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StarWind Virtual SAN OverviewUNIXBusinessApplication

What is StarWind Virtual SAN?

For SMB, ROBO, Cloud and Hosting providers, who look to cut down virtualization expenses, our solution is StarWind VSAN. It is software that eliminates any need in physical shared storage by basically “mirroring” internal hard disks and flash between hypervisor servers. There is less hardware to buy in general, consequently less money is spent on purchase and maintenance. The existing hardware is used with maximum efficiency, so there is no money wasted at all.

StarWind Virtual SAN targets those who already have servers, or are bound to a particular vendor list to buy from. In case there is a new virtualization infrastructure to be built from scratch, StarWind offers a much better way – StarWind HyperConverged Appliance. It is a turnkey solution complete with hardware and software, powered by StarWind Virtual SAN. Those who need to build and maintain virtualization infrastructure at little to no expense, may be interested in StarWind Virtual SAN Free.

StarWind Virtual SAN Buyer's Guide

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

StarWind Virtual SAN Customers

Baker Tilly BVI, CMS Internet, Board Harpeth Hall School

StarWind Virtual SAN Video

Archived StarWind Virtual SAN Reviews (more than two years old)

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Andre C A Griffith MSc MBCS MCTS MCP ITIL
User at a insurance company with 10,001+ employees
Real User
Consolidated storage with automatic host synchronization

Pros and Cons

  • "It has allowed me to effectively and confidently manage the maintenance of hosts where I can power off a host and have its VMs migrate to another one."
  • "The product can include a more simple way of synchronization after a forced shutdown as the current process has a few more steps to check that hosts have synchronized and this can be automated."

What is our primary use case?

The solution provided me the ability to share storage between three physical VMware hosts in my environment. Hence, I have HA for my VMs to move across hosts once they are stored on the vSAN using VMotion. Moreover, I am able to utilize the storage I already have on servers and save the expense of purchasing a new storage appliance.

How has it helped my organization?

It has allowed me to effectively and confidently manage the maintenance of hosts where I can power off a host and have its VMs migrate to another one.

Also, in having the same storage shared between hosts I can have at least one host storing all of the VMs for my cluster.

What is most valuable?

The most valuable features of this solution are as follows:

  • Consolidated storage among all three hosts
  • Synchronization of data between hosts
  • Using VMware VMotion
  • Incorporating HA in VMware
  • Management tools available to manage box
  • Email alerts if there are any problems with managed storage
  • Excellent support

What needs improvement?

The product can include a more simple way of synchronization after a forced shutdown as the current process has a few more steps to check that hosts have synchronized and this can be automated.

The service support should have in its basic plan a chat support 24x7 in addition to email.

How are customer service and technical support?

Support for this solution is excellent.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
Dmitry Sysin
IT at SOMIAC
Real User
Increased server stability and the technical support is thorough

What is our primary use case?

We use this solution for a High-Availability cluster for Hyper-V on two nodes. We are running on Windows Server 2016.

How has it helped my organization?

StarWind Virtual SAN allowed us to increase the fault tolerance of our servers, which resulted in greater user loyalty.

What is most valuable?

In addition to the main functions of the software, I want to note the excellent work of technical support.

What needs improvement?

Perhaps the developer should refine the product management through PowerShell. It is not entirely clear and there quite a bit of documentation.

For how long have I used the solution?

I have been using this solution for two years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

We have been using the product for a…

What is our primary use case?

We use this solution for a High-Availability cluster for Hyper-V on two nodes. We are running on Windows Server 2016.

How has it helped my organization?

StarWind Virtual SAN allowed us to increase the fault tolerance of our servers, which resulted in greater user loyalty.

What is most valuable?

In addition to the main functions of the software, I want to note the excellent work of technical support.

What needs improvement?

Perhaps the developer should refine the product management through PowerShell. It is not entirely clear and there quite a bit of documentation.

For how long have I used the solution?

I have been using this solution for two years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

We have been using the product for a long time and have not seen any glitches.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

We plan to implement this solution on seventy servers in our branches. StarWind Virtual SAN allows you to do this quickly and it is not expensive.

How are customer service and technical support?

Technical support works very responsibly when we have questions. They connected remotely to our servers, performed an analysis and made detailed recommendations.

How was the initial setup?

The initial installation was easy since there are very detailed instructions for almost every server configuration.

What about the implementation team?

I managed to implement everything myself.

What other advice do I have?

I think the software is very good.

At the moment, I have not encountered problems that I could not solve.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
Learn what your peers think about StarWind Virtual SAN. Get advice and tips from experienced pros sharing their opinions. Updated: September 2021.
541,708 professionals have used our research since 2012.
reviewer1185738
User
Real User
A robust solution that makes us always available, and matched our limited infrastructure budget

Pros and Cons

  • "The most valuable feature for us is having the ability to configure our local storage using a limited number of disks and using the StarWind VSAN software to keep the cluster nodes in perfect sync."
  • "The system performs as expected, but we're always looking for performance improvements regarding the best utilization of NVMe disks."

What is our primary use case?

We were looking for a Microsoft Windows 2016 Hyper-V clustered solution that didn't require an external SAN network. Something that could utilize the local storage on each server, and also allowed us to configure the storage as we required it. We had looked at Storage Spaces Direct, but it was too restrictive in terms of configuration.

How has it helped my organization?

We are operational 24/7, every day of the year, so prior to having a clustered system, our users were faced with downtime anytime we applied patches or upgrades to the system.   With the StarWind VSAN software and Hyper-V Guest Cluster, we are able to create an environment where we can perform system updates without any downtime to the users.

What is most valuable?

We are not a very large organization and have a limited budget available for infrastructure.  

The most valuable feature for us is having the ability to configure our local storage using a limited number of disks and using the StarWind VSAN software to keep the cluster nodes in perfect sync.

What needs improvement?

The system performs as expected, but we're always looking for performance improvements regarding the best utilization of NVMe disks.

For how long have I used the solution?

We have been using this solution for a year and a half.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

We have not experienced any failures or problems with the software.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

It handles our environment very well and I don't see any reason why it wouldn't handle a much larger environment.

How are customer service and technical support?

Their software support team had been very helpful in the initial setup of the system and also helped to reconfigure the system after we lost one node in the cluster.

Overall, their support has been excellent. They will stick with you until your issues are resolved!

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

We did not use another solution prior to this one.

How was the initial setup?

Their technical support team was available to install the software both during the demo phase and when we installed the licensed version. It would have been complex for us, as it was our first cluster experience, but their support team made it look easy.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We evaluated Microsoft Storage Spaces Direct, but it was too restrictive in terms of configuration.

What other advice do I have?

So far, the software is doing everything we need.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
reviewer1157808
User
Real User
High-availability adds robustness to protect us against data loss and outages

Pros and Cons

  • "We can lose a site or even two of our three, and we would lose no data and have no outage."
  • "Server-side snapshots are one thing the Linux appliance can't do yet."

What is our primary use case?

We use VMware ESXi and needed a SAN replacement. Our old SAN is an HPE StoreVirtual VSA, but we are running out of space and it's getting old, so our support will be ending soon.

We will use the storage for our main cluster including OS and data drives. 

How has it helped my organization?

This has helped us gain a resilient and robust SAN for much less than anything else we could find. It also allows us to add storage without any license penalty. We will move from using six servers to three. We will also be able to stop using several stand-alone iSCSI devices. 

What is most valuable?

The best thing about the StarWind SAN is the HA we setup. We can lose a site or even two of our three, and we would lose no data and have no outage.

What needs improvement?

In testing, we found some features in the Linux appliance were missing. So, for full functionality, you will want to use the Windows version. Server-side snapshots are one thing the Linux appliance can't do yet. I hope the feature is added in the next update release.

Adding storage after its all setup is a little difficult.

For how long have I used the solution?

