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Buyer's Guide
Software Defined Storage (SDS)
July 2022
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Lawrence Tse - PeerSpot reviewer
Founder, Professional Services Director, Lead Architect at Falcon Consulting
Real User
Top 5Leaderboard
A great solution for fostering the natural expansion of the traditional hybrid culture
Pros and Cons
  • "The flash ability, in terms of tiering and caching, is amazing"
  • "Documentation management could be improved"

What is our primary use case?

There are specific use cases. For the time being, most of our customers use this solution to foster the natural expansion of the traditional hybrid culture. There are two versions: they can use the hybrid form and sometimes they use the development VMware form. The goal is to optimize the cost for the data expanse, to expand the expenses. That's why the VMware customers have trouble with VMware, because of the expansive high maintenance fees.

Primarily, our customers use this solution for site recovery. They are using the STD platform to form a hybrid-converged infrastructure.

What is most valuable?

The flash ability, in terms of tiering and caching, is amazing. 

Traditionally, when you use other storage solutions, when you tier, you need to get a license. There are some limitations to tiering with this solution. You have got the caching media, for example. For Microsoft, as long as the hardware is still certified or in the server, you can use it. Most vendors, including Dell, IBM, and Fuji Shield include plenty of hardware that you can use which is certified for Microsoft Windows. 

What needs improvement?

Most of the VMware customers I have been engaging with say they have experienced engagement problems. VMware is trying to sell off the VMware enterprise cost and the whole solution is being sold down to a customer, whereas, usually they would try to intentionally avoid talking about the related Windows license. 

It's not very eye-catching but it's still sizable and we have implemented several Storage Spaces Direct projects for our customers. Currently, we're working hard to replace some of the special storage and hopefully even replace the harder converged storage, etc.

Documentation management could be improved. 

The reason why this product is not being widely accepted by the public is that it doesn't include intuitive streamline, which makes it far from complete.

Storage Spaces Direct is powerful and the performance is amazing, but if you need to deliver a high price-performance ratio and visible performance, you need to have expertise in tuning. Many people will not be able to enjoy this opportunity because it's not included in the training. In this case, you need to have a system integrator.  

A Complete management UI using a web-based interface would be a beneficial feature. They should also use a direct API — currently, they are only using partial API. Often, our customers need to work with other web-based solutions, so they require full API. I am writing my own API for this reason, and our customers are ok with that, but full API would be a very helpful feature that would lead to much more customer satisfaction.

Microsoft should provide support for other channels. Microsoft OS supports other channels, but when they become the S2D storage solution, it's very easy to customize the quality. Technically, you can switch channels and replace your storage, but you will need to store away all of the fiber channel equipment, the hardware, and the cables, which can be very expensive.

For how long have I used the solution?

I have been using Microsoft Storage Spaces Direct for at least three and a half years.

We have been implementing Microsoft Storage Spaces Direct for several customers. And personally, I'm the architect of Microsoft at my location.

I am the chief architect of this project. I am also the architect of the internal production house. We are in charge of implementing Storage Spaces Direct into the solution.

How was the initial setup?

In order to implement Storage Spaces Direct, you need to have a very comprehensive understanding of storage. High-speed storage networks require fine-tuning in order to function optimally. For this reason, all storage, aisles, and tiering need to be finely-tuned.

Technical companies and vendors that only have Microsoft training, will only implement the software side, ignoring the hardware side. 

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

It's a one-off price. Storage Space Direct is a bundled feature of the Windows server. There are no on-going costs and of course, you can purchase the software through it and enjoy the free upgrades. There are no underlying hidden costs, etc. because it is all included in Windows.

What other advice do I have?

This solution has an on-premise clouding bridge, but actively, there is no cloud version. 

Overall, on a scale from one to ten, I would give this solution a rating of nine. For me, it's very difficult to deal with marketing, I need to handle it for Microsoft. When we try to engage with customers, they are not interested because Microsoft doesn't have the corresponding credit, and due to this, we lose customers. If I am going to be confident enough to promote this Microsoft solution, I need my customer to have 100% trust in me. I am not comfortable promoting this solution to new customers. 

