StarWind Virtual SAN Review

Impressive speed performance and high availability has improved our user experience

What is our primary use case?

We use this product in our VMWare vSphere environment.

We use vSphere 7 Enterprise Plus and have a four host system. All four hosts have matching solid-state storage in a raid 10 array. We have two pairs acting as sync pairs so that one host in each pair can fail before we lose access to the VMs on those hosts. They are connected via 40GB redundant links for both iSCSI and sync.

We have really tried to focus on both speed and redundancy and feel that this setup was the best way to accomplish that goal.

How has it helped my organization?

StarWind vSAN has translated to a huge improvement in speed and high availability compared to our old iSCSI shared storage solution. Previously, we had a network-attached storage device with tiered arrays. Part of it was a standard spinning disk and the other was solid-state drives.

With this new solid-state local storage, we have massively improved our user experience.

The sync functionality is amazing as well, compared to our old replication system, in that it happens in realtime as data is written so that high availability is as fast as possible.

What is most valuable?

Speed and high availability have been the most valuable for us. Again, I would say the speed for our users has been extremely valuable. I wouldn't say it was terrible before but you know it's fast when normal, non-tech-savvy users are asking if we upgraded something because some local database app feels faster today!

From a business continuity standpoint, I love how it has improved our failover processes in vSphere. Having the data replicate in real time between host pairs has almost completely automated the process. 

What needs improvement?

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. 

For how long have I used the solution?

We have been using StarWind Virtual SAN for five months.

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

I did not use another solution prior to this one.

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

I think the bang for the buck is much better with StarWind Virtual SAN.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

I evaluated VMware vSAN.

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