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StarWind HyperConverged Appliance OverviewUNIXBusinessApplication

What is StarWind HyperConverged Appliance?

For SMB, ROBO and Enterprises, who look to bring in quick deployment and operation simplicity to virtualization workloads and reduce related expenses, our solution is StarWind HyperConverged Appliance (HCA). It unifies commodity servers, disks and flash, hypervisor of choice, StarWind Virtual SAN, Microsoft Storage Spaces Direct or VMware Virtual SAN and associated software into a single manageable layer. The HCA supports scale-up by adding disks and flash, and scale-out by adding extra nodes.

StarWind HyperConverged Appliance consists of StarWind Virtual SAN, Microsoft Storage Spaces Direct or VMware Virtual SAN “Ready Nodes”, targeting those, who are building their virtualization infrastructure from scratch. In case there is an existing set of servers, we offer a “software only version”, which is essentially our years proven StarWind Virtual SAN. Basically, it’s the fuel powering StarWind HCA. 

StarWind HyperConverged Appliance Buyer's Guide

Download the StarWind HyperConverged Appliance Buyer's Guide including reviews and more. Updated: September 2021

StarWind HyperConverged Appliance Customers

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StarWind HyperConverged Appliance Video

Pricing Advice

What users are saying about StarWind HyperConverged Appliance pricing:
  • "Our entire package was around $35,000 for everything, including three years of support."
  • "In terms of cost, a storage array is more expensive... For half the cost of Compellent, I got two hosts, more storage, and redundancy."
  • "There is a bit of a start-up cost. Having never used HCAs before, I was reluctant to buy it. I would suggest that you jump in and do it, as I wish I hadn't wasted so much time."
  • "The Nutanix piece was about $45,000, getting close to $50,000 with all the licensing involved, whereas the StarWind was less than half of that, after Microsoft licensing and such."
  • "We looked at Nutanix and found it did almost the same thing but for more money. In fact, StarWind was nearly one-third of the price; it cost us £36,000. That includes five years of monitoring... The Nutanix was near enough £110,000 for relatively the same amount of performance and storage."

StarWind HyperConverged Appliance Reviews

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RB
IT Manager at Bonitas Trust
Real User
Top 10
Because it's all built into one box, they could offer us the majority of the functionality we wanted, affordably

Pros and Cons

  • "What makes it valuable is the high-availability. In the education field, when you've got students in classrooms, any loss of service disrupts the lessons to a point that the whole lesson is affected. For part of the business which isn't business-critical, to have a little bit of a hiccup wouldn't be such a big thing, but here, it's the high availability of service that is important."
  • "There is room for improvement in the setup and installation phase. We had massive problems connecting the StarWind appliances to our network infrastructure. That wasn't necessarily a StarWind problem. I don't know if their business partner in the UK wasn't used to having to deal with the supply of the cabling infrastructure, but that's where the problems started."

What is our primary use case?

What we use it for is resilience in our Hyper-V cluster, for both the guests and the data. We have two appliances split between two physical comms rooms onsite. If we lost the power or network to one comms room, all of the guests and all of the data residing in the second comms room would be dynamically available.

How has it helped my organization?

Overall, the solution has improved our system's performance. We were with Dell products before and those products were getting towards seven years old so they were at end-of-life. This product has an element of SSD, in our particular solution. The way that the system uses SSDs to cache out load onto the SSDs for regularly-used data means that it is a much better and more modern solution. We can definitely see that in the performance.

For example, we use some database services for our management information system that manages all the kids' data. There are a lot of ways that that information is accessed, through different applications, both internally and externally. Parents might be pulling attendance information from that service. The performance of the servers in that environment is much improved on the StarWind product over the standard Hyper-V host. The fact that the storage and the hosts are on exactly the same hardware reduces the network latency and all the other bits that contribute to the speed as well.

StarWind has also saved our organization money. It has probably halved the cost of a full SAN and individual-host solution.

What is most valuable?

What makes it valuable is the high-availability. In the education field, when you've got students in classrooms, any loss of service disrupts the lessons to a point that the whole lesson is affected. For part of the business which isn't business-critical, to have a little bit of a hiccup wouldn't be such a big thing, but here, it's the high availability of service that is important.

Also, the ProActive Premium Support has picked up some issues that we wouldn't necessarily have noticed ourselves because the depth of monitoring is pretty aggressive. You have to resolve those issues with StarWind by giving them updated logs, so it does put an onus on you that forces you to be doing a better job. But in terms of day-to-day monitoring, we still do that for each of the servers within it to see if there are any specific problems that are causing performance issues. Ours is probably more of a high-level monitoring than StarWind does in its ProActive monitoring.

So, there are levels to it. They come up with some good stuff in the ProActive monitoring that we wouldn't necessarily have noticed very quickly. The upshot is that you then have to work with them to troubleshoot that issue.

We still have to do a lot of stuff that StarWind doesn't do in their ProActive monitoring, but it gives us peace of mind that somebody else is watching the services 24 hours a day, so that we're notified if there's a potential issue. All the issues that we've had have been potential problems that have been picked up and resolved before they became problems. That's the real positive spin: Because it's proactive, it's stopping you from actually having the issue that would affect end-users.

We do use network monitoring tools to monitor the network and the core processing of all of the servers in our environment, including the StarWind, but we do leave the higher-end stuff to the ProActive Support guys. There are only two of us who are full-time in IT in our organization, so we can't really afford to have bought into something that would have had a big overhead in terms of day-to-day management. StarWind is one of those things that, once it's set up and working properly, there are some checks that you would do naturally on a daily or weekly basis, but there's a whole raft of reporting tools and you're notified if there's a potential problem. It is a put-it-in-and-off-you-go kind of thing. Once that initial commissioning has been done and it's in and working, it's pretty seamless.

For how long have I used the solution?

We bought into StarWind in the summer of 2019, so it's been a little over half-a-year.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

In terms of the solution's hardware footprint, it's very scalable. It's important that you look at future-proofing as much as possible when you buy the product. It's important that you think about three to five years' worth of growth. The ability to upgrade is always there, but that's going to come at a cost later on. Obviously, technologies change reasonably quickly — certainly server technologies, disks, and arrays, etc. So it's good, if you want them to be truly resilient with each other, to keep them at one state of firmware revision, rate controllers, all running at the same level, etc.

For us, scalability is an interesting thing because we have two comms rooms and we want to keep things resilient between those two comms rooms. We have the option, obviously, to increase the space and add additional memory, just like with any other server. We could add a third StarWind appliance and increase our capacity in that way. Clearly, if we were going to do that, our resilience wouldn't be quite equally spread because we'd have two appliances in one comms room and one in another. For us, there are many more options than we would have with a traditional SAN. Certainly, we're not constrained by it in any way.

How are customer service and technical support?

The technical support from StarWind is excellent. The guys really know what they're doing, and they're really supportive and helpful. Their response is excellent. You feel really looked after. There is nothing that is too much trouble. You could ask them a very basic question if you were concerned about something to do with your own infrastructure that was affected by StarWind, and they're quite happy to get involved.

There's good continuity. You get a support guy dealing with you on a particular problem and he stays with it through to resolution. You're not dealing with a lot of different people. Much of the time you get the same two or three guys dealing with your account, so you know the people that you're going to be talking to and dealing with. I really couldn't rate it more highly, on a personal level. They're very proactive and very responsive.

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

We had a Dell EqualLogic solution with multiple Hyper-V hosts and resilient SANs before we migrated to StarWind. For us, StarWind was a software option that would potentially reduce our costs and give us the same level of resilience that we had before. We've also increased performance and capacity.

If we had to replace the same technology in a Dell EqualLogic product, or whatever the new SAN product that they might have is called, it would cost us significantly more. Being in education, at the moment, money is quite tight. What we wanted is the best possible resilient solution at a good price point. That's what we got from it.

Also, the StarWind guys worked really hard to make the right kind of compromises to give us both the performance that we needed and a price we could afford. That's another element to this. When you buy a solution from Dell, you have to buy a particular model. There is an element of configuration, and there are discounts available depending on the time of the month or where you are in that calendar year — offers and deals to schools. Whereas StarWind was prepared to drill right down into the solution, look at exactly what we needed it to do, and make the compromises in the right places. So we still got the same level of resilience that we had before, but we got improved performance and improved capacity at a much cheaper price.

How was the initial setup?

There is room for improvement in the setup and installation phase. We had massive problems connecting the StarWind appliances to our network infrastructure. That wasn't necessarily a StarWind problem. I don't know if their business partner in the UK wasn't used to having to deal with the supply of the cabling infrastructure, but that's where the problems started.

Because of the way we are funded, I could spend the money only once. I have to write a business case for everything we do and I put all the costs in that business case. What I can't do is go off and buy a load of additional stuff because I should have added it to the business case. So the agreement was that the cabling for our infrastructure would be supplied with the StarWind but, unfortunately, they just couldn't do that. They supplied the wrong cables and the wrong number of cables. In the end, I had to go and buy all the equipment myself to do it, because they just didn't seem to be able to deal with it. I think the problem was with the UK side, with whomever they outsource the setup and installation to in the UK. If it had been a solution where they'd had to come onsite and install it, it would have been an absolute mess.

We were quoted three to four weeks for the deployment time but, in the end, it took about six or seven weeks.