We have been using this solution for about one year.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

So far, I have seen a service fail on one system during our test phase. Synchronization stopped and I had to start the service again. This was during a power outage but the server never went down. It has never happened again. 

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

The way we have this setup, scaling is difficult. We use three systems that are all synchronized and using MIMO iSCSI. Adding storage means adding it to all three, rather than just tossing another server at it. You can architect it differently, which would make scaling easier.

How are customer service and technical support?

Technical support is great. They are very responsive, they always reply quickly, and seem very knowledgeable.

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

We used an HPE StoreVirtual VSA. Its support is ending and a replacement was going to cost too much for us.

How was the initial setup?

The setup was easy, but afterward, support walked us through a bunch of settings that I would have missed.

What about the implementation team?

The setup was all done by local IT staff with a final remote check with support, where they changed many advanced settings. 

What was our ROI?

It all cost about twenty-five percent less than the other solutions we looked at.

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

The basic setup is very easy and the cost is reasonable for support. 

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We looked at Nimble, HPE VSA, and Tegile storage.

What other advice do I have?

If you're at all interested then build a few systems using old hardware, or just spin up a few VMs. You get ninety percent of the features for free so there is no cost to try it out. The free version is great to use for labs or test environments.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
KL
Specialist in the center of security at PERN S.A.
Real User
Fast and reliable mirroring of our security center ensures continuity in case of disaster

Pros and Cons

  • "The StarWind Virtual SAN management console is intuitive and easy to use."
  • "It would be great if the Linux version of the management console offered the same features as Windows."

What is our primary use case?

The use of the StarWind solution does not have to be just a strictly IT domain.
In my case, we needed to find and implement a solution that guaranteed the supervision of security systems in the scenario of a full disaster of our main center of supervision.
To achieve that, we needed to use technology that would give us fast and reliable data replication between two supervision centers and would not ruin our security department budget. On the other hand, the solution must be easy to administrate with the tools we had.

StarWind Virtual SAN was a bulls-eye. Now, we can transfer the full spectrum of information to remote infrastructure that allows us to ensure continuity, which means better security for the company. The StarWind Virtual SAN management console is intuitive and easy to use.

How has it helped my organization?

Since the implementation of StarWind Virtual SAN, we achieve fast and reliable data replication in the full spectrum. The main operations security center is backed up to maintain the continuity of security systems operations in case of loss of the main operations center.

What is most valuable?

The most valuable feature is the fast and reliable data replication between main and backup operations centers using a virtual environment.

Second: Good price :-) 

Third: The StarWind Virtual SAN management console is intuitive and easy to use in day to day administration.

What needs improvement?

It would be great if the Linux version of the management console offered the same features as Windows.

For how long have I used the solution?

Less than one year.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

StarWind Virtual SAN meets all of the expectations in terms of stability for data replication and failover tests.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

The scalability is very good.

How are customer service and technical support?

Our experience is that we get a fast response from technical support.

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

No other solution was used for data replication.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup was straightforward.

What about the implementation team?

Implementation was performed through a vendor team with a high level of experience.

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

This solution has a great price for the functionality.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

No other options were evaluated.

What other advice do I have?

In my case, in the day-to-day use, I don't see much area for improvement for StarWind Virtual SAN solution. It's fast, reliable, and almost meets all of my expectations.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
AntonChernomazov
SAO Dept. Head at LLC BIT
Real User
High performance, high availability, and redundancy from our re-purposed servers

Pros and Cons

  • "Active-active work mode leads to true redundancy of storage and allows us to distribute the load between multiple nodes."
  • "Some configuration options still demand service restarting."

What is our primary use case?

We use 2-Node software-defined storage clusters with iSCSI access to 30 TB in HA-targets, and 140 TB in flat targets.

Our environment includes eight vSphere hosts and more than one hundred Windows VMs (file servers, MS SQL servers, Oracle Database servers, MS Exchange servers, etc.) are connected to StarWind's iSCSI targets.

How has it helped my organization?

Existing common-purpose servers were transformed into flexible, redundant, high-performance storage clusters.

We upgrade our storage by ordinary disks, RAID-controllers, 10G network cards, and disk shelves at a low cost. We have no hardware vendor dependency.

What is most valuable?

Active-active work mode leads to true redundancy of storage and allows us to distribute the load between multiple nodes.

Using common-purpose servers and components reduces CapEx.

RAM and SSD caches help to improve performance.

High Availablity targets allow for flexible storage capacity.

Support works fast and solves issues completely.

What needs improvement?

Some configuration options still demand service restarting. For example, changing of cache settings.

Multi-tiering needs to be improved. There is option to use SSD for cache only currently.

For how long have I used the solution?

Seven years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

High-Availability targets in earlier versions had issues when disk array degrades, or the RAID-controller breaks. In the current version, we have no troubles with such things.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

Scalability is great. Just add disks to nodes to create new targets or expand existing ones.

We didn't test targets with multiple devices.

How are customer service and technical support?

Support wants to solve your issue, and they are successful at it. Complex issues are escalated to the next support level in a straightforward manner.

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

We used direct-attached storage before StarWind vSAN.

How was the initial setup?

Setup is simple, especially when you understand the basics of iSCSI technology.

What about the implementation team?

All of our clusters were implemented in-house.

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

Setup is simple, so it's cheap.

Licensing is based on nodes rather than TBs, which means that the users are free to increase storage capacity without putting thought into licensing.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

I had read an article about Intel X520 network cards performance testing with StarWind vSAN, and we chose it. No other options were evaluated.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
PK
IT Tech/ Network Admin at Society of St James
Real User
Helped us build a redundant, highly available Hyper-V cluster

Pros and Cons

  • "The most important feature is the ability to experience the loss of one node or one storage device, and not lose the entire cluster."
  • "We would like to see the documentation more fully developed."

What is our primary use case?

We had to build a highly available Hyper-V cluster.

As I work for a charitable organization, the most important part is keeping costs as low as possible. I have looked into a few solutions and none was as easy to deploy because it allows us to use hardware that we already have and not invest a lot of money. 

How has it helped my organization?

Building a High Availability cluster required that we set up a cluster on our hardware and shared space for file access. Using the StarWind VSAN solution allowed us to reduce the cost by using hardware that we already owned. Instead of managing two server boxes, the SAN device, and SAN backup, we have everything included in two servers with shared disk space.

What is most valuable?

The most important feature is the ability to experience the loss of one node or one storage device, and not lose the entire cluster. This is great if you think about data redundancy and failover. It gives you time to rebuild node that is offline and keep your business running. Time is money!

Scalability is a great feature because if you need more space and more redundancy then can easily add another node!

What needs improvement?

We would like to see the documentation more fully developed. Most subjects are covered but if you do not know something then you may need to contact their support.

For how long have I used the solution?

Three months.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

Since the initial setup, I've had no problems with the software. I am constantly checking new versions and what updates it includes. Update one node, then another, and you can forget about it again. To be honest, if you install the current version and it works then you can forget about it right away. This solution just works. I have had no problems at all for the whole time that I've used it.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

Scalability is great and easy. You need more space to deploy another node, which gives you more fast storage. Redundancy will also improve.

How are customer service and technical support?

Customer service is very helpful and polite. They will help you with pricing and to find the proper license that suits your needs.

I have used technical support once for a general question. I received a reponse fast and it was very technical, covering all of the questioned subjects.

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

I have never used different solutions.

How was the initial setup?

Initial set up was easy and straight forward. Read all of the how-tos and FAQs. Having basic knowledge about the subject will allow you to go through the setup process hassle-free.

What about the implementation team?

I installed everything myself.

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

I would suggest that you download the free version, deploy in your lab, and play with it. If you like it then you will definitely like the more advanced, full paid version.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

I have read about different solutions, especially VMware vSAN. In comparing these two, it is easy to choose StarWind for a company the size of mind, with needs that StarWind can easily cover.

I have done some research on that subject and everything directed me to StarWind VSAN. Now, I can clearly state that I do not regret my decision.

