StarWind Storage Appliance Review

Works as a service and does not require too many resources on the host

What is our primary use case?

It's the main storage (CSV) for our Microsoft Hyper-V Cluster. We have two devices on Dell hardware that have StarWind VSAN installed, they have 25GB NIC in between for storage replication and all the storage is replicated so we can easily work on one node while the other is active. It's in Active-Active state so the load is shared. The storage is formated as CSV and it works over iSCSI protocol so we use our same network so there is no need for expensive fiber links. We run hundreds of virtual machines on this storage that needs to be always available. 

How has it helped my organization?

It improved our uptime dramatically where we did not have any outage in the past 12 months. Also, we were using multiple storage vendors in the past and were able to replace them with a single StarWind solution. As its primary software solution, you can choose the hardware it operates on, if you have purchased just the software license is really easy to move it from one hardware to another or increase the underlying storage system or add more hard drives as your need increases. An additional benefit is their support which is great.

What is most valuable?

It works as a service and does not require too many resources on the host, it has really fast replication if you have it as an HA storage. Another good feature is that you can pause the appliance if you want to move it from one location to another and then once it's moved you can resume it, this way you can physically move the whole cluster or storage without any downtime. It's really easy to use, if you have a good foundation in storage and clustering then you will need less then one hour to figure out how to operate it. 

What needs improvement?

It needs more integration with backup vendors so there is native integration with it that will allow storage level backup/snapshots. I would love to see integration with Veeam and Commvault so it can be recognized by them directly and added as network storage. 

It also will be great if it will be able to send weekly reports about the status of the storage, any issues, etc. More features that will provide how many IOPS you have per volume/disks, with nice charts, etc so you get some insight into what your environment is using.

For how long have I used the solution?

More then 12 months.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

It's very stable, works on Windows OS, and does not have its own hardware so stability partially depends on the hardware you are running it on and if your windows os is patched regularly but if you have sorted those two things their software is really stable. 

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

Scalability is not an issue, depending on the hardware you have it the scale really fast.

How are customer service and technical support?

Their support is very knowledgable and willing to help, they always go well beyond what is required to make sure things works as expected. 

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

We were using Open-E storage solution. It was software-defined storage so in sense similar to StarWind but it was way more complex to configure and operate and there was no option to be used as HCI as it was coming with its own OS so you can't really use the box for something else. 

How was the initial setup?

Its very straightforward, they have great documentation that if followed can be deployed really easily, plus they have superb support .

What about the implementation team?

We did the deployment in-house.

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

Cost is really something that attracts us to begin the journey with StarWind many years ago but then we simply realized that their solution works with superb performances and are really happy to stick to it. We use it on HCI mode where we just purchased the software and build our own solution with our own hardware and also we have purchased a ready-made appliance from StarWind, both work fine and we are happy with them.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We looked at pure storage as well but it was too costly.

What other advice do I have?

Their support is great and they are improving their software with every new iteration. Really happy to be their customer. Keep up the good work guys!

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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