StarWind Virtual SAN Review

Two-node device gives us storage replication; we can do updates without a complete storage shutdown


What is our primary use case?

We're using it in our DR site for replicating virtual machines from a primary site. We needed a solution that took up less rack space, so we went with something that converged infrastructure. It's providing storage for our virtual platform.

How has it helped my organization?

It provides some fault-tolerance redundancy. Originally, we just had a single point of failure for storage. By having StarWind with a two-node device, we're able to replicate storage and then we can do updates, maintenance, and repairs, without having to bring down our entire storage platform.

It definitely saves us time. We are able to do a lot of our maintenance during production hours, rather than having to schedule after hours. We are able to do maintenance by bringing down one node at a time, rather than having to schedule a complete shutdown, and it's easier to schedule with Dell EMC or whoever else to make sure that they're available for any support during that process. By having StarWind, we're able to minimize maintenance impact and coordinating different support to be available around those timeframes.

It's helped maintain high-availability. Having a second unit replicating is providing us with the availability that we need to make sure our virtual machines have the storage connected they need to be operational.

What is most valuable?

We just use it for the storage replication. We haven't really utilized any of the other StarWind functionality in it.

What needs improvement?

It would be helpful to have a little more insight into what kind of performance the VSAN cluster is utilizing; something that would be more proactive on our side, versus their ProActive Support.

For how long have I used the solution?

Less than one year.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

It has been rock-stable. No issues.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

The scalability is there. We just have a two-node, so everything is connected together, not through a switch. I'm assuming that with the help of StarWind the scalability would be limitless.

We don't have any immediate plans to expand. If we did need to, it would be more of a compute expansion, so we would use the existing storage and use additional compute clusters.

How are customer service and technical support?

We don't use the ProActive Support. We have the Standard level. It's very good. We haven't had any issues with it. They're very responsive and knowledgeable.

The only issues we had were during the implementation. We haven't had to reach out for any post-installation help.

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

We were using a single Dell EMC storage device. There was no software solution. We were looking to build out a DR site. We wanted to avoid having a single point of failure, like we did at our main location. If everything went well during our DR site rollout, we would configure a similar setup in our corporate location.

How was the initial setup?

Surprisingly, the setup was straightforward. We were up and running with the VSAN within a few hours. Then we started doing some production virtual machines. We didn't really run into any issues with the VSAN part of it. The Windows updates caused an issue that we worked through. Support was very helpful with that.

It was a new deployment. There really wasn't any type of timeframe where we had to meet critical deadlines. We did have a plan to get our DR site up and running, and VSAN definitely made it a lot easier for us to do that.

The deployment required two of our IT staff and one person from StarWind.

What about the implementation team?

It was just our internal IT and StarWind Support.

What was our ROI?

It has definitely made things a lot easier to deploy. Our biggest issue was not being tied to a hardware vendor, so if we decide to switch from EMC Dell to HPE or Supermicro, we can continue to use the StarWind solution across the different hardware brands. That's especially important with drive prices changing. We're able to use commodity drives instead of hardware-branded drives. That's an area where there have been some cost savings.

Also, the ability to be hardware agnostic means we're able to shop across vendors for better pricing.

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

It's priced fairly. It was definitely cheaper than the competition. The licensing terms are straightforward and reasonable.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We looked into Tegile and Tintri, about two years prior. We've also looked at some Dell EMC solutions. We were able to go with any hardware vendor we wanted to and the reviews for the software solution showed that it was highly recommended.

What other advice do I have?

Utilize the StarWind installation team to get you up and running. They do everything from start to finish and even make sure that your production workload is running sufficiently.

We haven't used the Log-structured Write Cache feature or the NVMe over Fabrics target. Right now, our solution is all solid-state disk.

In terms of maintenance, a lot of it is scripted or managed automatically. It just takes one person to periodically check in to see if it's performing well and if there are any errors. That person is a systems administrator.

I would give StarWind VSAN a nine out of ten. They have good support. It's reasonably priced. It gives you the ability to scale. It offers good storage availability.

Disclosure: IT Central Station contacted the reviewer to collect the review and to validate authenticity. The reviewer was referred by the vendor, but the review is not subject to editing or approval by the vendor.
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