What other advice do I have?

Technical support is the thing that completes a good product. If the software is good but you can also count on fast and accurate resolutions then you have got everything you need.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
reviewer1145355
User
Real User
Create new SANs on demand, making the most efficient use of existing hardware

Pros and Cons

  • "When we need additional storage but want to keep the size of the SANs manageable, the StarWind Virtual SAN has allowed me to do everything needed."
  • "The only thing that I have any difficulty with is that in order to perform upgrades, it is required that the SANs be detached from the Hosts before that can happen."

What is our primary use case?

I used their Virtual SAN software to add new SANs to my VMware environment. I began working for a company that had a Virtual Environment already in place and there was no documentation regarding the configuration of the system. The storage was not managed correctly and I had to find a way to make space with what hardware I had at the time.

How has it helped my organization?

The storage space in the VMware environment I walked into was mismanaged and we needed immediate access to more storage. There was a Dell PowerVault that had plenty of space, and this software enabled me to make the most of my storage.

Given that I could not purchase new equipment I had to find a way to make this PowerVault become the storage without disrupting things. StarWind Virtual San allowed me to achieve this quickly.

What is most valuable?

The most valuable feature is the ability to make new SANs on the fly. When we need additional storage but want to keep the size of the SANs manageable, the StarWind Virtual SAN has allowed me to do everything needed. There are times when we still need storage to be controlled and the software allows me to make the needed changes. It can be done right from their application and then pushed directly over to the hosts.

What needs improvement?

The only thing that I have any difficulty with is that in order to perform upgrades, it is required that the SANs be detached from the Hosts before that can happen.

In my industry, having one hundred percent uptime means that I must either migrate everything off of the existing SANs so I can perform the upgrade, or shut everything down, detach the SANs and then reconnect them after the upgrade is complete.

At this point, while I am running an older version and the features still work within the latest versions of VMware, I won't see it as being a problem until I add more storage to allow for the proper migration and upgrade to happen.

For how long have I used the solution?

More than four years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

I have never had any downtime. This software has managed the SAN connection to my VMs perfectly for the last four years.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

This software has done everything I need. It saved me a lot of time when I was given an extremely short time to add additional space to my Virtual Environment.

How are customer service and technical support?

I have only needed to reach out to the support team a couple of times since this software was implemented. They responded within a couple of hours and everything was figured out quickly. 

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

There were no previous solutions in place. The setup of the VM Environment was mismanaged initially. This software helped me regain control of the management of storage quickly. 

How was the initial setup?

Straightforward setup and the configuration was no problem.

What about the implementation team?

We implemented this solution in-house. 

What was our ROI?

I saw an immediate ROI as I had storage that was not being utilized. Instead of having to spend $10K-$20K to add new storage to the existing environment, wait on the hardware to arrive, and then configure it directly as a new LUN, I was able to use this solution. I purchased the software, installed it on the system that I had with excess space, and created a few new SANs the same day the request was being made with an urgent time frame.  

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

The timeline to get the storage was extremely limited so I didn't have time to do evaluation testing.

What other advice do I have?

Their support team is terrific. I have only had to reach out to them on a couple of occasions. They responded quickly and helped me to get things resolved right away. 

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
ITCS user
User
Real User
A fast and cost-effective replacement for our existing SAN

Pros and Cons

  • "The most valuable feature is the fact that the nodes are Active/Active, and allow us to do upgrades on any node without any downtime."
  • "It would be nice if we could designate pools, or tiers, for storage of different speeds, and then assign rules to new VMs that would automatically place them into the proper pool."

What is our primary use case?

We have a four-host VMware environment with over one hundred and forty virtual servers that runs everything on our network except for backups and video storage. We are using Dell R730xd servers filled with a combination of hard drives and SSDs, as well as some PCIe storage for high-performance VMs.

How has it helped my organization?

We were able to create a much faster SAN with much more storage while saving a lot of money. It cost less to build an entire new SAN based on StarWind than to upgrade our old SAN. Now, when we want to expand, we can add storage in any way we want. This allows us to find the best prices without being tied to proprietary hardware.

What is most valuable?

The most valuable feature is the fact that the nodes are Active/Active, and allow us to do upgrades on any node without any downtime. This solution runs on standard hardware and allows us to use servers and storage that we already have, as well as non-proprietary hardware that doesn't cost a fortune.

What needs improvement?

The ability to manage the SAN with vSphere would be nice. It would also be of benefit to have more vSAN-like features, like not having to worry about creating multiple volumes. It would be nice if we could designate pools, or tiers, for storage of different speeds, and then assign rules to new VMs that would automatically place them into the proper pool.

For how long have I used the solution?

Three years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

We have found the software itself to be highly stable. It just works.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

This solution seems highly scalable, with the only limitations being management after a certain point.

How are customer service and technical support?

I had some issues, early on, that ended up being hardware issues on my end. The StarWind support people were more than willing to help me out with them, and this including jumping on remote sessions to figure things out whenever I needed help.

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

We used Compellent (bought by Dell). When we bought it, they discounted it heavily to be competitive, and it was at the low end of what they offered. When we needed to expand it, the costs to do so seemed outrageous.

How was the initial setup?

This initial setup is extremely straightforward. You install the software and then create volumes, which then show up on an iSCSI scan. Nothing complex about it.

What about the implementation team?

We performed the implementation in-house.

What was our ROI?

We were able to build an entirely new SAN with much greater performance and more capacity for less than the cost of just upgrading our previous SAN, so the ROI was immediate.

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

The licensing is pretty simple, and the costs are straightforward. Once you buy the license, you are free to build your own hardware solution based on your needs.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We looked at EMC and HP, but both were also much more expensive than a system we could build ourselves based on the StarWind software.

What other advice do I have?

Unless you need a lot of special third-party integration with other systems, it is a great low-cost solution that gives you whatever level of performance you decide, based on your hardware.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
NZ
IT manager at Vertical
Real User
Wide hardware compatibility eases the building of a high performance and fault-tolerant solution

Pros and Cons

  • "It allows you to use ANY consumer or enterprise HDDs and SSDs, and that's a really great thing!"
  • "High availability for direct attached hardware drives could be useful for increasing the performance of a storage appliance."

What is our primary use case?

We use this solution for SAN storage. We have a two-node Microsoft Windows 2016 full SSD (SATA) configuration with RAM cache (500GB each node), and iSCSI to connect HA virtual clusters. Using Mellanox network technology with two 100Gbit switches in HA mode. Also, we have more than sixty MSSQL databases hosted.

How has it helped my organization?

Virtual SAN has improved stability, performance, and maintenance cost. This is a great solution for replacement "Hardware", both entry-level and some mid-storage. It allows you to use ANY consumer or enterprise HDDs and SSDs, and that's a really great thing!  

What is most valuable?

The Price/Performance ratio for this solution is outstanding!

You can use most of the modern hardware. You are not restricted to use "not compatible" disks by a vendor. It has great scalability and replication features to allow building really fault tolerant solutions in your IT environment. 

What needs improvement?

I would like to see full support for iSER. This time, technical support does not recommend using iSER on NICs except on an internal (StarWind Node-to-StarWind node) connections.

High availability for direct attached hardware drives (without virtual disk layer) could be useful to increase the performance of StarWind virtual storage cluster. 

For how long have I used the solution?

More than one year.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

This solution is very stable.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

The scalability of this solution is great!

Disclosure: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: Reseller.
reviewer1100463
IT Manager at a retailer with 51-200 employees
Real User
A cost-effective HA solution to solve the problem of expanding local storage

What is our primary use case?

We are using a two-node StarWind VSAN cluster on a Dell 720xds. The StarWind VSAN helps us to better leverage the computing power of our ESXi hosts and helped solve the problem of expanding local storage.

How has it helped my organization?

StarWind allowed us to deploy highly available shared storage within our budget. Other solutions were far too costly.

