StarWind Virtual SAN Review

High performance, high availability, and redundancy from our re-purposed servers


What is our primary use case?

We use 2-Node software-defined storage clusters with iSCSI access to 30 TB in HA-targets, and 140 TB in flat targets.

Our environment includes eight vSphere hosts and more than one hundred Windows VMs (file servers, MS SQL servers, Oracle Database servers, MS Exchange servers, etc.) are connected to StarWind's iSCSI targets.

How has it helped my organization?

Existing common-purpose servers were transformed into flexible, redundant, high-performance storage clusters.

We upgrade our storage by ordinary disks, RAID-controllers, 10G network cards, and disk shelves at a low cost. We have no hardware vendor dependency.

What is most valuable?

Active-active work mode leads to true redundancy of storage and allows us to distribute the load between multiple nodes.

Using common-purpose servers and components reduces CapEx.

RAM and SSD caches help to improve performance.

High Availablity targets allow for flexible storage capacity.

Support works fast and solves issues completely.

What needs improvement?

Some configuration options still demand service restarting. For example, changing of cache settings.

Multi-tiering needs to be improved. There is option to use SSD for cache only currently.

For how long have I used the solution?

Seven years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

High-Availability targets in earlier versions had issues when disk array degrades, or the RAID-controller breaks. In the current version, we have no troubles with such things.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

Scalability is great. Just add disks to nodes to create new targets or expand existing ones.

We didn't test targets with multiple devices.

How are customer service and technical support?

Support wants to solve your issue, and they are successful at it. Complex issues are escalated to the next support level in a straightforward manner.

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

We used direct-attached storage before StarWind vSAN.

How was the initial setup?

Setup is simple, especially when you understand the basics of iSCSI technology.

What about the implementation team?

All of our clusters were implemented in-house.

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

Setup is simple, so it's cheap.

Licensing is based on nodes rather than TBs, which means that the users are free to increase storage capacity without putting thought into licensing.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

I had read an article about Intel X520 network cards performance testing with StarWind vSAN, and we chose it. No other options were evaluated.

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