StarWind Virtual SAN Review

It provides a high degree of mobility, as the virtual SAN can be moved relatively painlessly between on-site devices and the cloud

What is our primary use case?

Our primary use case of this solution is the deployment of a highly-available Microsoft Hyper-V environment. Using the StarWind Virtual SAN product allowed us to deploy a Hyper-V cluster that provides uninterrupted failover between nodes that would have otherwise not been possible. Additionally, we have implemented the same redundancy on our dedicated file storage systems.

How has it helped my organization?

The Virtual SAN product has greatly improved the organization's infrastructure by allowing us to create a scalable, highly-available, and cost-effective storage system. It has integrated flawlessly into our Microsoft Hyper-V environment, which, among other limitations, previously required manual intervention to move virtual machines. Our file storage systems also benefited tremendously from the seamless failover we were able to deploy with StarWind.

What is most valuable?

The product's core feature of virtualizing our storage is by far the most valuable. The abstraction allows us to use commodity hardware, and upgrade/modify it on demand without impacting SLAs. It also provides a high degree of mobility, as the virtual SAN can be moved relatively painlessly between on-site devices and the cloud.

What needs improvement?

It's been a while since I checked the associated PowerShell module, but I would like to see an extensive set of cmdlets that could allow for easier automation as well as status management. 

For how long have I used the solution?

Three to five years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

No, the only bug that was encountered over the course of several years was due to our negligence in updating the software in a timely manner. Support engineers were very knowledgeable and able to pinpoint the issue quickly.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

No, we can add additional nodes and hard drives at will without downtime. This is the beauty of virtualizing the storage.

How are customer service and technical support?

Technical support has been fantastic on the very few occasions we've had to call them. The engineers aren't just well versed in the product, but also in Microsoft systems as well as storage/networking architecture.

Response times have been fast, and the support engineers follow-up consistently to make sure the issue is resolved.

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

Yes, we were using a non-clustered Hyper-V setup. The two main problems with that deployment that caused us to switch were:

  • Single points of failure in both our virtualization and storage systems.
    The loss of one node in either system didn’t allow for seamless failover.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup was very straightforward and quick. The engineer used a remote session to quickly get the environment configured and provided insight into the architecture. 

What about the implementation team?

Implementation was handled by an in-house team with help from the StarWind engineer.

What was our ROI?

Our ROI has been very impressive, as the only recurring costs have been the support contracts. As hard drives become cheaper and cheaper, expanding the capacity of our systems has been trivial.

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

As a nonprofit with a limited budget, we are very satisfied with the licensing model provided by StarWind. The initial setup was quick and mostly effortless. Additionally, the support has been superb on the few occasions we've had to reach out to them.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We were unable to evaluate other options because the dedicated SAN systems that provided the same level of redundancy were out of our price range.

What other advice do I have?

The product is solid, simple to use, and well engineered. Very impressed and looking forward to future releases.

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