Updating the software can be a bit tricky. You have to go down scripts to put it in maintenance mode, etc. It takes a while to update. From my experience, I think that's a thing that they need to improve on.

Every time I put it in maintenance mode, all of the replications stop. If they could fix this, it would be a great product.

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JG
Principal Specialist - Technology at ABERDEEN DRILLING CONSULTANTS LIMITED

So far, for our use case, I haven't noticed issues with the product. 

The few times I've ever engaged with technical support were during the initial phase of the implementation. However, I would absolutely like to see a lot more on the monitoring side. The information currently does not give any performance of the VSAN. 

I would also like to see the activities occurring on the nodes, bandwidth, replication and synchronization. Diagnostics information or alerts on the state of systems could also be implemented to give more visibility. 

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Buyer's Guide
StarWind Virtual SAN
July 2022
Learn what your peers think about StarWind Virtual SAN. Get advice and tips from experienced pros sharing their opinions. Updated: July 2022.
620,319 professionals have used our research since 2012.