We did have an implementation strategy for this product, but it all went out the window when we didn't get the cabling right. Because it's a school, the kids were on their summer break from the end of July through until the beginning of September. We had plans to do work in that time but, in the end, we just couldn't do that work because we didn't get the StarWind in early enough to do it. Some of that was our fault. We did order the product later than we wanted because we were looking at HPE, Dell, and StarWind together. But if we hadn't had the issue with the cabling, a weeks-long issue, we would have been a lot more successful in the summer.

Because that's the only time we really get a chance to do anything big on our infrastructure, some of the work we would have done in this past September will now have to be done in August of this year.

What about the implementation team?

Our experience with the StarWind partner was not the best. We spent a lot of time spec-ing and giving them the specs of every element of our network. When they failed to deliver it and we missed a number of deadline dates on the installation because of it, I just phoned up a cabling company, gave them all the details, and I had the right cables the very next day. So it wasn't a massive technical challenge. It just needed someone to take ownership of it. I don't know whether it was a financial thing or something else, but I've not been reimbursed for those cables. So in the end, I did overspend on the project. If you're going to write a business case and you're going to put the costs in it, you want those costs to be right.

In the whole scheme of things, it's not the end of the world, but was annoying. It could certainly be improved.

What was our ROI?

If we had gotten the StarWind installed more quickly, we would have migrated more to it than we have currently. Our seven years on our existing Dell solution just expired about a month ago. We've migrated the majority of our infrastructure onto the StarWind appliances, but we haven't fully migrated for the reasons I implied before. Until the summer, this year, we won't be able to migrate some elements, which is just a little bit frustrating. So at the moment, those elements are running on Dell solutions that are no longer covered by any hardware maintenance. That is a risk that I would have rather avoided.

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

We bought a seven-year solution including licensing, hardware maintenance, and ProActive Support. For us, in a school, we tend to buy high-end equipment — hardware and servers — and look at them in terms of a seven-year lifespan. That's a lot more than it would be in industry, but we ideally try to specify the equipment to have that length of life, if possible, in terms of capacity; or at the very least have the option to upgrade within that time. So, our one-off costs when we bought the equipment included seven years' worth of licensing and everything else that goes with it.

We paid it all upfront.

Obviously we pay our Microsoft licensing separately and that licensing covers the operating system on the StarWind appliances.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We looked at Microsoft storage but what we wanted was the resilience and the dynamic replication of data across two comms rooms. Before, we did that with EqualLogic SANs and physical Hyper-V hosts, whereas now, what we've got is the storage and the hosts in one box in each comms room, with StarWind.

We looked at multiple solutions, including HPE and Dell. Dell had been our partner up until this point, but the truth of the matter is that we couldn't afford their products anymore. The cost of their products had just moved out of the reach of a school with the kind of funding we have.

All these products have the ability to do what we wanted to do: real-time failover, real-time data between both comms rooms. The step up to achieve with some of the more well-known players is quite large though. In fact, it's an order of magnitude in terms of money. In layman's language, there are tiers, or steps, that you would have to climb to get more functionality. For example, you could start including cloud, cloud storage, and more. But the jumps and the tiers with StarWind are much closer together. The costs in taking those different steps are still there, but they are much more reasonable. That's because they're wrapping up all the technology in one box, rather than buying separate boxes for separate things.

Unfortunately, in my experience, there is quite a turnaround of technical guys within the organizations you deal with, and it's not easy to get continuity from the people at most organizations to look at your particular problems. What they always want to do is sell you their "gold" product, which is fantastic and very exciting, but if you can't afford it, you can't afford it. That was frustrating for me.

I would speak to Dell, I would speak to HPE, and they would jump up in the air and say, "Oh yeah, great. We can sell you one of those, and six of these, and that will do it. Fantastic." And that would do it. But we just didn't have that kind of money. And when we went back to the table and said, "Well, that's really great, but we can't really afford that," their reaction was, "Oh, well, that's not very interesting, because we will have to this product in instead. And then you can't do this, and you can't do that." And then it was not worth buying from our perspective.

With StarWind, they were much more flexible in looking at compromises and, because it's all built into one box, they could offer us opportunities to do things in a different way and still get the majority of the functionality we wanted. With a lot of the bigger players, if you bought the kind of functionality we wanted, you got a lot of other stuff that we weren't going to use, and obviously that was built into the price. With StarWind you can pick and choose, a little bit more, which elements you want to adopt and use, without having to go to the next, big, more expensive box or software revision.

What other advice do I have?

My advice is to check it out. Everybody has a tick-box of what they want to achieve with a product. If you've got that, apply it to StarWind. Give them a chance to offer you a solution that meets all those ticks in those boxes, because I think they can do it at a very good price. There isn't really a compromise in that in any way. You're getting a really good solution at a really good price, and you're not actually making any compromises.

The biggest eyeopener for me is that there are solutions out there that don't have to cost a lot of money for a very robust and resilient solution. StarWind gives you everything that you're going to get from a traditional SAN host in one box. You get really high-grade proactive support, and the solution is scalable and cost-effective. If we hadn't had the issues with the implementation, I would be saying it is definitely on par with the more recognized players. 

I'd have no hesitation in recommending it, once it has been installed, set up, and configured. It is definitely a challenger among the more traditional and more industry-recognized solutions. The others, Dell, HPE, etc., are all looking more into software storage and Microsoft storage and solutions to fill in those gaps between the tiers in their products. But I think StarWind has gotten there first. 

StarWind's product is very nice and very user-friendly as well. It's very understandable from a higher-level technical point of view. There are no smoke and mirrors with it either. They're not hiding anything, they're not making it unavailable to their customers. It's all very open-book and that gives you an element of comfort when you're making a decision to move away from the more traditional ways of doing it. StarWind's openness, and the information that's available to you on their product, and how the product is going to be implemented and used, allays a lot of those fears.

Once it's installed, I would happily give it an eight or a nine out of 10. It does exactly what it says on the tin, in our experience with it.

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

On-premises
Disclosure: IT Central Station contacted the reviewer to collect the review and to validate authenticity. The reviewer was referred by the vendor, but the review is not subject to editing or approval by the vendor.
HunterMorgan
Owner at Data Barn
Consultant
Top 5
All of the failovers and converged storage are pre-configured, saving me significant time, and the support is high-level

Pros and Cons

  • "The hardware footprint is great. We've got two 2U servers which replaced four 2U servers. Granted, they were about three years old at that point, but we actually increased our processing capacity by about 50 percent while keeping our storage capacity about the same. We've actually been able to downgrade to a half rack from a full rack because we've gotten rid of some of our network equipment and some of our additional storage arrays."
  • "That situation, where Dell EMC servers were going down, has been my only real difficulty... it ended up being something that the wider audience of Dell EMC was actually aware of as an issue. Neither the StarWind technicians nor the Dell EMC technicians were able to actually identify that problem sooner than a week or so... The communication between Dell EMC support and StarWind support, in that particular scenario, left something to be desired, for me. I did express those concerns to StarWind and they were very responsive to that."

What is our primary use case?

I'm a value-added reseller for Microsoft. I do some other stuff on these HCAs too, but that's the easiest way to describe it. 

I'm providing a remote workspace for a special, select subgroup of clients who are running a pretty specific product called Infor. I'm pretty experienced with hosting and supporting this particular product, so I decided to also wrap a value-added reselling business around it so that I could give them a full remote workspace, instead of just support for their product.

We're running virtualized workloads for 300 or 400 users at this point. Our goal is to have them log in every day in and run all of their day-to-day work on these virtualized workloads.

How has it helped my organization?

The solution has probably saved me 100 hours of implementation work. 

In terms of support, we're probably on the low end of requirements because we don't have a lot of advanced stuff going on. We just have virtualized workloads, so once they're configured they're done. But we've had a couple of longer support cases, and over the course of a month, it has saved me, on average, six to eight hours. That's as a one-man shop. If we grow and we start adding more HCAs, I imagine that that time saved increases pretty linearly. The support is really a convenience. I could always schedule my own time to take care of issues, but if there's a minor storage or networking issue, it's nice to bring someone in. 

The major way it has changed our organization is that we came from a four-node, pure Microsoft setup, where we were using Storage Spaces Direct. StarWind is able to run on two nodes, so the hardware cost is quite a bit lower. They include support, so I don't need to keep someone on call in order to handle storage issues. And the fact that they were able to over-spec us for a reasonable price has meant that, over the past six months, I haven't had to worry about overhead and I haven't had to worry about budgeting any more systems. We have enough headspace to expand another 50 percent or so before I'll ever need to invest in direct processing hardware again. And when I do decide to invest more in hardware, I'm perfectly confident that they would just ship us a ready-to-go unit that can be plugged in with three cables and it's off and running.

What is most valuable?

I have burned a lot of time in the past configuring stuff like this myself, so the ability to pay a little bit of extra money to have something like this delivered, where all of the failovers are already configured, and all of the converged storage is already configured, and it's really just a blank slate to start building Hyper-V workloads on, is valuable. The fact that it's preconfigured and that there is a high level of support, so that I don't need to hire someone in order to do all this, has been my favorite feature.

Also, the hardware footprint is great. We've got two 2U servers which replaced four 2U servers. Granted, they were about three years old at that point, but we actually increased our processing capacity by about 50 percent while keeping our storage capacity about the same. We've actually been able to downgrade to a half rack from a full rack because we've gotten rid of some of our network equipment and some of our additional storage arrays. And the fact that that's all contained within 4Us of space is a complete 180 from the strategy we had before, which was four processing units and a few storage arrays. It's cut down on the amount of cabling we have to deal with by about 80 percent, so it's been a pretty big deal for the data center on the physical side of things.

