StarWind HyperConverged Appliance Review

We substantially reduced network complexity by eliminating the standalone SAN

What is our primary use case?

We are an SMB that hosts our ERP on-site. Our infrastructure is shared with a group of inter-related companies, so uptime is critical since several entities rely on our core services. StarWind HCA is the core of our network and hosts all of our critical VMs. We needed a cost-effective HA solution that was easy to manage, as we have a very small IT department that is concentrated mostly on business process improvements. The last thing we need is complex systems to manage taking our focus away from that.

How has it helped my organization?

We went from a vSphere compute cluster with an external SAN made by a company that is in perpetual financial trouble and have shifted business focus several times. Not only was our traditional SAN expensive, but we also had no confidence in the vendor. StarWind HCA is commodity hardware, so we eliminated the proprietary hardware issue. 

We also substantially reduced network complexity by eliminating that standalone SAN. That reduced complexity has allowed us to concentrate on improving other areas of our network.

What is most valuable?

Proactive support has been great, you will receive an email from StarWind soon after their telemetry service sees anything out of the ordinary with either the StarWind services or any critical issue related to your cluster of VMs. The appliance support goes beyond my expectations by helping with some Hyper-V issues that may not be directly related to the StarWind services.

The most valuable feature is its simplicity. It really isn't any more difficult to manage than a standard Hyper-V cluster.

What needs improvement?

Communication could have been improved during the implementation process. I've also been looking forward to further development of their management console which has been slow to materialize. StarWind is promising full cluster management and backup integration in a single-pain-of-glass console.

Possible new features could be CSV-level snapshot capability, Veeam integration, and maybe a more straightforward setup. Granted, you don't have to worry about setups with the HCA, but if you want to implement StarWind vSAN in a lab to test it is a tedious setup process.

For how long have I used the solution?

We've been running our StarWind HCA for about two years.

How are customer service and technical support?

Technical support has been willing to help and train even on simple questions.

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

We previously had a vSphere cluster with a standalone SAN. We wanted a less complex solution.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup is really easy. StarWind handles it.

What about the implementation team?

In-house with StarWind help.

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

The HCA price is all-inclusive (setup, hardware, support, warranty), except for your standard Microsoft Server licensing.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We evaluated Cisco and DataCore.

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

**Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
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