StarWind Virtual SAN Review

A fast and cost-effective replacement for our existing SAN


What is our primary use case?

We have a four-host VMware environment with over one hundred and forty virtual servers that runs everything on our network except for backups and video storage. We are using Dell R730xd servers filled with a combination of hard drives and SSDs, as well as some PCIe storage for high-performance VMs.

How has it helped my organization?

We were able to create a much faster SAN with much more storage while saving a lot of money. It cost less to build an entire new SAN based on StarWind than to upgrade our old SAN. Now, when we want to expand, we can add storage in any way we want. This allows us to find the best prices without being tied to proprietary hardware.

What is most valuable?

The most valuable feature is the fact that the nodes are Active/Active, and allow us to do upgrades on any node without any downtime. This solution runs on standard hardware and allows us to use servers and storage that we already have, as well as non-proprietary hardware that doesn't cost a fortune.

What needs improvement?

The ability to manage the SAN with vSphere would be nice. It would also be of benefit to have more vSAN-like features, like not having to worry about creating multiple volumes. It would be nice if we could designate pools, or tiers, for storage of different speeds, and then assign rules to new VMs that would automatically place them into the proper pool.

For how long have I used the solution?

Three years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

We have found the software itself to be highly stable. It just works.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

This solution seems highly scalable, with the only limitations being management after a certain point.

How are customer service and technical support?

I had some issues, early on, that ended up being hardware issues on my end. The StarWind support people were more than willing to help me out with them, and this including jumping on remote sessions to figure things out whenever I needed help.

If you previously used a different solution, which one did you use and why did you switch?

We used Compellent (bought by Dell). When we bought it, they discounted it heavily to be competitive, and it was at the low end of what they offered. When we needed to expand it, the costs to do so seemed outrageous.

How was the initial setup?

This initial setup is extremely straightforward. You install the software and then create volumes, which then show up on an iSCSI scan. Nothing complex about it.

What about the implementation team?

We performed the implementation in-house.

What was our ROI?

We were able to build an entirely new SAN with much greater performance and more capacity for less than the cost of just upgrading our previous SAN, so the ROI was immediate.

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

The licensing is pretty simple, and the costs are straightforward. Once you buy the license, you are free to build your own hardware solution based on your needs.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We looked at EMC and HP, but both were also much more expensive than a system we could build ourselves based on the StarWind software.

What other advice do I have?

Unless you need a lot of special third-party integration with other systems, it is a great low-cost solution that gives you whatever level of performance you decide, based on your hardware.

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