The improved performance has scaled pretty well with the cost. I wouldn't say that the cost of performance is significantly lower. The main benefit is the cost of configuration and ongoing support. We're probably not saving a significant amount on hardware costs, but if I'm saving some 50 percent of my troubleshooting and hardware support time, we're probably saving, as a rough ballpark figure, $10,000 a year. If I were to hire even a part-time person to take care of just the hardware stuff that I'm now not having to take care of, it would be well over $10,000 a year to have a hardware architect available.

In addition, StarWind HCA has increased redundancy for us. Early on, just a couple of months into the tenancy, we had a pretty major hardware issue with one of the hosts, to the point where it was rebooting a few times a day. That was actually all Dell EMC's fault and had nothing to do with StarWind. Even with that host going up and down several times a day, there was only a little bit of inconvenience during the lag time when a live migration occurred from one server to the other, and we were up and running that entire time. We didn't incur any direct downtime over the course of a week-and-a-half where, literally, 50 percent of our processing units were going down three or four times a day. As frustrating as that experience was, it really helped strengthen my faith in StarWind solutions.

What needs improvement?

That situation, where Dell EMC servers were going down, has been my only real difficulty. I do understand that we were using refurbished Dell EMC hardware, so that may have played into the difficulties we were having. But at the end of the day, it ended up being something that the wider audience of Dell EMC was actually aware of as an issue. Neither the StarWind technicians nor the Dell EMC technicians were able to actually identify that problem sooner than a week or so. I found after, doing my own diagnosis and my own technician work, that there was actually a solution out there that many people Dell EMC's forums were aware of. The communication between Dell EMC support and StarWind support, in that particular scenario, left something to be desired, for me. 

I did express those concerns to StarWind and they were very responsive to that. They seem to really appreciate the feedback. I'm hoping that there has been a change that has already been enacted by them as a result.

For how long have I used the solution?

We installed in March of this year, so we're relatively new. I believe we got refurbished, seventh-generation HCAs.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

The stability has been great, with the exception of that one issue I mentioned which seemed to be Dell EMC hardware-specific. That even spoke to StarWind's stability in the sense that we had one host going down regularly without downtime.

We've had zero issues directly caused by StarWind. Everything is contained within the VM guests. Those are just configuration and Windows Server problems. This is definitely the most stable hardware we've had, and I've been involved in this business for eight years, on various stages of hardware. These past six months have been the lowest in terms of overhead so far.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

The scalability seems really good. I haven't hit the need for scalability yet, but it seems to scale pretty linearly with the exception of storage. 

The idea is that all the storage is needed between all the hosts. So if we needed to increase our processing capacity, that would scale perfectly linearly. We would spend another X dollars to increase our capacity by 50 percent with an identical server.

I haven't explored storage capacity yet because we're a pretty low-storage-capacity company. But it seems like, with their additional products that aren't HCAs, their storage arrays, that you would be able to increase storage capacity on level with your costs as well. So you're not incurring a lot of overhead for interconnectivity or additional redundancy. At least that's my impression.

At the moment we're probably at 60 or 80 percent capacity across the board in all system resources, including networking. It's a really even 60 or 80 percent. If we can grow the business by another half next year, we'll be at 100 percent capacity. At that point, it would start making a lot of sense to look at adding another host because, if one fails and we have to fail over, we would effectively need to throttle everyone backed by 50 percent.

How are customer service and technical support?

We don't use the proactive part of support a whole lot but that's really because we're a very simple setup at the moment. They've come to me a couple of times when they noticed some things going wrong, but that's usually when I'm in there reconfiguring things or rebooting servers. When our proactive support expires we'll probably renew because of the fact that they've been really on top of issues, whether or not I've already been aware of them. 

The part where support has really saved a lot of time is not really directly due to the proactive part of it. It has had to do with the fact that when I do need help, if storage is running slower, or if I see that there's some kind of memory-usage issue on the hosts, they're usually back to me in probably half an hour, at the very most, with a solution.

The main thing I've enjoyed from them is the really fast response when I do need help with reconfiguring or the like. I actually just reached out last week to try and make some networking changes. I got a response in about five minutes and I had an actual solution, with an advanced-tech ready to help me, within about 30 minutes. I don't know if that has anything to do with the proactive part of their support but I would imagine — putting myself in their shoes — that having a customer who is part of proactive support probably accelerates their response a little bit.

I've been really impressed with StarWind so far. They've been really helpful.

I haven't had to talk to StarWind at all for about a month. The last thing was a major networking upgrade request and I was really pleased with their response time. From a small-shop perspective, this is probably the best experience I've ever had in terms of the backing hardware for the services we provide. It's been very nice.

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

The solution this replaced was all home-brewed. It was all running on a Windows Server. We had a backplane connected to a few different storage area network arrays. It worked well but it incurred quite a bit of overhead just to manage it. If you've ever heard of people working with just Microsoft Failover Cluster Manager with backplanes, it was a bear, both to physically connect and to manage.

The concept of an HCA was actually kind of new to me, at the time. We had been under the practice of putting processing and volatile memory on one box and putting all of our storage into other boxes. That introduced some issues with single points of failure: If your switch fails then your storage is done and if your network switch fails then your communication is done.

I had started researching Microsoft Storage Spaces Direct, which I believe was a new feature in 2016. StarWind must have a lot of search engine optimization related to Storage Spaces Direct, because they ended up coming up, really early, as an alternative. They're very active on Spiceworks and they were constantly in threads about Storage Spaces and putting their product out there. I ended up researching them and the total cost of ownership, hardware-wise, was possibly a little bit higher than bringing up your own, but the fact that support and configuration were included in that price, made it a slam-dunk for us.

How was the initial setup?

The implementation was fairly simple.

I had a really big, heavy pair of Dell EMC server boxes delivered to my workplace. I had to schedule some time to go physically into the data center, which is hosted two miles away from my office. The entire installation procedure was really a matter of unbox, throw the rails in, throw the servers on the rails. Each server then needed two power cords and two SFP connections between the servers themselves. And, bare minimum, they need one management connection to whatever your local Cat 5 switch is. That was it. That was really all that that needed to be configured, hardware-wise. 

Once those were up and running, we spent maybe 45 minutes just getting the initial Hyper-V configuration done, and I was off and running. I was able to create and migrate VMs at will. No downtime, no reconfiguration, and literally nothing else.

All together it took about two hours for completely setting up the hardware and getting Hyper-V ready to create guests.

We didn't have an implementation plan. Physically, we had room in our racks and spaces for the power supplies and the cables. The only planning was that I gave StarWind a half-day's heads-up that I was going to get everything installed. They were on the phone and on a remote support session at pretty much the minute that I was ready to do the software side of things.

I enlisted some help to get things physically installed. Once that was done, it was just me and one StarWind engineer. We had to be on the phone for about an hour in total over that entire process. It was just me and that one person. They seem to have their process petty down pat. He was flying through the configuration and I was just sitting in the back seat watching.

What was our ROI?

We haven't seen ROI yet because we're a pretty low-sales company. We're just sticking with who we have at the moment because we need some more people who are experienced with this Infor product in order to grow the business much. I would expect that we will break even with our hardware investment within the first quarter of the coming year.

That's not bad at all because that will end up being almost right at the one-year mark. Even if we had to throw those servers in the trash at that point we would be at zero loss.

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

In terms of the hardware pricing, we ended up going with refurbished machines because we're not in quite as critical a situation as other service providers may be. The pricing is pretty comparable between StarWind and other solutions, if you're just talking about hardware and a general support plan. The value starts to come back in a very real way with StarWind when you talk about the reliability of both the hardware and the support structure itself.

Our entire package was around $35,000 for everything, including three years of support.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We evaluated other options and, overall, the thing that made us go with StarWind was really the community involvement, mostly on Spiceworks. They're on Reddit too. Seeing how active they were in proactive troubleshooting and in answering sales questions for whoever was asking was a big deal. The fact they had extra manpower to handle that kind of stuff speaks really well to how efficient their support structure is.

What other advice do I have?

Look long and hard at your current hardware. There is a significant utility in sticking with a single vendor for stuff like this. If you are at that point where you need to refresh pretty much your entire environment, or a significant portion of it, I would say you should seriously look at StarWind because they would potentially be able to take care of just about everything, hardware-wise, as long as you're a small enough shop and you're ready to really commit.

Up until implementation, in March of this year, we were very reliant on ourselves and sub-contractors to support the hardware configuration and make sure everything was up and running. We had to be super-proactive about being on top of Microsoft issues because anything that is 100 percent reliant on Microsoft can go completely haywire if the wrong Windows Update runs. So the biggest change, and the biggest thing that we learned, is that it's nice to be able to rely on an external company, as long as they know what they're doing. We've been able to call StarWind for anything to do with the framework we're built on or anything to do with the substrate that Hyper-V is running on, no matter what happens, and know they're going to take care of it.

I'm the only one dealing with administration or maintenance of the HCA and it will probably stay that way, just for security concerns. It's a lot easier to stay compliant if I'm the only person that can do any of that. We do subcontract to other people for support of our customer VMs, but that's a whole different game. That's all built on the StarWind framework.

StarWind is an easy 10 out of 10.