What is most valuable?

The HA clustering and the ability to run on our own equipment have been the most valuable.

What needs improvement?

I would like to see more monitoring and alert tools. StarWind offers a management console to configure the and monitor the servers, setting up SMTP alerts would be a plus.

For how long have I used the solution?

Less than one year.

Which other solutions

What is our primary use case?

We are using a two-node StarWind VSAN cluster on a Dell 720xds. The StarWind VSAN helps us to better leverage the computing power of our ESXi hosts and helped solve the problem of expanding local storage.

How has it helped my organization?

StarWind allowed us to deploy highly available shared storage within our budget. Other solutions were far too costly.

What is most valuable?

The HA clustering and the ability to run on our own equipment have been the most valuable.

What needs improvement?

I would like to see more monitoring and alert tools. StarWind offers a management console to configure the and monitor the servers, setting up SMTP alerts would be a plus.

For how long have I used the solution?

Less than one year.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We evaluated other options and this one was the most cost-effective.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
reviewer1083804
User
Real User
Simple to manage and has minimized our operational risk in case of disaster

Pros and Cons

  • "This solution has a very good user interface, with simple administration/management."
  • "This product could be improved with the inclusion of new health check procedures."

What is our primary use case?

Our primary use case is for a distributed virtual SAN over two data centers. Virtual SAN uses three servers in two data centers.

How has it helped my organization?

Technically the change is enormous and the operational risk in case of disaster has been minimized. The monitoring is simple and the user interface is intuitive. The solution is stable and the upgrade was done without downtime. Now, the data is distributed on both data centers and data loss is not an option.

What is most valuable?

This solution has a very good user interface, with simple administration/management.

We find the support for NFS and iSCSI valuable. This solution is practically independent of hardware (if all of the technical prerequisites are met). It supports asynchronous replication, cloud storage, deduplication, and compression.

What needs improvement?

This product could be improved with the inclusion of new health check procedures. Operations performed in distributed file systems are complex and in case of network outage admins rarely know what is going on. Any kind of simple UI for admins is better than nothing. Something that would admins give fast, easily understandable information about status and rebuild status etc.

For how long have I used the solution?

Less than one year.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

Technically, the solution works as described/expected.

This solution is very stable. The upgrade was done online with no downtime.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

This solution can be expanded to a large environment when needed.

How are customer service and technical support?

We were really positively impressed with the support and help they offered (purchased with the product - with no additional charges).

Their pre and post-sales support were partly the reasons that we choose this solution and overall I would rate their support as excellent.

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

Before we implemented StarWind Virtual SAN, we used scripts and backup software. This was more of a temporary solution than a proper solution for a production environment.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup is straightforward but we tested (evaluation) in a test environment.

What about the implementation team?

Direct contact with the vendor (best option).

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

StarWind is best price/performance for SMB.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We evaluated other solutions including SimpliVity and VMware vSAN, but StarWind Virtual SAN was on top (best choice). This was not just because it fit our budget, but for their pre and after sales support.

What other advice do I have?

We spent time evaluating this product and there is no doubt that the choice to implement this solution for production was the right one.

My advice is to call (contact) them and they will answer your questions to help you find a proper solution.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
reviewer1073631
User
Real User
Helps to monitor critical infrastructure in our small business environment

What is our primary use case?

Our primary use case is to create vSAN for a small business environment and to manage it without using a physical SAN.

How has it helped my organization?

The managed service helps us to monitor our critical infrastructure.

What is most valuable?

The most valuable feature is the managed service, which has been an important part of monitoring our critical infrastructure.

What needs improvement?

I'd like for it to be more user-friendly in the future.

For how long have I used the solution?

One to three years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

I have never felt that StarWind underperformed or was difficult to manage. The core technology just works. I am very happy that I am part of StarWind.

How are customer service and

What is our primary use case?

Our primary use case is to create vSAN for a small business environment and to manage it without using a physical SAN.

How has it helped my organization?

The managed service helps us to monitor our critical infrastructure.

What is most valuable?

The most valuable feature is the managed service, which has been an important part of monitoring our critical infrastructure.

What needs improvement?

I'd like for it to be more user-friendly in the future.

For how long have I used the solution?

One to three years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

I have never felt that StarWind underperformed or was difficult to manage. The core technology just works. I am very happy that I am part of StarWind.

How are customer service and technical support?

The team at StarWind are professional and very skilled in a variety of disciplines. The most impressive factor of the StarWind team is its quick response. They are very cooperative.

How was the initial setup?

The setup and configuration for this solution is very easy and user-friendly.

Training provided by them was up to the mark. The documentation provided by them helps us to understand the functioning of the product more precisely.

What other advice do I have?

I have been very impressed with the StarWind application, referring to every parameter. Reliability, cost, and support.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
Evgenii Korsak
User
Real User
Dramatically reduced down-time and we are able to move to a cluster from stand-alone hypervisors with DAS

Pros and Cons

  • "Before VSAN, hypervisor configuration changes and updates resulted in VM outages. Now, downtime is dramatically reduced."
  • "The cluster configuration is time-consuming and tedious."

What is our primary use case?

StarWind VSAN is used as shared storage for our Hyper-V cluster. We have two nodes, HDDs in RAID 10. HPE ProLiant servers, Windows Server 2016.

How has it helped my organization?

Thanks to StarWind VSAN, we were able to move to a cluster from stand-alone hypervisors with DAS (Direct attached storage). Before VSAN, hypervisor configuration changes and updates resulted in VM outages. Now, downtime is dramatically reduced.

What is most valuable?

The ability to use existing hardware, with no need to purchase hardware appliances is the most valuable feature. 

What needs improvement?

The cluster configuration is time-consuming and tedious. StarWind's guide for a two-node cluster can be found at (https://www.starwindsoftware.com/resource-library/starwind-virtual-san-hyperconverged-2-node-scenario-with-hyper-v-server-2016) and it is a long document to work through. I am not sure if it is possible to make the confiugration process more streamlined on generic hardware. This only affects the cluster configuration, not it's production use. I am very satisfied with the StarWind features so far and not interested in additional ones.

For how long have I used the solution?

Less than one year.

How are customer service and technical support?

The technical support is very good.

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

StarWind is our first hyper-converged solution.

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

The licensing is straightforward, with free and trial versions available. 

Use the trial version before buying. Contact StarWind support in case of questions or issues. The support is very good.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

Before choosing this solution we evaluated HPE SimpliVity, Scale Computing, and Dell EMC.

What other advice do I have?

In my opinion, StarWind is a great solution for businesses with limited infrastructure budgets.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
Николай Фокин
User
Real User
Helped us to make better strategical decisions, work safely and quickly

Pros and Cons

  • "The access to our data is quicker and cheaper than it used to be in a traditional storage system."
  • "In all areas the product could be made faster."

What is our primary use case?

Our primary use case is data storage. It has helped us to make better strategical decisions, work safely and quickly.

How has it helped my organization?

This solution has improved our organization, as it gave us a data storage service that we could rely on and a very sensitive and responsive support service. We are now able to plan better for the future, knowing that support is available.

The access to our data is quicker and cheaper than it used to be in a traditional storage system. It is quite inspiring when you receive quality, speed, and a good relationship with the people in the company.

What is most valuable?

The most valuable features for our company, Cloud4Y, in this system are:

  1. Convenience of work
  2. Working speed
  3. Usage of SATA for a large volume
  4. PCIe Flash
  5. A 40 GB Ethernet

What needs improvement?

In all areas, the product could be made faster.

If any additional features appear, we would appreciate having the service inform us.

We are quite satisfied with the things we have already received, but we
also would be glad to see other inspiring features from a new generation.

For how long have I used the solution?

More than five years.

How are customer service and technical support?

We are satisfied by the level of service we got almost six years ago and continue to receive. We were surprised to see a really user-friendly level of communication and a very high level of technical expertise in their specialists.

