What is our primary use case?
Started with a trial and then moved to the paid version. I have a 3 node cluster, (20) 1TB spinning drives, RAID 0, (3) 800 GB SSD drives, RAID 5 and 18GB RAM cache per node. Using 10G Infiniband for the iSCSI & SYNC network loops. This is to support local disks of VMware Horizon View full clone desktops.
How has it helped my organization?
- Very fast (replaced EMC SAN). Ultra reliable. I had many, many problems with one of the hosts (ended up being a motherboard) and I never lost a thing. Once you get used to it, it is fairly easy to manage, and the tech support is stellar.
- I would love to give it more RAM. Even marginal increases in RAM yield dramatic results. No more boot storms.
- Because of the way VMware has shuffled license "classes" over the years we got ripped off not getting the native VMware vSAN. It seems that maybe for our use case StarWind VSAN is even better and compared to re-negotiating VMware licenses cheaper.
What is most valuable?
Performance, reliability, I love the management console (once I got used to it). It works and it works well. Maybe not exactly a feature but tech support is beyond great. It is fantastic. The techs are supportive, understanding and really care about your implementation. I feel they really want to see you succeed. I'm so pleased with the tech support that I consider it better than any feature.
What needs improvement?
- The documentation is sub-par. The pre-sales documentation and information is sub-par.
- StarWind is not cheap. It is not hard to set up but not a cakewalk either. Having tech support set you up is certainly a good value. I would say the performance cost ratio is great, if not fantastic. Be sure to plan well and ask lots of questions.
- Next release needs to include complete documentation. Even if it's download only or even optional.
For how long have I used the solution?
One to three years.
What do I think about the stability of the solution?
As I mentioned earlier in my review - one of my nodes had a sick motherboard. it would reboot for no good reason and the most inopportune times. With StarWind HA enabled it wouldn't miss a beat. VM's vMotioned across, storage was stable and when the host came back everything was always OK. Not the ideal way to test stability but it passed the test nonetheless.
I am planning on adding another node to the cluster in the coming weeks. It will be compute only and we will be adding (2) Infiniband switches to support that additional host. Note: only need a switch on the iSCSI side. The sync side will not be involved.
What do I think about the scalability of the solution?
Seems that 2 node to 3 node is relatively easy. And 3 nodes or less and you don't need a 10G switch for your fabric. Gives you some options. Beyond that I'm not real sure.
How are customer service and technical support?
Tech support is fantastic. As I mentioned I consider StarWind tech support one of the main features. And if the poo poo hits the fan they will back you up and get you going quickly. I did have issues with quotations from customer support. But we worked it out in the end.
If you previously used a different solution, which one did you use and why did you switch?
We used a conventional hardware SAN. EMC VNXe. It was end of life and I even tried replacing it - EMC could not make it work right. It kept dropping connections. I kept running the old VNXe and discovered StarWind VSAN. Glad I did.
How was the initial setup?
It was complex and had many steps and procedures but if you don't start with the FREE version they walk you through each step and procedure. I did it the hard way of course.
What about the implementation team?
I am the team. I did it in house. Then when we moved over to the paid version tech support helped me correct anything that was missing or wrong.
What was our ROI?
What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?
Be very clear in what you want. I was misquoted what I needed and ended up having to go back to the boss two times. And was running crippled while doing that. It was not pretty. Make sure they know what you have and what you want. Especially sizes. --This really only applies if you do the FREE method first.
Which other solutions did I evaluate?
I thought about another SAN but just didn't want to go down that road. The cost to upgrade my VMware licenses to get vSAN from them just didn't seem worth it.
What other advice do I have?
I think StarWind is a serious contendender. Especially if you don't have the right VMware licenses. But even then - I'm running a 3 node cluster and don't need a separate "witness" box. If you're an SMB and doing VMware you need to consider StarWind as your SAN solution.
Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.