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

On-premises
Disclosure: IT Central Station contacted the reviewer to collect the review and to validate authenticity. The reviewer was referred by the vendor, but the review is not subject to editing or approval by the vendor.
Learn what your peers think about StarWind HyperConverged Appliance. Get advice and tips from experienced pros sharing their opinions. Updated: September 2021.
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RF
Systems Admin at a tech vendor with 201-500 employees
Real User
Top 5
Provides us with cost-effective redundancy and a significantly smaller footprint

Pros and Cons

  • "The most valuable features of the solution are the redundancy and its cost. I used to have a SAN, a Dell EMC EqualLogic. Unfortunately, it was they call an "inverted pyramid of doom." It was two or three hosts, two switches, and one storage array at the very bottom. But the SAN, the storage array at the very bottom, is a single point of failure..."
  • "One area for improvement of the solution is that I had to get Windows, which I really didn't want because of the extra maintenance or overhead, as well as viruses, etc. It's going to take time for them to get their Linux to that point. They already have Linux but it's not as mature and they don't really support it on HCAs. They have it for individuals who want to use it on their servers, but not on HCAs."

What is our primary use case?

We use it for virtualization related to development. We have two entities in our company. One is corporate, a subcontractor for NASA. And the other one is an electronic timesheet system. For the corporate side, it's mainly a file server. And we use StarWind HCA for development of the electronic timesheet system. It provides us VMs and tools.

How has it helped my organization?

We can do updates without any problems. We can move all my VMs to one host and do updates on the other host. We can bring it down, move everything over to the other host, and then update the other host and bring it down.

In terms of redundancy, with my last solution, if we had two VMware hosts and one host went down, everything would transfer over to the other host. StarWind HCA is the same concept except that we don't have the single point of failure of the storage array anymore. It's all in the hosts. We don't have to worry about the storage going down. It used to be that if the storage array went down, we were dead in the water with both hosts.

Our only real choice, other than StarWind, was to buy a Dell EMC Compellent which would have been double the cost and would still be just one Compellent. So if we wanted redundancy, we would have had to put together a solution that would triple or quadruple the cost. StarWind saved us a considerable amount of money.

What is most valuable?

The most valuable features of the solution are the redundancy and its cost. I used to have a SAN, a Dell EMC EqualLogic. Unfortunately, it was what they call an "inverted pyramid of doom." It was two or three hosts, two switches, and one storage array at the very bottom. But the SAN, the storage array at the very bottom, is a single point of failure, and many people, including me in the past, don't take that into consideration.

The SAN was working for us, but I thought about the fact that it is a single point of failure. Anything could, possibly, take it out, even though it might have redundant hardware inside it: controllers, power, hard drives. The entire unit itself is a single point of failure. If updates were required to an EqualLogic, we would have to take down everything, just to be on the safe side. We'd have to shut down all the VMs. And those updates could always mess up the entire unit and, then, it's a single point of failure and all your infrastructure and VMs are down.

In terms of cost, a storage array is more expensive. It was time to renew our storage array. It was end-of-support, end-of-life, and the EqualLogic line is supposedly being phased out. The next in line is Dell EMC Compellent and we would have had to upgrade to that. It is highly expensive. For half the cost of Compellent, I got two hosts, more storage, and redundancy.

StarWind HCA also has a much better footprint because with a full-blown SAN you have one storage array, or in some cases two, as well as two switches and two or three hosts. Those two hosts are usually 2U each, and the storage array is 2U, and the switches are usually 1U each. We were able to shrink it all down to two hosts that contain all the storage, the switches or the all the storage networking, and the host or the compute/CPU power. In total, the HCA is just two hosts and they're both 2U. So our footprint was reduced to just 4U.

What needs improvement?

One area for improvement of the solution is that I had to get the HCAs with Windows Server installed to install the StarWind SAN software on, which I really didn't want because of the extra maintenance or overhead, as well as viruses, etc. It's going to take time for them to get their Linux implementation to that point. They already have Linux but it's not as mature and they don't really support it on HCAs. They have it for individuals who want to use it on their servers, but not on HCAs.

With Windows, there's always that fear that, if you add any software to it, if you need to configure monitoring software or the like, DLL conflicts and blue screens can result. Similarly, if you use Windows Update, you can get blue screens. Or, there have been times where an antivirus company has made a mistake regarding its virus definitions and it took down the server. The antivirus blocked or deleted a legitimate OS file that it thought was a virus. So I don't run antivirus on the Windows Servers VMs that run the StarWind SAN software. At the same time, I've had to configure Windows Firewall to block everything and only allow any kind of traffic going to the server. The only thing I allow is just Remote Desktop so I can manage it. But even Remote Desktop, in the recent months, has had exploits. I keep on having to do Windows Updates.

I prefer Linux because it's not as targeted. Don't get me wrong; it is targeted for viruses and all, but not like Windows Server.

For how long have I used the solution?

We've been using it for a few months.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

The solution has been stable so far..

How are customer service and technical support?

We are using the solution's ProActive Premium Support but it hasn't really reduced our monitoring efforts since we've only been using it for two or three months. We haven't had any issues come up where we've had to use it. I still do all the monitoring of my VMs and the hardware, the HCAs. However, in regard to the support itself, I do like that it's all-in-one. If I need support I call one vendor and they take care of everything. They call Dell EMC, they call VMware and, of course, they take care of the StarWind software. So it is nice.

Plus, each person I've talked to — and I've talked to multiple people there — has been very knowledgeable. I didn't get the sense that any of them were new or learning or that they didn't know what they were talking about. All of them are very knowledgeable and friendly.

How was the initial setup?

I wouldn't say the initial setup was completely straightforward but it's not too complex. I did have a lot of calls with support to help me get it up and running, but I did the majority of the cabling and some of the configuration of the VMs. They took care of many other things that I would not have known to do, but it wasn't too bad.

The deployment took about a month. I had other things I had to do; I'm always doing a lot of things. It probably took longer than it could have taken.

The implementation strategy was that I have all iSCSI. Our previous SAN had iSCSI with RJ45 switches. With the help of StarWind and Dell EMC, I was able to tie in and connect the HCAs to my SAN and see the data stores on the SAN from the HCAs. When the time came, I was able to migrate everything. I placed all the VMware hosts into one vCenter but two different clusters. I was able to simply vMotion them. Once I got the HCAs up and running, configured and set up, I was able to vMotion all the VMs from my old storage array to these HCAs.

What about the implementation team?

Overall, I did like the hardware installation and the cabling and they helped me configure the StarWind software. It was about half and half.

They were top-notch and professional. They know their stuff. I was always able to get them online when needed. Their support was very good.

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

Regarding licensing fees, the caveat is that with the Windows-based OS, we have to pay for that licensing for both hosts. That's is another reason I wanted Linux. As for VMware, we already had VMware licenses, so we just took those from our old hosts and applied them to these hosts.

There is also a cost for the ProActive Premium Support and, on top of that, is support for the Dell EMC hardware itself. We got four-hour, mission-critical, which is what we have on everything else.

Because of the absolute redundancy of the two HCA hosts, which they say can tolerate a failure of one host plus one drive, you might be able to save a little bit of money by bumping down the support of the servers and not need four-hour, mission-critical support. You could bump it down and wait for parts to arrive the next day instead of four hours.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

I looked at Dell EMC storage. The only option was Compellent, which was highly expensive. I looked at Nutanix which was still highly expensive.

I also looked at StorPool; I liked the idea behind it, but I didn't like their implementation. It's roughly the same concept but requires more hardware. They take a bunch of servers that are not purely storage servers but which have the compute and memory. It's a rack mount server with all the storage inside and they aggregate the storage.

StarWind was all-in-one and consolidated on two servers. StorPool would have been three servers just for the storage. I would have had to buy two more new hosts to be the compute.

What other advice do I have?

I love StarWind HCA because of the cost and the redundancy. I love the service, the support. Across the board, it was the best choice. I love the HCA because it's all-in-one and everything is pre-configured. I could have bought my own servers but it would have taken longer to bring up the environment. It would have been less expensive, but StarWind's hardware and software support and the compatibility of all the hardware components add a little bit more to the reliability of the system. That's why I went with the HCA instead of doing it myself. I certainly could have done it myself if I had more time. But, as a small business with one or two people managing all the IT, it was the best choice.

We have two environments, one at the office and one at the data center. This implementation was a trial of sorts, but looking to the future I'm going to implement this for our data center, where we have a standard SAN like we did before this HCA implementation.

The solution has not improved our system performance. There were some things that we couldn't foresee or we didn't test, like restoring databases. It's a little bit slower there. That's more a failure on our part, not having tested it out, rather than StarWind's failure.

We have a hybrid HCA as far as our drives go. Some are flash drives and others are just regular spindle drives. The solution is supposed to move things into the SSDs and then give the appropriate power, from what I remember them telling me. But in one particular case, one of the developers, who is also a database admin, was restoring a file and he said it took way longer than usual. That was one thing we couldn't assess during our assessment of what kind of drives we needed. In this case, we probably would have done better having all flash drives. It might have been overkill — it depends on what you need. But we should have made it all flash drives and we probably wouldn't have had any problems. Again, that's not anything on StarWind's part.

Everything else, performance-wise for all the other VMs that we have that are not as intensive as a database, it works just fine. We have no complaints about the performance in terms of using it as a file server or for web-based development utilities.

