StarWind Virtual SAN Review

High availability, fast recovery via synchronization, and uses standard ethernet switches for storage networking

What is our primary use case?

We have been using VMware vSphere as a fail-safe storage solution in a virtualization environment since 2009. Scaling options were initially two nodes. In industrial operation, there were solutions from three nodes. The storage is deployed on a 1Gb-10Gb ethernet network and HP servers with SAS and SSD drives.

To increase performance, caching technologies based on RAID controller functions were used, and later StarWind L2 Cache functionality was used. In 2020, it is planned to deploy storage that is based on new technologies: Intel Optane memory (DCPMM storage), VMware Vsphere Enterprise Plus 6.7, and 25Gb networks.

We hope that this solution will be able to provide maximum performance using StarWind VSAN for Vsphere.

How has it helped my organization?

This solution made it possible to make a quick start of the project on the transition from a physical environment to a virtual one in 2009 with minimal financial costs. It was possible to fulfill the requirements for reliable data storage, taking into account the transition to paperless document management with the use of digital signatures.

The scalability of the solution made it possible to increase the size of storage, without large additional costs for software. Within one series of servers, it was possible to repair equipment without stopping the use of storage in an industrial environment.

What is most valuable?

It is fast and easy to deploy to StarWind SAN for someone who is not even a professional.

The most valuable features are:

  • Multipath I/O over iSCSI and Ethernet;
  • Use of standard ethernet switches for storage networking;
  • High availability-cluster (active-active), in a configuration of two or more nodes;
  • When using new (warranty) servers, you can forget about the storage service for several years. The users will not even notice the failure of two servers out of three;
  • Caching storage using RAM and SSD media;
  • Fast synchronization in case of minor network failures.

What needs improvement?

For the StarWind VSA vSphere solution, I would like to see a simpler and automated virtual machine installation process in terms of network settings.

The areas where this solution should be improved are:

  • Use as a node server without RAID volumes to ensure a longer period of use of the equipment and faster recovery of the complex;
  • You need a separate server responsible for the main node, which is synchronized in case of failure of one of the nodes;
  • Use SSD caching to write to industrial operation;
  • Monitoring the status of server equipment. Programmatically bypasses the offline state of disks;
  • To circumvent the speed restrictions of the network data when using virtual adapters VMware Vsphere VXNET3.

For how long have I used the solution?

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

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

The solution is stable in the case of failure of one node. When you exit more than one, sometimes there are problems choosing the main one.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

Scaling to the size of the storage, thanks to the creation of a new target, does not affect the performance of the system as a whole.

Scaling by including new nodes-requires timing for synchronization.

How are customer service and technical support?

Over a period of nine years, we applied three times to technical support. In all cases, the problem has been solved.

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

In parallel, the use of EMC ScaleIO. Unlike StarWind VSA, the license price depends on the amount of storage and only one copy of the data is used.

How was the initial setup?

The initial installation in the version under Windows is very simple. In the virtual machine variant, you need to configure the network inside the virtual machines

What about the implementation team?

Implementation was within the company.

What was our ROI?

The solution is cost-effective.

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

The cost of deployment is minimal, almost a product out of the box.

The cost takes into account the number of nodes, so the size of the storage is not important.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We evaluated free options including FreeNAS and Ceph. Our experience was that FreeNAS has low performance and reliability, and Ceph was complex to deploy.

What other advice do I have?

This is an optimal product for large fault-tolerant solutions.

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?


If public cloud, private cloud, or hybrid cloud, which cloud provider do you use?

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