We are impressed with the working capacity and speed of answers from the support service, as well as their help to install the software we needed. The responses from the support division, and the fact they take into account all our needs and wishes have really inspired us.

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

Previously, we relied on our own resources. We wanted to work on this with the professionals, so we chose this solution.

What about the implementation team?

The implementation and precise solution were good and fast. We had cooperation from the vendor, and the support was good.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We evaluated other options prior to this, but we didn't like them.

What other advice do I have?

As we now can rely on this company, we recommend that others make the same decision. We would like to add that everyone in our organization has felt the impact of the changes in the services we use and provide.

We also appreciate the long term cooperation that has lasted for years, with a consistent level of service. This allows our company to plan further ahead, as experience has shown that every solution the company provides us is and will remain, satisfying.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
Artur Kamalov
Head of Local Area Network Department at JSC Ufanet
Real User
High availability for a small cost

Pros and Cons

  • "This has helped to improve the reliability of service and operation in all departments, without having to stop in case of emergency situations."
  • "It would help us if the vendor continues to release software updates for earlier versions of the Windows operating systems."

What is our primary use case?

Our primary use case for this product is to obtain high availability for our file servers under the control of the Microsoft Windows 2008 operating system.

How has it helped my organization?

We have a ready-made solution for a small cost. This has helped to improve the reliability of service and operation in all departments, without having to stop in case of emergency situations.

What is most valuable?

The most valuable feature is the ability to offer high availability service without purchasing external storage systems. It is quick, easy, and simple. This is a good, economical solution compared to data storage systems. We saved a lot of money. The system will increase the level of backup, adding an additional copy of the data for the same money.

What needs improvement?

It would help us if the vendor continues to release software updates for earlier versions of the Windows operating systems. For example, Windows Server 2008 R2. We are sitting on earlier Microsoft products while there is support. This is because of the need for new hardware when switching to new software.

For how long have I used the solution?

More than five years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

The stability is very good. We have not observed failure in seven years of use.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

Scaling this solution is easy and simple.

How are customer service and technical support?

Support has standard procedures and rules. It was provided at a good level.

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

We did not use a different solution previously. We switched from a system that did not offer high availability.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup was simple.

What about the implementation team?

The installation was completed by our in-house team.

What was our ROI?

Our return of investment on this product is 100%.

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

My advice is to use all the features of the service, including software updates and technical support.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We did not evaluate other products because this option was the only one available at our cost point.

What other advice do I have?

Overall, this is a good product for good money.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
reviewer1068294
User
Real User
Reduces costs by negating the need for additional equipment and services

Pros and Cons

  • "StarWind Virtual SAN is a very easy-to-use solution that can be quickly and easily deployed and configured without intimate and specific knowledge in the virtualization sphere."
  • "StarWind currently has a Windows native application that it uses for management. There is not a web-based GUI at this time."

What is our primary use case?

Our primary use case is as a virtual storage area network for server clusters and file storage in a production environment for our company.

How has it helped my organization?

This solution reduces the cost of additional equipment and services for the creation and development of corporate infrastructure.

What is most valuable?

StarWind Virtual SAN was designed with virtualization workloads in mind. It employs server-side Flash/RAM caches and minimalist/short I/O path to provide performance unmatched by typical virtual appliances and physical shared storage.

What needs improvement?

StarWind currently has a Windows native application that it uses for management. There is not a web-based GUI at this time. This may be a choice to reduce the services running on the storage nodes but does seem like it would be a good alternative.

For how long have I used the solution?

More than five years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

I feel that this solution is very stable.

How are customer service and technical support?

Qualified online support specialists are always ready to help.

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

We did not use a different solution before this one.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We evaluated VMware before settling on this product.

What other advice do I have?

A thorough analysis and testing of existing offerings in the network storage market has shown that StarWind Virtual SAN is the perfect network storage solution.

It provides the necessary fault tolerance and continuance of business processes.

StarWind Virtual SAN is a very easy-to-use solution that can be quickly and easily deployed and configured without intimate and specific knowledge in the virtualization sphere.

Moreover, the manufacturer's website has detailed documentation that helps to resolve issues. In cases when the documentation is not enough, qualified online support specialists are always ready to help.

In the test environment, the product has shown excellent results and currently is implemented in a production environment.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
TT
Regional IT Manager at SABIS
Real User
High Availability with a friendly user interface and straightforward installation

Pros and Cons

  • "User friendly interface and straight forward implementation."
  • "They recommend RAID10 for HDD, which reduces the usable storage capacity."

What is our primary use case?

StarWind is cost effective. There's no need to purchase additional hardware as shared storage. They have great technical support.

How has it helped my organization?

We saved money because we did not have to purchase shared storage and we benefited from high availability in our Hyper-V environment.

What is most valuable?

It has a user-friendly interface and a straightforward implementation.

Support is great and their staff is experienced.

What needs improvement?

They recommend RAID 10 for HDD which reduces the usable storage capacity. If they could improve this area, it will be of great benefit in terms of storage.

For how long have I used the solution?

More than five years.

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

Cost is affordable and licensing is smooth.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We chose this product based on its good reviews.

What other advice do I have?

Support is very good.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
reviewer1018107
User
Real User
High compatibility with software and hardware

What is our primary use case?

In our organization, we use this software for the first year. It is used to work with backup data storage. Still, it never lets us down, and we never lost our data.

How has it helped my organization?

StarWind made it quite easy to get started. The reliability of storing backup data and their processing speed has increased.

What is most valuable?

Excellent performance High compatibility with software and hardware Fault tolerance It works well with Microsoft servers and Hyper-V.

What needs improvement?

The price is a bit more expensive than analogs.

For how long have I used the solution?

Less than one year.

What is our primary use case?

In our organization, we use this software for the first year. It is used to work with backup data storage. Still, it never lets us down, and we never lost our data.

How has it helped my organization?

StarWind made it quite easy to get started. The reliability of storing backup data and their processing speed has increased.

What is most valuable?

  • Excellent performance
  • High compatibility with software and hardware
  • Fault tolerance
  • It works well with Microsoft servers and Hyper-V.

What needs improvement?

The price is a bit more expensive than analogs.

For how long have I used the solution?

Less than one year.
Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
GrzegorzEBX
Owner at Electronics Box
Real User
Now we have a redundant storage system, so our cluster system is fully redundant

What is our primary use case?

Before, we used a cluster of two Windows servers with shared storage system on a single SAN. One of them was a working clustered SQL server with database mirroring. Every part of the system was redundant except for SAN.

It was almost satisfying.

Every cluster server system we know needs shared storage system. The cluster could be fully redundant, but this redundancy is worth nothing without a redundant storage system.

We had a single SAN system. As a single system, SAN was not redundant. But we needed a redundant storage system. We always were afraid that once upon a time our SAN will stop to work.

We, of course, had backups, but it was not enough.

What we needed was the system with no data loss in case of issues and with no interruption (or only several seconds of interruption) in data processing.

We were looking for a relatively simple and not very expensive solution.

Why have we selected StarWind among other storage solutions? Actually, I don’t know why. Simply, I was looking for a solution using Google. StarWind was the first system I found that gave me hope. When I did some tests with StarWind, I stopped looking for anything more.

How has it helped my organization?

Now we have a redundant storage system, so our cluster system is fully redundant. We now have two clusters of two nodes Windows Hyper-V servers with StarWind VSAN working as hosts.

What is most valuable?

  • It was really very easy to implement, but without support, I couldn't optimize the system, and StarWind gave me technical support on a very good level.
  • A good price is also considerable.

What needs improvement?

I would like to have an easy way of automatic notification about issues, even when I'm away. The system has the possibility to send e-mails, but only in an internal mail system. Simply there is no possiblity the e-mail sender to log on smtp server. Several years ago some smtp server didn't require user to log on. But now it's impossible to send e-mail without login on. So if I had my own company internal e-mail server I could use it. Otherwise not. It's not enough for me.