We're a small company. We have two entities that these HCAs provide service to. We have about 30 to 40 employees. Of them, 10 or more are on the corporate/sub-contracting side. The rest work on our electronic timesheet system, whether they're in development or technical support. In terms of deployment and maintenance of StarWind, it is just me.

StarWind gives you choices of servers, as far as the HCA goes. It was either all-new certified Dell EMC equipment or equipment from another company that they can place these servers on. With our being an all-Dell EMC shop, and my being familiar with Dell, I opted for all-Dell EMC hardware.

Being a small business, we don't have another product alongside it. It is the product. So it gets 100 percent usage. I don't see us expanding our usage in the future. The power and the storage should last us for, hopefully, the next seven years, which is roughly the Dell EMC support contract life expectancy. We use our servers for seven years and, at the end of the support, we refresh and buy brand-new servers.

Nothing stands out, in terms of problems or issues. They helped me and got everything resolved that I had problems with. I would give it a 10 out of 10.

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

On-premises
Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
Matt_Thomas
Network Manager at Riverston Schools
Real User
Top 5
Provides around the clock support that is supportive, friendly, and dedicated

Pros and Cons

  • "The support is the most valuable feature. The support has been amazing. It's around the clock. One of our hard disks accidentally ejected without me knowing or being onsite. They called and told me about it before I had a chance to see it myself."
  • "The only real flaw that I have seen so far is this hard drive that was accidentally ejected because when it was received and added back into the RAID. There was an error there. It was not added back into the RAID correctly, so I have an outstanding hard disk. Apparently, a guy just knocked it with his hand as he was in my office, so it was just a small eject. He said that he didn't crash into anything. That is the only thing that has reared its head."

What is our primary use case?

We were running out of storage on our on-prem servers, so originally the HCAs were brought in to combat that and relieve some of the load on the veteran machines. Our file servers, along with one of our file storage, have moved to the HCA. I have put our Exchange server on it and the backup of the domain controller is on it as well.

We are using the latest version. We just implemented the HCAs. We added clusters and have moved some of the old virtual machines onto these new HCAs.

How has it helped my organization?

To have someone looking at the alerts when the network, or at least when the HCAs go down, this means I don't have to keep checking the clusters and virtual machines to make sure everything is playing ball. It's peace of mind that I don't have to keep checking and administrating that. Eventually, I will have a lot more use from it. I'm right at the end of the setup stage, but I'm still allocating resources from these HCAs into the virtual servers. So, I have not gotten the full run out of these yet.

I have seen improvement in my system’s performance. Our Exchange servers are behaving a lot better. Our system is a lot quicker. We were having delays before, where emails were taking two to three minutes. That is a lot longer than you would expect. Now, sitting on its own allocated HCA, it is almost instant. Therefore, email service has improved. The original use for this was just to increase our storage capacity, which it has done very nicely. I suppose we won't have to look for storage now for a long time.

What is most valuable?

The support is the most valuable feature. The support has been amazing. It's around the clock. One of our hard disks accidentally ejected without me knowing or being onsite. They called and told me about it before I had a chance to see it myself.

It has helped to increase redundancy and failover capabilities. The cluster is there, so I now have four levels of failover. If one of my machines goes down, there are two pairs of redundancy machines, so it fails over onto the next one.

The most important virtual servers have gone onto these new HCA. This is automatic so if one of these goes down, then the cluster would just take over and allocate to the next one. Even if I'm offsite, which I am quite a bit, we're still up and running.

What needs improvement?

The only real flaw that I have seen so far is this hard drive that was accidentally ejected because when it was received and added back into the RAID. There was an error there. It was not added back into the RAID correctly, so I have an outstanding hard disk. Apparently, a guy just knocked it with his hand as he was in my office, so it was just a small eject. He said that he didn't crash into anything. That is the only thing that has reared its head. The support team was straight on it. I have people coming out this week to replace it because remotely they couldn't add it back into the RAID. I think maybe the HD got corrupted.

I have all the ports I need in the back. When you're sitting them next to each other for replication between HCAs, it's quick because it has these dedicated iDRAC cables in the back. However, this means I can't have them in separate locations. We could run it through the network to replicate the regular gigabyte Ethernet, but that would be quite slow, especially with the setup. I don't really know how you would change this because I've got a large site. My original on-prem server is quite far away just in case there is a fire (or whatever), so the other one could pick up the redundancy. Having them next to each other defeats the purpose slightly if there was damage localized here, because I would lose both of them at the same time.

For how long have I used the solution?

We have been using it for about three months now.

We did not install it straightaway. We were waiting for a couple of bits, so it was a late install.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

The stability is good. I have had no downtime nor issues. You don't have to maintain it.

The only time I heard from the actual support was when that hard drive went down. As that was caused by a physical thing on our end, I can't really say that was a stability issue.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

I sort of overbought on the storage needed for what I thought we would need in the future. The scalability is there. One of the main reasons I went with StarWind is because we can just keep adding. Possibly, in the future, our other sites will get added as well to have one centralized system. Though, I've not asked them about the specifics of what that would entail. But its scalability is definitely there, and hopefully, we won't need it for a long time. We might though as we have used a lot more data than I thought we would use so far.

As it stands, this is the setup that we will be using for a while.

How are customer service and technical support?

They are great at monitoring.

The Proactive Premium Support has helped to free up an employee, as I'm the only one here at this company. It's a big company with a few schools attached, and obviously, my time is critical. I probably would've been knocking my head a lot longer than necessary, but Boris knew what he was doing and jumped straight in. We had a couple of hiccups and he knew what he was doing every time.

Transfer time was a big time saver when we were migrating the data server, because it was huge. Originally, it was only hooked up to the one gigabyte per second Ethernet going to the domain switch, then back. Because that would have taken forever, support talked me through how to do this another way, step-by-step.

I'm not 100 percent that we have the Proactive Premium Support. I'm fairly certain that we have the Proactive Premium Support, but it could be that I've just been dealing with the standard support. In which case, it's amazing. If it's the Proactive Premium Support, then it's great as well. It's around the clock, very friendly, and informative. While I've only spoken to Boris, he never seems to sleep.

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

It fits into our racks very nicely. Before, we had a couple of data modules which were plugged in. They were huge, bulky, and heavy. They didn't fit in the racks. This is the replacement to those data modules. It was by looking for an alternative that I got turned onto StarWind in the first place. StarWind’s support system, along with the way it plays nicely with Hyper-V and the existing setup, makes it nice and tidy. I've had no overheating. The fans have been nice and quiet as well. The ventilation is on point.

My reseller, Softcat, tipped me onto this solution. I asked them for data storage plugins and this is what they suggested. They were the one that turned me onto StarWind.

It's exactly what I was after when I started looking for these type of appliances.

How was the initial setup?

The setup of the actual hardware was straightforward. Adding it to the existing network was complex. It would have taken me maybe a week of work to get the end result, instead having my hand held through the whole process was invaluable. It saved me a lot of time.

There was lots of different sessions involved with the deployment. If you put them altogether, it took probably a day as we had to stop and break. I had to go do other things and Boris also had to do other things, so we did the deployment in bits. 

The implementation strategy was loose. As long as it was off hours, so I could switch a bunch of machines off, that was essentially it. As long as I had this approved from Boris, that was our strategy. I looked at what resources we needed on which virtual machines. Then, I made the decision on what to transfer over, moving the most important things over.

What about the implementation team?

I had Boris (from StarWind) for the setup, and he was amazing. We have the Proactive Premium Support, since we paid extra to get it. I probably wouldn't have been able to set it up on my own to get it to play with our existing network and on-prem setup. The support guys were sending me photographs and explaining some of the basics that I probably should have known. They have been great.

Kudos to Boris. He has been great, supportive, friendly, and dedicated. 

I am the only person using and maintaining the solution.

What was our ROI?

It's not really in place of anything that would be costing us. We just had to upgrade because the storage was basically kaput. Savings-wise, I don't think it will save us any money, but it's not going to cost us anything more either.

We might see ROI from time saved. But I'm the only employee, so it'll probably take awhile to cover enough of my time to make that money up.

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

I was quite hesitant to buy these, and I don't know why. There is a bit of a start-up cost. Having never used HCAs before, I was reluctant to buy it. I would suggest that you jump in and do it, as I wish I hadn't wasted so much time.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We did look at other options, just not HCAs. We looked at static storage to plug straight in.

I spoke to Softcat about alternatives, but they said StarWind was getting glowing reviews from very similar networks across education. So, I felt that I would give them a try. Their presentation was really good, and they seem friendly and very knowledgeable. Essentially, that's what I needed - someone to help me move through the process since I hadn't added HCAs before.

Compared to other solutions out there, StarWind was cost-effective. For example, we would have had to buy at minimum as much as these HCAs cost us going forward, if not more. 

What other advice do I have?

The biggest lesson that I learned was I should have started as 1st Line Support. There was a situation where our old network manager had to leave quite suddenly, and there were definitely holes in my knowledge. So, I learned quite a lot just through the setup, Boris talking me through different types of connections, and some Hyper-V stuff. I suppose that I also learned a lot about HCAs in general and how they fit into network clusters since I hadn't touched on clusters before.

I would rate it a 10 (out of 10). I'm very happy. It's exactly the solution I wanted to the problem, then extra on top.

