StarWind HyperConverged Appliance Valuable Features

Ross Bullock
IT Manager at Bonitas Trust
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. View full review »
HunterMorgan
Owner at Data Barn
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. View full review »
David Rager
CEO CIO at Store & Haul Inc
High-availability is what I bought it for. The hardware footprint size is good. They use Dell EMC boxes for the appliances. They're pretty standard for the industry, as far as servers go. I think they're good. View full review »
Find out what your peers are saying about StarWind, Dell EMC, DataCore and others in Software Defined Storage (SDS). Updated: January 2020.
396,781 professionals have used our research since 2012.
reviewer1275825
Systems Admin at a tech vendor with 201-500 employees
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. View full review »
Kristopher Skully
Systems Administrator at Hospice of the Western Reserve
The biggest thing we were looking for was redundancy, with both the compute and the storage, so that way we could lose a full node and still keep everything up and running, and not have to worry about it. Another of the most important features we were looking for, since we're short on time, was something that we could deploy quickly and easily. They were offering what they call a "turnkey solution." We could just buy it, they would preconfigure it, we would throw it in our environment and do some very minimal configuration on the phone with them, and we would be up and running. Then we just needed to start moving our virtual machines over, using Hyper-V’s shared-nothing live migration feature. The solution's hardware footprint is great. We have three 1U servers, a total of 3U, and that's replacing a full rack of equipment. We haven't had to use the ProActive Premium Support feature much yet. But they contacted me one time because there was network glitch on one server. We hadn't actually started migrating virtual machines over to it yet, but they contacted me within ten minutes of the issue happening, as I was still trying to figure it out. I have not seen the problem since. The ProActive Premium Support was another factor that we evaluated when we made the decision to purchase this solution, to make everything easier with less work for us. View full review »
Matt_Thomas
Network Manager at Riverston Schools
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. View full review »
Claire Madison
IT Manager at Projects Inc.
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. View full review »
Andrew_Lee
IT Infrastructure Analyst at a retailer with 201-500 employees
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. View full review »
ReinierMuller
Interim CTO at Royal Koopmans
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. View full review »
ChrisKlose
IT Manager at a transportation company with 51-200 employees
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. View full review »
reviewer968163
IT Operations Manager
The management interface is really easy to use. Updates are much less painful, and the proactive support is fantastic. View full review »
Ho-Ching Yung
IT Director/Senior Software Developer at a construction company with 201-500 employees
* StarWind Virtual SAN. We no longer have to manage storage via multiple local server disks. * Added fault tolerance helps everybody sleep easier at night knowing we can lose an entire node without affecting production. View full review »
Ben Poole
User
The most valuable features are consolidated storage, low cost and overhead compared to previous solutions. As an NPO, we are always concerned with new technology and the associated costs. The solutions from StarWind were not only a major increase in performance, but they were very affordable for us. View full review »
reviewer977253
User at a non-profit with 501-1,000 employees
* Proactive monitoring and support * The ability to achieve high availability. View full review »
Andrew Wolf
Civil Engineer at a construction company with 11-50 employees
We have found the live migration to be the most valuable feature. It allows us to seamlessly maintain our servers, as well as have peace of mind if something goes wrong. There is a failover machine ready to go. View full review »
PieterGrootendorst
Technical Consultant at GMA
I've found its flexibility and performance to be the most valuable. View full review »
David Roberge
User
The ease of management through one console for the storage of all of our datacenters worldwide: Going from managing multiple SANs with each of their own consoles and software versions to having a single console to handle all of the company's storage simplified things a lot for us. Another thing worth mentioning that isn't really a feature: The support provided by StarWind is among the best we've ever got for any solution. During the implementation of one of our datacenters, our team took an action that made all storage on a cluster unavailable. StarWind got notified of that situation by the cluster. They contacted us, provided us with a fix and also gave us a procedure for the next time we need to perform this type of maintenance. View full review »
reviewer1026594
User
StarWind HCA delivered us a complete solution that works out of the box. There was no need to buy additional hardware; everything came in a box. Also, the software was preinstalled. View full review »
Find out what your peers are saying about StarWind, Dell EMC, DataCore and others in Software Defined Storage (SDS). Updated: January 2020.
396,781 professionals have used our research since 2012.