For how long have I used the solution?

One to three years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

OK.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

It's OK.

How are customer service and technical support?

Support is on a high level.

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

I've used SAN hardware before with no redundancy.

How was the initial setup?

It was easy. But to achieve optimal performance, I needed support.

What about the implementation team?

In-house.

What was our ROI?

No idea.

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

No idea.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

I didn't. StarWind was the first solution I found, and after the first tests, I stopped looking at other solutions.

What other advice do I have?

No.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
Tommy Grignon
User
Real User
Real-time synchronization makes sure we don't have a single point of failure

What is our primary use case?

We are a gold mining partnership in Malartic, Québec where we are working 24 hours a day and seven days a week. About 1500 people are on our sites, 900 user computers and 100 different virtual servers run to maintain the production area. Single point of failure, no real-time synchronization with our disaster recovery site, and we are unable to make updates and upgrades without any cuts on the production infrastructure.

How has it helped my organization?

We can have two sites with real-time synchronization and no more single point of failure. Moreover, we can make updates and upgrades during any hour without cuts on the production infrastructure. All working perfectly, and we are able to make updates and upgrades without any cut on our current production where we work 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

What is most valuable?

Real-time synchronization to make sure we don't have a single point of failure because our company works seven days a week, 24 hours a day, and doesn't have the time to cut the production infrastructure.

What needs improvement?

Central management webpage should be a must-have. We have three different sites where we use VSAN, and a single webpage to manage everything is necessary. For example a website where I can add each cluster and manage everything in one place rather by each physical server.

For how long have I used the solution?

One to three years.
Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
Dan Reynolds
Director of IT at BLDD ARCHITECTS INC
Real User
Top 10
The techs are supportive, understanding and really care about your implementation.

What is our primary use case?

Started with a trial and then moved to the paid version. I have a 3 node cluster, (20) 1TB spinning drives, RAID 0, (3) 800 GB SSD drives, RAID 5 and 18GB RAM cache per node. Using 10G Infiniband for the iSCSI & SYNC network loops. This is to support local disks of VMware Horizon View full clone desktops.

How has it helped my organization?

  • Very fast (replaced EMC SAN). Ultra reliable. I had many, many problems with one of the hosts (ended up being a motherboard) and I never lost a thing. Once you get used to it, it is fairly easy to manage, and the tech support is stellar.
  • I would love to give it more RAM. Even marginal increases in RAM yield dramatic results. No more boot storms.
  • Because of the way VMware has shuffled license "classes" over the years we got ripped off not getting the native VMware vSAN. It seems that maybe for our use case StarWind VSAN is even better and compared to re-negotiating VMware licenses cheaper.

What is most valuable?

Performance, reliability, I love the management console (once I got used to it). It works and it works well. Maybe not exactly a feature but tech support is beyond great. It is fantastic. The techs are supportive, understanding and really care about your implementation. I feel they really want to see you succeed. I'm so pleased with the tech support that I consider it better than any feature.

What needs improvement?

  • The documentation is sub-par. The pre-sales documentation and information is sub-par.
  • StarWind is not cheap. It is not hard to set up but not a cakewalk either. Having tech support set you up is certainly a good value. I would say the performance cost ratio is great, if not fantastic. Be sure to plan well and ask lots of questions.
  • Next release needs to include complete documentation. Even if it's download only or even optional.

For how long have I used the solution?

One to three years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

As I mentioned earlier in my review - one of my nodes had a sick motherboard. it would reboot for no good reason and the most inopportune times. With StarWind HA enabled it wouldn't miss a beat. VM's vMotioned across, storage was stable and when the host came back everything was always OK. Not the ideal way to test stability but it passed the test nonetheless.

I am planning on adding another node to the cluster in the coming weeks. It will be compute only and we will be adding (2) Infiniband switches to support that additional host. Note: only need a switch on the iSCSI side. The sync side will not be involved.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

Seems that 2 node to 3 node is relatively easy. And 3 nodes or less and you don't need a 10G switch for your fabric. Gives you some options. Beyond that I'm not real sure.

How are customer service and technical support?

Tech support is fantastic. As I mentioned I consider StarWind tech support one of the main features. And if the poo poo hits the fan they will back you up and get you going quickly.  I did have issues with quotations from customer support. But we worked it out in the end.  

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

We used a conventional hardware SAN. EMC VNXe. It was end of life and I even tried replacing it - EMC could not make it work right. It kept dropping connections. I kept running the old VNXe and discovered StarWind VSAN. Glad I did.

How was the initial setup?

It was complex and had many steps and procedures but if you don't start with the FREE version they walk you through each step and procedure. I did it the hard way of course. 

What about the implementation team?

I am the team. I did it in house. Then when we moved over to the paid version tech support helped me correct anything that was missing or wrong. 

What was our ROI?

I don't know.

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

Be very clear in what you want. I was misquoted what I needed and ended up having to go back to the boss two times. And was running crippled while doing that. It was not pretty. Make sure they know what you have and what you want. Especially sizes. --This really only applies if you do the FREE method first.  

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

I thought about another SAN but just didn't want to go down that road. The cost to upgrade my VMware licenses to get vSAN from them just didn't seem worth it. 

What other advice do I have?

I think StarWind is a serious contendender. Especially if you don't have the right VMware licenses. But even then - I'm running a 3 node cluster and don't need a separate "witness" box. If you're an SMB and doing VMware you need to consider StarWind as your SAN solution. 

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
MH
IT Manager at a hospitality company with 51-200 employees
Real User
Two-node device gives us storage replication; we can do updates without a complete storage shutdown

Pros and Cons

  • "We are able to do maintenance by bringing down one node at a time, rather than having to schedule a complete shutdown."
  • "It would be helpful to have a little more insight into what kind of performance the VSAN cluster is utilizing; something that would be more proactive on our side, versus their ProActive Support."

What is our primary use case?

We're using it in our DR site for replicating virtual machines from a primary site. We needed a solution that took up less rack space, so we went with something that converged infrastructure. It's providing storage for our virtual platform.

How has it helped my organization?

It provides some fault-tolerance redundancy. Originally, we just had a single point of failure for storage. By having StarWind with a two-node device, we're able to replicate storage and then we can do updates, maintenance, and repairs, without having to bring down our entire storage platform.

It definitely saves us time. We are able to do a lot of our maintenance during production hours, rather than having to schedule after hours. We are able to do maintenance by bringing down one node at a time, rather than having to schedule a complete shutdown, and it's easier to schedule with Dell EMC or whoever else to make sure that they're available for any support during that process. By having StarWind, we're able to minimize maintenance impact and coordinating different support to be available around those timeframes.

It's helped maintain high-availability. Having a second unit replicating is providing us with the availability that we need to make sure our virtual machines have the storage connected they need to be operational.

What is most valuable?

We just use it for the storage replication. We haven't really utilized any of the other StarWind functionality in it.

What needs improvement?

It would be helpful to have a little more insight into what kind of performance the VSAN cluster is utilizing; something that would be more proactive on our side, versus their ProActive Support.

For how long have I used the solution?

Less than one year.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

It has been rock-stable. No issues.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

The scalability is there. We just have a two-node, so everything is connected together, not through a switch. I'm assuming that with the help of StarWind the scalability would be limitless.

We don't have any immediate plans to expand. If we did need to, it would be more of a compute expansion, so we would use the existing storage and use additional compute clusters.

How are customer service and technical support?

We don't use the ProActive Support. We have the Standard level. It's very good. We haven't had any issues with it. They're very responsive and knowledgeable.

The only issues we had were during the implementation. We haven't had to reach out for any post-installation help.

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

We were using a single Dell EMC storage device. There was no software solution. We were looking to build out a DR site. We wanted to avoid having a single point of failure, like we did at our main location. If everything went well during our DR site rollout, we would configure a similar setup in our corporate location.