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

On-premises
Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
Claire Madison
IT Manager at Projects Inc.
Real User
Top 20
Enabled us to significantly condense and eliminated excess in our server rack

Pros and Cons

  • "The hardware footprint is perfect. It fits in our rack perfectly, and we were able to condense a lot of physical servers we had. It has greatly eliminated the excess stuff in our server rack..."
  • "We have the ProActive Premium Support and it has reduced our monitoring efforts. It has been very useful. They have been able to detect things such as when there's an issue with the cluster or they're getting some kind of weird reading that I have no idea about. They're really quick to let me know about it and even set up a schedule to address it. I've been very happy with their level of support on that."
  • "I wish I understood what goes into the StarWind software a little bit better. To me, it's kind of magic the way some of it works. As an IT professional, you don't really want things to be magic. I do wish there was a little more "Here's how it works." There could be more documentation given to administrators..."

What is our primary use case?

We run it mostly for business processes. We have a manufacturing plant. We use it for our ERP system, some of our databases, some IT applications. It really drives the organization and the main things we use on a day-to-day basis.

How has it helped my organization?

We used to have a lot of issues with our database servers. At one point, we had a database front-end that required five different servers to run, literally five physical servers. Just one of those computers going down would effectively halt the whole database. Bringing in these units really helped us condense our infrastructure and make things more reliable and redundant. That has definitely been the biggest key value in this.

In terms of redundancy, we were completely physical before we brought these units in. We had no virtual infrastructure at all. In addition to that, nothing was redundant. These really helped to give us some form of redundancy in a pretty compact package. With a lot of hyperconverged units, you need at least three of them, sometimes four of them. One thing that was attractive with StarWind was that we could get it in two units that communicate directly. It is a pretty self-maintained hyperconverged appliance. That was something that was really appealing.

Overall, it has helped to improve our system's performance greatly.

What is most valuable?

Nearly all of it is valuable. On a software level, it works really well. I've never had any issues with the hosts communicating with each other. The failover works perfectly. They set up everything on a software level and I've been very happy with it. They can monitor the software remotely and make sure everything's working with our Hyper-V cluster. Overall, I have been very happy with the setup of the software.

The hardware footprint is perfect. It fits in our rack perfectly and we were able to condense a lot of physical servers we had. It has greatly eliminated the excess stuff in our server rack. The footprint is completely acceptable.

We have the ProActive Premium Support and it has reduced our monitoring efforts. It has been very useful. They have been able to detect things such as when there's an issue with the cluster or they're getting some kind of weird reading that I have no idea about. They're really quick to let me know about it and even set up a schedule to address it. I've been very happy with their level of support on that. 

For example, they had messaged me a couple of times in regard to what they assumed was a bad block on our server. That could be very devastating if there is something actually wrong with our data — a corruption or anything like that. They went in there a couple of times and looked at it and made sure everything was okay. I would consider that pretty nice preventative maintenance.

When we first got the appliance, we hadn't done any major updates on the actual hardware itself. They recommended to me that we do an update on it. They pretty much did the whole process for me and that saved me a lot of time on software and firmware updates.

The Premium Support has saved me about ten hours of troubleshooting time. Whenever there's an issue, they're quick to reach out to me. I'd consider that a good value in terms of my time in general. There is less I have to worry about, as far as something going wrong with these servers goes, when they're monitoring it 24/7.

What needs improvement?

I wish I understood what goes into the StarWind software a little bit better. To me, it's kind of magic the way some of it works. As an IT professional, you don't really want things to be magic. I do wish there was a little more "Here's how it works." There could be more documentation given to administrators to know, just in case you have to troubleshoot this by yourself, what you should look out for.

For how long have I used the solution?

These are our first HCA units at this company. We have had the product for six to eight months.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

The stability has been excellent. We've never had any crashes or issues with the products themselves going down or any kind of instability. Everything that we have had — as I mentioned, there was something potentially wrong due to a disk issue, although it turned out that there wasn't a problem — they have usually been quick to catch it proactively.

But as for anything unexpected happening or that brought us down, there's been nothing thus far, which has been awesome.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

It could be relatively scalable. We're at where we need to be with two of them, but it seems it would be very straightforward to get a third one, for example, if we wanted additional redundancy or more computing power.

It's being fully utilized to drive our day-to-day production. We rely on it every day to drive the business, so it is very key in our infrastructure now. I could see us getting an additional unit if the business needs demand it. I don't think we will have a demand for it within the next five years, but if it happens, if we have rapid growth, I would definitely look into getting another unit.

Currently, we have about 100 end-users of the solution in our organization.

How are customer service and technical support?

They could use a little more diversity in their technicians. Some of them are a little bit difficult to understand. That's typical for remote technical support people, but they should make an effort to have more US-based technicians available. It would add good value to their customer support.

The actual responsiveness and helpfulness of each technician has been great. I don't have any other complaints about the support. We've never had to escalate a case to anyone beyond first-tier support.

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

We didn't have a previous hyperconverged solution.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup was very straightforward. We got the units in, we plugged them in, and set them up. They had given us a map of how everything should be connected, which I had no difficulty understanding. 

They then followed up with a more formal implementation day, where they did some of the final setup on the two units. It was a GoToMeeting type of set up and they remoted in and finished configuring the host.

I do wish that they had done the setup in advance so that we could have run them right away. I thought they would be a fully turnkey kind of product, so I was a little surprised to see that there was an extra set up when we got them in. But it was nothing too time-intensive.

The software configuration took about an hour. The hardware was done by them before we even received the product. It did take a couple of days before we could actually get them booked to finish the installation. That was my main complaint, not so much the actual time it took the technician to do the rest of it.

It could be done by one person, but two are helpful for the initial racking. And for day-to-day maintenance, now that it's deployed, we definitely need just one full-time person.

What about the implementation team?

Everything was done through StarWind. We didn't have any consultants. The only actual help we had from the outside was getting it physically installed.

What was our ROI?

To give it a ballpark, I would say the solution has saved us $25,000 over the six to eight months we've had it. In terms of a projected ROI, we don't have a hard number on it but I would say about $100,000 would be ideal over the five years that we would have it.

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

The Nutanix piece was about $45,000, getting close to $50,000 with all the licensing involved, whereas the StarWind was less than half of that, after Microsoft licensing and such.

The price point was spot-on.

There were no hidden fees. Everything was up-front. We had the option to go with three or five years' worth of support. There was really nothing unexpected. We knew we had to license our Windows Servers, but that was about it.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We looked at Nutanix and we looked at Dell VRTX and we decided on StarWind ultimately, by a pretty significant margin.

With the Nutanix, we didn't like the fact that pricing was way higher than the StarWind appliances. Plus, if I'm not mistaken, we would have needed at least three of the Nutanix hardware, the HCAs. They also run their own specialized platform. I have more of a Hyper-V background, which is what StarWind bases its virtualization on. There would have been a little more of a learning curve on my end as well. Ultimately, the price was the biggest killer on that.

What other advice do I have?

Not so much with the appliance itself, but more the process for going from physical to virtual machines took a lot of planning. That was a little challenging. They did offer to help migrate some of our data over to the new servers if we chose to, but we decided not to. We did everything in-house in terms of getting everything migrated over to the new servers.

For a small to mid-size organization, it's a great fit. It may not be the right fit if you're a really big enterprise.

I would give the solution a nine out of ten. There's great hardware in this solution. Everything that we purchased was really competitive. I am a person knows what I'm looking at when it comes to hardware, and I thought everything was great. The software is also very good.

Disclosure: IT Central Station contacted the reviewer to collect the review and to validate authenticity. The reviewer was referred by the vendor, but the review is not subject to editing or approval by the vendor.
AL
IT Infrastructure Analyst at a retailer with 201-500 employees
Real User
Top 10
The improved response times and performance are helpful

Pros and Cons

  • "The software is great. It's very easy to understand. I've not delved into any of the command-line stuff, but there's no real need to script it. Since it went in, pretty much the only thing that I have needed to do is increase device image sizes and that process is very straightforward."
  • "We were slightly disappointed with the hardware footprint. We were led to believe, and all the pre-sales tech information requirements pointed to the fact, that it was coming on Dell hardware. Then it came on bulk servers."

What is our primary use case?

We use it to replace some Hyper-V infrastructure. We are looking for some decomplication, hopefully. Our old Hyper-V cluster was three Dell R410 servers with two Cisco switches that were connected by iSCSI to VNX. The VNX was coming toward end-of-life. I've de-cabled it now and taken out the rack and I've got a box of Ethernet cables. There was a massive amount of stuff that did the same job as two servers and a couple of Mellanox cards.

Although it was end-of-life, we got some quite severe warning emails from EMC saying, "This is it guys. Your support is terminating. If anything goes wrong with it, good luck." We could have purchased a third-party warranty on it if we'd wished, but then it would have been a matter of luck in terms of the parts. Although nothing ever actually went wrong on the VNX, hardware-wise, it was about not having that parachute.

How has it helped my organization?

It's just taken over the job of something that was going out-of-support. The only thing that we have really noticed as being a massive improvement — because of the live migrations, because it's disk-based rather than iSCSI — is that it is super-fast now.

It's fairly instant. Before, live migrations meant we had to leave it on a countdown. So if we had to move stuff around quickly, we had to do some quick live migration. It would take a few minutes and only one could be done at a time. There is an improvement in having a new Windows Server. The 2008 R2 Server that we replaced didn't have PowerShell for Hyper-V, but obviously this version does. We've just scripted it and, bang, with the improved response times from it being disk-based instead of iSCSI, trying to shove an 8 Gig memory file through goes a lot quicker. It's not really something that's saved our ops at any time but the improved performance is pleasing.

