StarWind Virtual SAN Review

Reliable, cost-effective, and offers high performance replication for redundancy in clusters

What is our primary use case?

Our company, an IT integrator in Ukraine, conducted a pilot deployment of five two-node Hyper-V failover clusters with CSV build with VSAN for Microsoft Hyper-V. Each cluster consisted of only two hardware nodes with redundant 10Gb/s direct DAC links (no switch) and 1Gb/s uplinks. After four months of testing, we have no doubt in using this exact solution in our customer’s production environment.

We are going to deploy three similar installations this year. Also, we are planning to test the new VSAN for VMware vSphere.

How has it helped my organization?

Being able to create reliable virtual environments with less hardware and no need to pay for expensive enterprise or datacenter grade software. This expends our portfolio with a solution for those customers with low budgets and a lack of highly qualified administrators.  

What is most valuable?

The most valuable features are:

  • Clear licensing model;
  • Rich PowerShell integration for scripting and testing;
  • No need for RAID controller-level mirroring and BBU. Thus we significantly increase effective storage space and speed;
  • Great synchronous replication speed in addition to RAM volume cache;
  • Reliable failover solution with MPIO which requires just two servers running Windows Server 2019, Standard edition.

What needs improvement?

If we could get more within its price, it would be useful to:

  • Be able to collect operational logs with external dedicated syslog or SNMP servers;
  • Be able to encrypt separate LUNs/iSCSI targets with a key stored on external KMS/KMIP servers;
  • Being able to run StarWind vSAN on top of any free UNIX operating system to build a resilient iSCSI/FTP/SMB storage system would be useful.

For how long have I used the solution?

I have been using StarWind Virtual SAN for four months.

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

Previously, we had to use Storage Spaces Direct or VMware vSAN for similar projects. Those two are worth mentioning, but they are more expensive and have a larger administrative footprint.  

How was the initial setup?

Fast and simple installation using GUI with all required manuals, video guides, and a great support team explaining every step of a process. There is no need for highly qualified professionals.

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

The cost, including OPEX, is lower compared to other solutions.

What other advice do I have?

StarWind vSAN is a great solution to create a redundant two-node-only Hyper-V cluster, both for domain or workgroup scenarios.

You should be totally sure to avoid "split brain" in a two-node clustering with a redundant heartbeat, but without any external witness/arbitrator it is not against the solution`s concept.

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