How was the initial setup?

Surprisingly, the setup was straightforward. We were up and running with the VSAN within a few hours. Then we started doing some production virtual machines. We didn't really run into any issues with the VSAN part of it. The Windows updates caused an issue that we worked through. Support was very helpful with that.

It was a new deployment. There really wasn't any type of timeframe where we had to meet critical deadlines. We did have a plan to get our DR site up and running, and VSAN definitely made it a lot easier for us to do that.

The deployment required two of our IT staff and one person from StarWind.

What about the implementation team?

It was just our internal IT and StarWind Support.

What was our ROI?

It has definitely made things a lot easier to deploy. Our biggest issue was not being tied to a hardware vendor, so if we decide to switch from EMC Dell to HPE or Supermicro, we can continue to use the StarWind solution across the different hardware brands. That's especially important with drive prices changing. We're able to use commodity drives instead of hardware-branded drives. That's an area where there have been some cost savings.

Also, the ability to be hardware agnostic means we're able to shop across vendors for better pricing.

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

It's priced fairly. It was definitely cheaper than the competition. The licensing terms are straightforward and reasonable.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We looked into Tegile and Tintri, about two years prior. We've also looked at some Dell EMC solutions. We were able to go with any hardware vendor we wanted to and the reviews for the software solution showed that it was highly recommended.

What other advice do I have?

Utilize the StarWind installation team to get you up and running. They do everything from start to finish and even make sure that your production workload is running sufficiently.

We haven't used the Log-structured Write Cache feature or the NVMe over Fabrics target. Right now, our solution is all solid-state disk.

In terms of maintenance, a lot of it is scripted or managed automatically. It just takes one person to periodically check in to see if it's performing well and if there are any errors. That person is a systems administrator.

I would give StarWind VSAN a nine out of ten. They have good support. It's reasonably priced. It gives you the ability to scale. It offers good storage availability.

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.
reviewer1007766
User
Real User
Has made it easy to work with backups and save server data

What is our primary use case?

We have two StarWind VSAN nodes installed in a small company. We're mirroring these nodes where all services are installed.

How has it helped my organization?

StarWind Virtual SAN has made it easy to work with backups and save server data by mirroring two servers.

What is most valuable?

We found the most valuable features to be:  Easy installation, Easy to work with, Very good support.

What needs improvement?

We would like the price to be lower.  In the next releases, we would like a new improved interface. 

For how long have I used the solution?

Three to five years.

What is our primary use case?

We have two StarWind VSAN nodes installed in a small company. We're mirroring these nodes where all services are installed.

How has it helped my organization?

StarWind Virtual SAN has made it easy to work with backups and save server data by mirroring two servers.

What is most valuable?

We found the most valuable features to be: 

  • Easy installation,
  • Easy to work with,
  • Very good support.

What needs improvement?

  • We would like the price to be lower. 
  • In the next releases, we would like a new improved interface. 

For how long have I used the solution?

Three to five years.
Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
reviewer1002462
User
Real User
Gave us a new template for upgrading aging infrastructure sans expensive enterprise storage hardware

What is our primary use case?

We use StarWind for multiple 2-node hyperconverged Hyper-V Windows clusters in our datacenter environment.

How has it helped my organization?

It gave us a new template for upgrading aging infrastructure sans expensive enterprise storage hardware.

What is most valuable?

Ease of installation, configuration, and management. It literally took us less than two hours to have a fully functional 2-node cluster.

What needs improvement?

There is a limit on HA storage for standard and professional versions which is too low to be very useful for any but the smallest of SMBs or startups. Most SMBs we work with have more than 50TB of data, so the 4TB and 8TB limits are nothing more than a sales gimmick. The enterprise-level supports unlimited HA storage but starts competing with Windows Server (S2D) at the price point. The hardware requirement for S2D, however, puts the Windows HCI out of reach for most SMBs.

For how long have I used the solution?

One to three years.
Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
DG
Information Systems Manager at a aerospace/defense firm with 51-200 employees
Real User
Top 10
The way virtual SAN is set up, we don't have to buy a separate appliance for storage

Pros and Cons

  • "One of the most valuable features is the way it sets up the virtual SAN, because we don't have to buy a separate appliance for storage. It uses the existing storage on the servers, which is definitely a cost savings for us."
  • "The documentation could be a little more concise, but, for the most part, it just works."

What is our primary use case?

We needed to consolidate our physical servers, so we went with the StarWind cluster to virtualize our servers.

How has it helped my organization?

We went down from eight discrete servers to two, so it's saving us money and electricity in cooling.

It's definitely saving us a bunch of time as far as server maintenance is concerned, because it's all virtualized. I would guess it saves us a good 20 to 30 hours a year, just in maintenance. 

We've also seen some performance gains over accessing the discrete servers, approximately five to ten percent faster access times to data. It has helped to maintain high-performance and data high-availability on minimalistic resources by doing load-balancing and resource-sharing seamlessly. The user never sees any downtime, any performance issues. It's just all done very well behind the scenes.

There's also a peace of mind aspect, knowing that we have failover now. Before, if a server went down, it could take days to get things back up and running, whereas now, if a VM fails, it's just minutes to get it back up and running.

What is most valuable?

One of the most valuable features is the way it sets up the virtual SAN, because we don't have to buy a separate appliance for storage. It uses the existing storage on the servers, which is definitely a cost savings for us.

What needs improvement?

The documentation could be a little more concise, but, for the most part, it just works.

For how long have I used the solution?

Less than one year.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

It's a very stable platform. The only way you can really break it is if you do something that you shouldn't, like shut a server, shut one of the nodes down without moving your VMs to the other node first.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

As far as scalability goes, especially with adding storage, it's dirt-simple. It's so easy to do. I'm very impressed with that aspect of it.

How are customer service and technical support?

StarWind Proactive Support is fairly responsive. They definitely go above and beyond to address the issues, when there are issues. We had a minor crisis a few months back, and they spent hours on the phone with me over a weekend to get our servers back up and running. The quality of service is really good.

If I were to say anything - not so much critical - there is a language barrier to overcome, but that's a minor issue. It doesn't affect their knowledge, ability, or willingness to help. It's just sometimes a little difficult to communicate adequately.

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

We did not have a previous solution. We went with it for virtualization, and we chose StarWind because it was a software-only solution and we could use off-the-shelf hardware. Everybody else that I looked at was basically selling appliances. They were just outside of our budget.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup was a little complex, just to get the cluster configured, the iSCSI, etc. That was a little bit confusing because I had conflicting documentation.

Overall, our deployment took about three weeks. Our implementation strategy was to get the StarWind cluster built, working, and tested before virtualizing our servers, and then migrating them a couple at a time.

What about the implementation team?

We set it up ourselves.

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

Their pricing seems pretty good, and their licensing structure is pretty straightforward.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We looked into Nutanix, as well as Red Hat's solution, but StarWind seemed to be the best setup for us, the best fit for our environment.

What other advice do I have?

Definitely get a trial license. I'm pretty sure they still have a free version that you can download. Set it up in a sandbox and see if it makes sense for your environment. The great thing about it is it is all Microsoft-based, so if you're familiar with Hyper-V, then it's really pretty simple.

In terms of our users, it's pretty much just me managing it. It's running our production environment. Ideally, I'd like to add our third node this year so that I have extra available overhead so that we can be more proactive with maintenance, etc.

I would rate StarWind at eight out of ten. There's always room for improvement.

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.
Bryan Schuler
Network Administrator at MUM Industries
Real User
It is more flexible than most VSAN solutions. You can run it across two hosts. You don't need a third host observing it.

Pros and Cons

  • "The control panel is nice. It gives you a lot of good feedback as to the status and health of the VSAN."
  • "For improvement, I would like to see how the software determines which networks to use for which purpose. It seems like the naming terminology changes a bit from here to there."

What is our primary use case?