It hasn't increased redundancy or failover capabilities, it has just like-for-like replaced. We did have three servers, two switches, and a disk array, whereas now we just have two servers. There's a big chunk of less stuff doing the same stuff. So we've consolidated. We're doing the same with less. It has saved us money in the sense that there is less stuff to pay out warranty on.

What is most valuable?

We bought their ProActive Premium Support. That's why they email us when we have rebooted to patch, and they check with us that everything is okay. We've not really had any problems with it, so it has not really presented with any real-world benefits yet. Obviously there are benefits to it because it's monitored. We do monitor stuff onsite, but it's good to have backup. We're a small team so that is one of the major benefits of it.

The software is great. It's very easy to understand. I've not delved into any of the command-line stuff, but there's no real need to script it. Since it went in, pretty much the only thing that I have needed to do is increase device image sizes, and that process is very straightforward. As part of the installation, the StarWind representative took me through it. We just migrate everything to the other server, put it into maintenance mode, increase the size, and commit.

There really isn't any maintenance. It's fairly self-sufficient. 

What needs improvement?

We were slightly disappointed with the hardware footprint. We were led to believe, and all the pre-sales tech information requirements pointed to the fact, that it was coming on Dell hardware. Then it came on bulk servers. They asked for some email addresses for iDRAC and the like. We thought, "Oh good, it's Dell. We're familiar with that kind of hardware infrastructure." Our other servers here are Dell so we know how the Dell ecosphere works. But then, these weren't Dell. These are Supermicro, which, when you boil it down, are the same Intel parts. But it's a little reminiscent of putting together OEM PCs. That's how the servers look. But they're in and they're working.

What you're not paying for, and that may be why it was £36,000 instead of £110,000, are those Dell Concierge services. They've got a well-rounded, iDRAC infrastructure and we could integrate it into our other stuff. We're all used to how all the ILO stuff works on it. But here it's, "Oh, Supermicro. It all looks a bit '2002.'" It's not what we weren't expecting but it works.

For how long have I used the solution?

We've been using the appliance for two or three months.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

The stability has been great. There have been no problems, not a hiccup or anything. So far, it seems fine.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

It would be fairly easy to add to it. We could add a third node with another card.

How are customer service and technical support?

Tech support is very prompt, very friendly. They're knowledgeable. I don't think I have come across anything that they couldn't answer.

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

It was just a straight one-for-one swap. Decomplication was really was the main driver for it. If you're troubleshooting problems on Windows Server core on iSCSI and logging into a bit of an unfriendly VNX with no info panel on it, and if it was struggling, it had a lot of trouble telling you. We had to actually order a special cable to be able to serial into it at one point. This solution is relatively straightforward now.

We came across StarWind by just having a look at what options were out there. I liked StarWind because, when you look at their material online, they seem more geared towards education. They've got a quite extensive Knowledge Base and they are very good at tutorials. Other companies seemed more to emphasize the marketing: "Look at our shiny boxes."

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup was fairly straightforward. The only thing that wasn't straightforward was, "Oh, we've never had Supermicro before." It was a matter of getting used to, and documenting, how stuff works.

There were no instructions. We just got two boxes. There wasn't any "Welcome to your StarWind Hyperconverged Appliance." It was just two brown boxes with two servers in them.

We just racked it up and then had a phone call with them and let the guys at StarWind know when it was online. It was up and running in our environment pretty much straight away. The only problem I had were the SFP cables: "Which way up do these go? And does it go A to B, or A to A and B to B?" So that required a phone call.

The only other problem that we encountered, that protracted the migration, was that while they've got good V-to-V migration software, our old environment was 2008 R2 and it wasn't supported by the migration software. So we had to "handle" it. It was a matter of having to recreate the service. I scripted it from PowerShell myself, and did them one or two each weekend over a period of three or four weeks. They're production servers so they had to be down to do the Hyper-V conversion process. Our file server took a while. It is about a terabyte-and-a-half. It took about 11 hours to convert, but I had it scripted anyway. So once it converted, I just did a convert from source to the StarWind. That was part of the copy process. It was then just create out and boot and notify me.

For the setup it was just me involved.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We looked at Nutanix and found it did almost the same thing but for more money. In fact, StarWind was nearly one-third of the price; it cost us £36,000. That includes five years of monitoring. If we have to reboot we get an email from them saying, "Is everything okay guys?"  We tell them, "Yeah, yeah, it's fine. Don't worry. Patching". The Nutanix was near enough £110,000 for relatively the same amount of performance and storage.

There were no additional fees for StarWind. That amount is for five years, done and paid for.

What other advice do I have?

They're not really appliances, they're are just two servers with a bit of software on them. It's slightly misleading that it's hyperconverged appliances. It's just two white-box servers with a Mellanox card in it.

In terms of improvement to IOPS or latency from using it, we haven't seen anything drastic. But then again, we weren't really hitting it hard before. I've not measured it. It has just not caused us any trouble. So it's all good.

I would give it a solid eight out of ten. It's trouble-free, it's very clear to use. It's not one of those implementations where you're tearing your hair out. If you are tearing your hair out, it's about other things, not the actual StarWind part of it. I would probably have given it a ten if the hardware was a bit slicker, or there was more actual, "Welcome to your new StarWind implementation. Here's where everything plugs in," type of documentation. We did get some e-mail stuff, but it tended to look like it was more for Dell hardware and not Supermicro, white box, no-name servers.

Disclosure: IT Central Station contacted the reviewer to collect the review and to validate authenticity. The reviewer was referred by the vendor, but the review is not subject to editing or approval by the vendor.
ReinierMuller
Interim CTO at Royal Koopmans
Real User
Top 5
High-availability means that all data is synched instantly through the three nodes

Pros and Cons

  • "The most valuable feature is the high-availability. We have three nodes, and all data will be synched instantly through all the nodes. Even if we had a disaster where two nodes failed, containing dozens of critical machines, almost automatically, all the loads would be run on the remaining node."
  • "At the moment, the initial configuration is very technical and error-prone. That is the reason Starwind does it for you as a service, which is a great thing. But it would be nice if we could change or rearrange storage assignments ourselves."

What is our primary use case?

I'm a self-employed consultant and I'm currently an interim CTO at one of the largest flour companies in the Netherlands. Here, I have introduced the latest solution of StarWind, the hyperconverged hardware cluster. In the past, it was all software-based. But now I use their latest solution, including hardware.

The primary use case is all on-premise. An ERP system is running on it as are a VDI solution and a terminal server, and it is all based on a Hyper-V virtual environment. The complete IT infrastructure is running on the StarWind cluster. The company has about 200 employees.

How has it helped my organization?

Using the StarWind solution, I was able to consolidate all the servers, hardware and firmware, with a three-node StarWind cluster, based on Hyper-V. As a result, in this company, I have seen gains in I/O rates on the order of ten times what they were and a better performing environment.

Overall, the solution has definitely improved our system's performance. When I started with this firm last year in May, they really had a poor performing environment. The StarWind solution has made everything at least ten times faster.

The fact that it has helped increase the redundancy and failover capabilities is implicit. It's a hyperconverged solution. It's all-inclusive. It runs all the time and the technology takes care of failures. It works as it should.

The solution has also saved us money.

StarWind delivers what they promise. In this case, the client is a company working in the food sector and they don't have innovative demands. What I have implemented for them has already brought them ten years ahead of where they were.

What is most valuable?

The most valuable feature is the high-availability. We have three nodes, and all data will be synched instantly through all the nodes. Even if we had a disaster where two nodes failed, containing dozens of critical machines, almost automatically, all the loads would be run on the remaining node. So it features high-availability and provides business continuity. They are the most important elements for me.

It's also fine-tuned, so the performance is the second most valuable feature. It provides great performance. I've only seen I/O performance like this in solutions that are ten times more expensive than the StarWind solution. In the SMB market segment, you cannot sell Dell EMC-like solutions. Thus, StarWind would be the best solution with the best price for the performance that you receive.

I only have three nodes, so the footprint is very small, yet I can provide all the IT services that the company requires, including a very demanding ERP system. It would fit in a half-rack if you put everything in one place. But of course, it's high-availability, so you have to spread it between locations. But the footprint is really small.

In addition, we have full support from StarWind, 24/7. They know about issues in our environment before we know about them. They see, for instance, network errors before we do and what implementations we have. They send a message to us and our engineers respond with a local, physical check on what is happening. Although the environment of StarWind is great, the overall network environment of the company where I'm working is not so good. StarWind notices when there is something wrong in the network, an issue which might affect the performance or the availability of the StarWind solution. We instantly know whether our problem is in the network, before we actually know about it ourselves, by their sending us emails about the site being down or an error.

What needs improvement?

A past problem that they fixed was related to split-brain syndrome. 

The only thing that is lacking would be a fool-proof GUI for system administrators. 

At the moment, the initial configuration is very technical and error-prone. That is the reason StarWind does it for you as a service, which is a great thing. But it would be nice if we could change or rearrange storage assignments ourselves.

For how long have I used the solution?

My history with StarWind goes way back to somewhere around 2008 or 2009 so it's been over ten years. When they first started introducing the so-called virtual SAN solution, I owned a cloud computing business. At that time I was looking for an affordable storage solution that was scalable and highly available. 