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

On-premises
Disclosure: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: Partner
Brendan - PeerSpot reviewer
Technology Manager at Tryon International Equestrian Center
User
Top 20
Easy to set up with excellent technical support and great high availability
Pros and Cons
  • "The low cost of this solution has also made a big difference in our budget, which has been very helpful."
  • "If I had to pick something to add to the product, it would be nice if you could have more than one user account on their command center VM."

What is our primary use case?

We use the StarWind HCA as the main solution for hosting all of our core VMs. 

We have about 20 Microsoft and Linux VMs that we are running on Hyper-V on the StarWind HCA. 

Our HCA is made up of two Dell servers running the StarWind VSAN software. The VMs that we have are mainly made up of general-purpose servers with a few other custom-use servers thrown in. 

We also use the HCA to host both of our domain controllers, although we don't have them in the cluster, they are still on the appliance. 

How has it helped my organization?

Having high availability has definitely improved the reliability of our infrastructure and made server maintenance much easier, which is a significant improvement for the organization. 

The low cost of this solution has also made a big difference in our budget, which has been very helpful. 

The reliability of the VSAN software has also been a big improvement in our infrastructure. 

The quality of support from StarWind has probably been the biggest improvement though as we went from having a relatively low level of support with our previous solution to having a truly top-tier support team at our disposal.

What is most valuable?

High availability with only two nodes has really been enormously valuable to us. Our infrastructure is relatively small and we really didn't need more than two nodes, however, for many reasons, we really needed to have high availability. Being able to accomplish that without extra hardware was huge. 

The ability to use whatever hypervisor that we wanted has also been very valuable to us. We were able to switch over to Hyper-V from VMWare and save on the licensing costs that we previously had with VMWare.

What needs improvement?

I really don't say this very much, however, I actually don't have many issues with this product. However, if I had to think of something, some people might not like the fact that a lot of the engineers tend to have relatively thick eastern European accents, and that might be an issue for some folks. 

If I had to pick something to add to the product, it would be nice if you could have more than one user account on their command center VM. It's not really a big deal, however, that would be a good addition.

For how long have I used the solution?

I've used the solution for about six months.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

It is extremely stable. I haven't had any issues at all. It's one of my favorite things about this solution.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

It is extremely scalable.

How are customer service and support?

Their customer service and support are top-notch. 

How would you rate customer service and support?

Positive

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

Our previous solution was very old and not really a good comparison. 

We switched due to the fact that the hardware needed to be refreshed and we needed high availability.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup was extremely easy and their support team was assisting through the whole process.

What about the implementation team?

It was implemented through their support team and their level of expertise was extremely high.

What was our ROI?

We've seen an ROI of 100% to 150%

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

The setup cost and support contract was significantly cheaper with StarWind than with any of the other options that I evaluated.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We considered just buying new server hardware and staying with VMware. We also evaluated Scale and Nutanix.

What other advice do I have?

I really can't recommend them enough. 

Their VSAN software is excellent. The ability to get a highly available setup with just two nodes is fantastic. Their support is top-notch, and from a cost perspective, they blew everybody else out of the water. Give them a call; you won't be sorry!

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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Justin Graves - PeerSpot reviewer
IT Supervisor at Area Agency on Aging Region 9, Inc.
Real User
Top 5
Cost-effective with top-tier support and offers a highly available environment
Pros and Cons
  • "They offer top-tier support."
  • "Currently, the StarWind management console is a bit clunky to navigate and isn't the most user-intuitive interface."

What is our primary use case?

We use the solution to create a highly available server cluster. 

I currently have two physical servers running 25 virtual machines in a highly available cluster. StarWind Virtual SAN enables this without any extra hardware and any kind of hardware vendor locking. 

We use the vSAN product to run a production cluster but also a secondary cluster that houses low-level and testing servers. StarWind vSAN is used to cluster everything together into a solid hyper-converged structure that requires less hardware, less energy, and far less maintenance.

How has it helped my organization?

I have been able to do more with less hardware. StarWind vSAN allows us to create a hyper-converged server cluster on a friendly budget without being locked into a specific hardware vendor. 

