StarWind Virtual SAN Review

Easy to set up and use fault-tolerant volumes that give us peace of mind

What is our primary use case?

We have set up a dual StarWind SAN with a fault-tolerant volume for our critical virtual servers in addition to some non-fault-tolerant volumes for less critical virtual servers in both our corporate HQ and one of our large divisions. The corporate site is using Hyper-V and the other division using VMware ESX. Between the two sites we have 15+ physical servers with over 150 VMs running.

Our corporate site uses Dell servers w/SAS drives for the two StarWind nodes and the division site built two white box type servers using NAS-specific SATA drives. Both solutions have been outstanding.

How has it helped my organization?

The StarWind SAN solution has provided numerous benefits to our organization. First of all, the fault-tolerant volume has saved us twice from hardware failures maintaining the volume without any loss of service or data. In addition, having a centralized SAN has provided outstanding flexibility to our virtual infrastructure. Setup and management of the system are very easy and customer support has always been very responsive and thorough. Management of the StarWind system is mostly non-existent because once it is set up, it just runs.

What is most valuable?

The fault-tolerant volume has been wonderful and provides peace of mind. We have experienced multiple hardware failures at one site and the fault-tolerant volume worked exactly as expected with zero downtime. I really appreciate how easy it is to use the software and set up a fault-tolerant volume.

What needs improvement?

If there was one feature I would like to see it would be a built-in subsystem for managing UPS backups shutdown procedures providing a way to initiate VM shutdown on all host servers, shut down the host servers, then put the fault-tolerant mirroring in standby, and finally shut down the StarWind SANs. 

For how long have I used the solution?

We have been using StarWind Virtual SAN for more than six years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

Stability has been rock solid. The only failures we have experienced have been in hardware, and the fault-tolerant volume worked exactly as expected.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

Scalability is great.

How are customer service and technical support?

Customer service has always been excellent. 

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

We previously used Openfiler then moved to Open-E, and finally Starwind. I would highly recommend StarWind and have in many cases, including for our corporate HQ when we were acquired.

How was the initial setup?

Setup was easy and support is always helpful with any questions or even to walk you through the setup if you are a novice. 

What about the implementation team?

We implemented using our in-house IT.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

Before we purchased StarWind, we evaluated several software solutions and a couple of hardware solutions. In the case of the software solutions, StarWind was the clear winner in performance and ease of use. In comparison to the hardware solutions, it was a lot more economical.

We fully evaluated Open-E and StarWind. StarWind was both easier to set up and manage, and it also outperformed Open-E.

What other advice do I have?

StarWind has been an excellent solution for our virtual storage needs. There are features like remote replication that we don't currently use but could provide excellent disaster recovery for a remote site.

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

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