Later on, I moved towards an IT consultancy business where I was asked to solve a problem with an ERP system in one of the Dutch government agencies. Because I'm also an IT architect, I noticed that had a big challenge with I/O. So I designed a solution for them around StarWind, also based on a highly-available solution they offered. The application, before I provided my solution, had query response times of over 60 seconds, and some queries even ran for a couple of minutes. Using the StarWind solution, 80 percent of the transactions completed in less than two seconds. That really was a big performance gain from using the StarWind solution. That was about five years ago.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

StarWind is almost infinitely scalable. It depends on the use case. You can scale it on-premise or you can scale it towards the cloud. And then you get the disaster-recovery option included because you can easily move the machines from on-premise to a StarWind solution in the cloud. But for my current client, the cloud is not an option, with all its manufacturing equipment in-house. You have to have the computer system close to the points of contact.

How are customer service and technical support?

I praise them for their support and the willingness to always be available. I would rate their support at ten out of ten because they are the best. I have experience with a lot of other companies, like Dell EMC. StarWind goes much further than other companies, without asking for money for it. You can get similar support from Dell EMC or IBM or HPE if you are willing to pay big-time. Compared to all the others, they are really great.

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

A hyperconverged cluster had never been used at this company, but from a storage point of view, LeftHand was used. The company moved to StarWind because I advised it. I know StarWind, how it performs and how good it is. To me, there was no other option. I will always start with StarWind, for all clients I will service in the future. I know it's good, it performs well, and the price is right.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup is absolutely straightforward. Just open the box and follow the instructions, do the cabling, and you're set. And StarWind gives good implementation support. The moment it has been set up and is running, they will do a complete operational test. The moment they say, "Okay, the system is good to go," you're able to use it. It's a matter of one or two days.

The deployment plan for the company I'm currently at was to virtualize all the operating systems, to get rid of all the hardware and consolidate. They had outsourced their systems services. By putting it back on-premise and hiring two full-time equivalents, I saved 50 percent of my IT budget.

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

The pricing model is very straightforward. I always go for the maximum, enterprise-level. It includes all the services I need and availability guarantees. It's a turnkey solution. It's a whole package, including five-year support on everything.

There are not so many companies that offer hyperconverged solutions, the way StarWind does. HPE doesn't offer it. Dell EMC doesn't offer it, although they do offer a solution combined with Cisco. There is no real comparison, other than parties that are working together. The closest to this would be the Dell EMC/Cisco solution, and that is four or five times more expensive.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

If I have to decide, if I can choose, I will never evaluate other options. I know the market. I have been in the IT business for over 35 years. I know what's good and I stick with what's good and I don't need to compare every other solution in the world.

What other advice do I have?

I would advise you to let StarWind be in control. Let them guide you through the process. If you follow the procedure they offer you, it will be an easy implementation.

Overall, I have more than ten years' experience with StarWind. They are a trustworthy company and they are a very technical company, meaning that they like to solve all the issues. For instance, in all the projects that I have done with StarWind, when we did the implementation at any client or customer, they provided us with remote support and they didn't leave until everything worked as it was supposed to, and they did so without any additional financial implications. It all comes with within their service. I can only praise them for all they do, what they deliver, the service, technology, and performance. They do what they do and they're very good at it. It sounds too good to be true, but that has been my experience.

The product does do everything I expect, and at a high level, so I would also rate it a ten out of ten.

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

On-premises
Disclosure: IT Central Station contacted the reviewer to collect the review and to validate authenticity. The reviewer was referred by the vendor, but the review is not subject to editing or approval by the vendor.
CK
IT Manager at a transportation company with 51-200 employees
Real User
Top 10
Enabled us to reduce use of physical machines and consolidate virtual hosts into a single cluster

Pros and Cons

  • "Overall, the solution has improved our system's performance. I was concerned about the physical-to-virtual conversion of our database server. It's actually much faster now, as a virtualized host on this Hyper-V cluster."
  • "The only critique I might have is that the support is overseas in Eastern Europe and, on occasion, there has been a language issue. But in general, they're as good as can be..."

What is our primary use case?

We've got a two-node, Hyper-V cluster for high-availability. We have it running on Windows Server 2016.

It's being used for file servers, database servers, application servers; all on-premise, private cloud-type services.

How has it helped my organization?

By using this solution we have reduced some of our physical machines and virtualized them. We've consolidated some other standalone, virtual hosts into the single cluster. It's really helped that P-to-V movement and reduction of other hardware and services.

Overall, the solution has improved our system's performance. I was concerned about the physical-to-virtual conversion of our database server. It's actually much faster now, as a virtualized host on this Hyper-V cluster. A lot of it has to do with updated hardware. The previous hardware was probably ten years older, but still, we were concerned about that overhead with virtualization and it's not present.

What is most valuable?

The fact that it has eliminated a separate SAN has been really handy. We moved away from an older SAN and that's one of the reasons we got this. The synchronization has also worked really well. From a feature point of view, it does what it's supposed to do and that's the best you can hope for.

The ProActive Premium Support feature has helped for sure. If there's an issue that we don't know about, we get an alert email. They are very proactive. Where it has created an even greater benefit for us is purely on support. If we have a problem, I can send an email and within an hour somebody's trying to set up a remote session with us.

For how long have I used the solution?

We've been using it for about six or seven months.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

It's very stable. It does everything it's supposed to do. The monitoring points out any issues with connectivity or downtime.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

One of the reasons we got it was that we could deploy with as few as two nodes. We're not a large environment and a lot of solutions out there started at three nodes and more. This was attractive because it was just two. I understand it could scale but we're not going to scale it.

We have approximately 100 users using basic Windows functions like file shares. The common user would you utilize those things which are running off of this solution.

We don't require much staff for maintenance. We only have two onsite administrators, me and someone else. Between us we can handle the Windows updates and additions of VMs if we need to.

How are customer service and technical support?

I would commend the support. They have very knowledgeable people. If they don't have the answer, they quickly access colleagues who do have the answer or more experience. They're very fast.

The only critique I might have is that the support is overseas in Eastern Europe and, on occasion, there has been a language issue. But in general, they're as good as can be, considering they are non-U.S. citizens speaking English. The language barrier is not even as bad as it is for some other products we have.

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

We never had anything that was hyperconverged like this. We had a standard pair of Windows servers that were utilizing a SAN appliance. That equipment was becoming very old and with the StarWind solution we could eliminate the SAN component altogether.

How was the initial setup?

The setup was straightforward. We completed a survey which provided information to configure the appliance and they did that before shipping it to us. By the time we received it, it was very simple to physically install and get it on our network. Everything else was pretty much configured.

The most time in the process was probably due to moving and converting the virtual machines. It wasn't the nature of the product itself, it was just our workloads on it. The whole process, once we received it until we were up and running in production, took about four weeks.

Our implementation strategy was to make it a secondary environment. We transitioned from our old Hyper-V host structure to this one, one VM at a time. We had some flexibility to keep up and running in both the older and the newer environments, as we were completing the transition.

What about the implementation team?

We handled everything directly.

What was our ROI?

This isn't like a revenue-generating purchase. It's more about risk-avoidance by not continuing to use aging hardware, and it's about the elimination of additional components like a SAN. We've reduced the points of failure and increased stability, but it's not like we're going to make revenue out of this.

At this point, the solution is probably costing us money but you get what you pay for. We have newer hardware and the support is very good. The service makes sense for what we're paying for it. But when you're going from equipment you've owned for ten years to buying brand new equipment, it's not really saving you much money.

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

There was a one-time, upfront cost but I don't know what the recurring cost is. I imagine it's the standard 18 to 20 percent maintenance. Nothing stands out as unusual about this solution in my memory, so whatever is standard for keeping support and hardware is what this solution would cost.

There are no other costs that I'm aware of.

The only thing I could compare it to is the cost of Windows Server and Windows licensing in general, but not to a specific StarWind-type of product. The fact that some of the other solutions that I researched operate on a minimum three-node basis — not a minimum of two nodes — that factor alone would make the cost of StarWind less.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

I don't think we considered anything else like this. Our other choice would have just been to update our SAN and update our other Windows servers: keeping the old model but with new hardware.

What other advice do I have?

Know what your needs are. Know your requirements. Know your environment. Those are the typical things you ought to know before investing in something like this. Beyond that, ask any questions you have and think about the future.

I got most of the recommendations for this product from reading online user forums. The users are always pretty accurate and this was no exception to that. A lot of people didn't have the HCA, the hardware-based solution, but they had the software-based component of StarWind and really liked it. They said how good the performance is. All of that is true.

From a product point of view, it's been ideal. I did my research beforehand and got an idea of what it would offer and it's done everything that I thought it would, plus things I wouldn't have considered. It's stable.

It's a typical rack-mounted device. Each unit is two U's so it takes four U's of rackspace. It's like anything else we've got.

The solution doesn't really help to increase redundancy or failover capabilities because we already have a cluster. This is just refreshing it with better hardware and removing the SAN element from it. It hasn't increased reliability but it has given us continued life, to move forward.

I would rate it at ten out of ten because we know what we need to know to run it and, if we don't know, support provides it and they're very responsive.

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

On-premises
Disclosure: IT Central Station contacted the reviewer to collect the review and to validate authenticity. The reviewer was referred by the vendor, but the review is not subject to editing or approval by the vendor.
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