The product, server, and support are top tier. Their proactive support is on top of every little anomaly in the vSAN. The product is fairly simple to get running and operates with little overhead. 

It makes setting up a high available environment easy and very manageable. Everyone from sales to support are very engaged and proud of the product.

What is most valuable?

The most valuable aspects are the support and the high availability.

They offer top-tier support. The support staff is knowledgeable and very willing to help. The proactive support option is unlike any support I've ever dealt with. If anything gets out of sorts, the team is on top of it with an email.

Achieving a highly available environment can be hard to execute and lead to a hardware vendor lockin. StarWind is hardware agnostic and supports as few as two hosts to create a fully functional, hyper-converged, highly available server cluster at a fraction of the cost of other vendors.

What needs improvement?

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.

For how long have I used the solution?

I've used the solution for five years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

The solution is very stable. It's been running for five years with nearly no problems in the software itself.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

You can start with just two nodes and scale from there. It's very helpful.

How are customer service and support?

The technical support is A+.

How would you rate customer service and support?

Positive

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

We did not use a different solution previously.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup is straightforward. The support helps with the initial setup. I had to rebuild a cluster once and support also assisted with that process.

What about the implementation team?

We handled the setup in-house with the manufacturer.

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

The product offers a very straightforward cost model versus its competitors.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We did also evaluate VMware, Nutanix, and Scale.

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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Daniel Saldarriaga - PeerSpot reviewer
Especialista en ventas de productos at Adistec
MSP
Top 20
Good interface with easy onboarding and simple to customize
Pros and Cons
  • "It's easy to use and has a very smooth onboarding process."
  • "The cost of the solution is too expensive. There are other options, such as VMware, that are offered for less money. In Latin America, it seems to be overpriced for the market."

What is our primary use case?

In most of the cases, the clients use the solution as a file server or database with data and another solution. Mostly, there is hyperconversion with Acropolis and its hypervisor.

What is most valuable?

My experience with the Nutanix Acropolis is good from both a reseller and end-user experience.

The automation is excellent.

The product offers a quality hypervisor.

The solution offers very good customization.

The administration with the prem solution is very good.

Overall, it's quite a comprehensive solution.

The user experience is very good.

The product has a very nice user interface.

It's easy to use and has a very smooth onboarding process.

We find the performance to be excellent on this solution.

What needs improvement?

The cost of the solution is too expensive. There are other options, such as VMware, that are offered for less money. In Latin America, it seems to be overpriced for the market.

For how long have I used the solution?

We've been using the solution for one year at this point. It hasn't been too long.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

We've found the stability to be excellent. There aren't any issues around its reliability. It doesn't crash or freeze. It's not buggy at all.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

Nutanix scales better than VMware, however, the pricing is an issue. As you scale, it costs more.

Typically, the customers that use Nutanix are larger organizations as the cost is quite high and an SME would not necessarily be able to afford it.

How are customer service and technical support?

The technical support is very good. We're quite satisfied with the level of service we receive.

We also find that the documentation is very good and quite easy to understand, which helps with the usability of the product.

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

We also deal with VMware. There's some competition between the two as VMware is less expensive. 

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup is not complex at all. it's very easy and straightforward. The onboarding process is also nice and simple. We've had a good experience.

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

Between VMware and Nutanix, the price of VMware is lower. In comparison, Nutanix is pricey. 

What other advice do I have?

I work for a distributor of Nutanix that also handles VMware. However, I market the Nutanix solutions primarily. We're resellers and we're a partner of Nutanix. We use both on-premises and cloud deployment versions. We tend to use Google and Amazon clouds when we use cloud deployments.

The platform is very easy to use and the administration functionality is good. Even in relation to VMware, which is cheaper, I like Nutanix best. It's easy to learn and the processes of configuration and onboarding are fantastic.

Overall, I would rate the solution eight out of ten.

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

On-premises
Disclosure: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: Partner
Buyer's Guide
Software Defined Storage (SDS)
July 2022
Get our free report covering Nutanix, DataCore, StarWind, and other competitors of VMware Software Defined Storage. Updated: July 2022.
621,327 professionals have used our research since 2012.