We had a need for some high speed I/O in our data center to run some specific high demand virtual machines. We currently have an older SAN unit, but it's slow, since it uses mechanical drives. Therefore, we decided to obtain a bunch of Intel SSDs and attach them directly to the two virtualized hosts, then I used StarWind virtual machines as the controllers to tie them together into a VSAN. After that, I moved the VMs over. Once everything was hooked up and talking to each other, it works fine.

How has it helped my organization?

It is more of a perceptual thing with the users. The system that we moved onto it is our ERP system, which handles everything. It handles our orders, workflow, and shop work orders. It was by far the slowest, clunkiest system that we have here. When we put it together the StarWind Virtual SAN, and we moved it onto the flash drives, everything seemed to run a lot faster. I went from a drive system that peaked out at 2000 IOPS to a system that could now do over 200,000 IOPS. It was absolutely a night and day difference. Everything is just snappier. When you open windows, they instantly pop up. It is not sitting there, twiddling its thumbs, waiting for stuff to come up, which is huge. It seems user systems and interfaces have gotten so slow over the last 10 to 15 years. When things happen fast and snappy, it is a huge bonus in the user's eyes.

The software just works. That is what I like about good IT software. I rarely, if ever, have to go into the StarWind servers. I go in every couple weeks just to check if there are any Windows updates for it. However, for the most part, it is all hands off. It just works. It just does its job. I don't have to mess with it. I don't have to monkey with it or do anything. I am going into our backup system more often than I am our VSAN controllers. I have to go into the email on Office 365 to change things around (or figure out why somebody lost emails) more often than I have to worry about StarWind. 

In the IT world, anything you can just let run is amazing.

What is most valuable?

  • The control panel is nice. It gives you a lot of good feedback as to the status and health of the VSAN. 
  • The synchronization is very nice. 
  • I like its flexibility. It is more flexible than most VSAN solutions that I have seen. For example, you can run it across two hosts. You don't need a third host observing it.

What needs improvement?

For improvement, I would like to see how the software determines which networks to use for which purpose. It seems like the naming terminology changes a bit from here to there. When I access the console on the computer, where is it going in through:

  • The computer's connections?
  • The heartbeat connection?
  • The iSCSI connection?

It is a little odd as far as making sure those networks are isolated just for their function.

On the console, there is no good way to see how all the networks are allocated. Other than that, once they are set up and allocated, everything seems to run nicely. I just don't want, e.g., my heartbeat network bleeding into other things, like the iSCSI.

For this market, in general, it would be nice if I could go to a website where they had all the pricing listed comparatively, then maybe I could shop around.

For how long have I used the solution?

One to three years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

It just works. I don't even know if there is a new version of it out there. I haven't checked if there's a new version, though I should probably upgrade it. Now, that I have the system sort of pulled apart, I am in the middle of upgrading everything. I moved our ERP system back on to our old SANs for a while. Now, the whole StarWind array is cleared off to be pulled apart and have new drives put in, I should probably look at whether it is all at the latest version.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

It has good scalability. You can add in almost anything that you want. The only oddball thing is with the three-tiered licensing. If you are looking to do anything highly scalable, such as replace your SAN, which is what we are doing now, you might as well go straight for the enterprise version. Just save yourself the headache of anything else. However, if you have a small project, and only need a couple VMs on some high speed stuff, you can use the free version or standard version. The standard version has the support, which if you are in corporate IT, it would be foolish not to get it.

How are customer service and technical support?

The times that I have called the StarWind ProActive Support, they were immediate and right there. I have had no issues with their support. When I call them, I am talking with somebody in very little time, and the people that I have talked to have all been incredibly knowledgeable. They knew exactly what was going on.

The only issue that I had was, at one point, we had a power failure which took out our main power system. The battery system powering our whole data center and the main switch (or something) blew out, so the whole thing wasn't delivering any power, even though we had it coming out from the wall. It took down all our hosts, just dirty, with everything running. When we brought everything back up, we had a hard time getting the VSAN to reinitialize properly. So, I gave the support a call. They went through it, and we found because it went down like that, we had to step everything and ensure the first one comes up, then the second one, then sit and synchronize them. Afterwards, we sent things out for it to rescan the array, then once it got up and running, everything was fine again. However, that was the only time that I was on the phone's screaming, "Help!"

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

This is our first VSAN solution.

How was the initial setup?

It was a little bit complex with VMware, because it seems like they are a little more used to Windows Hyper-V.

The initial setup didn't take long. The only hang up was I didn't have some of the networking in place. I had to get a pair of ten gigabit network cards to run between the two servers for iSCSI links and the synchronization (the heartbeat). Once I got those in place and plugged together, then it was pretty quick and easy. 

Once the solution was up and running, it was pretty good. There were some extra scripts that we had to run on our end. 

I do all the maintenance myself. Now that it is deployed, maintenance is approximately once every two weeks. It is not even StarWind, it is checking on the Windows machine that it's running on. 

Recently, we have been in the middle of a project to completely retire our mechanical SAN and replace all those drives, each of which are about a quarter terabyte. We want to replace them all with four terabyte drives (SSDs), then move everything to a giant StarWind Virtual SAN controlling it.

What about the implementation team?

I did the deployment mostly myself. However, with the purchase, I was able to receive some help. Therefore, I brought StarWind in just to check things over, ensuring everything was good. That is when we tweaked the scripts a bit, so if the servers were to reboot, it would tell the machines to rescan for the iSCSI connection once it came up.

As for implementation strategy, I had always kept StarWind in the back of my head in case I had a need to use it. When we had a need, I decided to make the suggestion. I went onto Spiceworks, where I knew some people there from StarWind. While I don't know if they are full representatives, they definitely spoke highly of it. So, I hit them up, saying, "I'm looking to do this. Is this thing possible?" 

One of the guys from Spiceworks put me in contact with a StarWind sales rep. When I described my project to them, he said, "Yes, it's easily done. All you have to do is this and that." He pointed me to some documents on their network to read through, and it was simple from that point. It's like, "I could do that, and I could probably do this all myself."

I got the free version at first. Then, I got the thing up and running, for the most part, without any help, aside from the reboot scripts. 

I tested it on a couple like dummy VMs, checking what happens if I reboot a machine. Everything worked beautifully. It was totally transparent. I never lost my network connection nor storage. So, I saw it was a win. Later on, I got the actual licensing, and this is when the guy came in to check over my installation, etc. Everything worked at that point and has been running ever since. That is when I moved the ERP system over on one weekend and have never really looked back.

What was our ROI?

This solution helped maintain high performance and data high availability on minimalistic resources. For example, with our ERP system, we went from an old spinning rust array to a all-flash array. Because StarWind allows that and for it to be a VSAN for high availability, if I lose a host, the ERP system will still continue to run. If I have to put a host into maintenance mode, and move all of its processing to the another, I can do that because it is transparent. StarWind doesn't care. When I get the host powered back up, the array resynchronizes, and everything runs as normal. So, it works, as far as high availability. Like any other good system, it is transparent. Behind the scenes, it does what it's supposed to do.

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

I was so impressed by what I saw, because at first, you set it up for free. I set it up for free to see how it worked, because I was losing nothing but time. After I set it up, and everything worked, I was like, "Okay, I don't need anything else for this. Let's get the licensing and go."

The pricing is more than reasonable.

The licensing is a bit weird. If you license the standard version of StarWind, it allows you four terabytes. Then, they have a pro version, but with the pro version, the only difference is it doubles the terabytes to eight. However, that is just one drive size upwards in an array. You are first going from two terabyte drives to four terabyte drives, then you will soon be going to eight terabyte drives and upwards, for SSDs which are coming out.

Therefore, it is weird that they have the middle tier in there, their pro tier. Then, they have their enterprise, which is unlimited. I can see their licensing better structured if their lower tier either had less drive space or the middle tier had more, by maybe a factor of four rather than doubling it. 

From a sales and marketing point of view, the difference between going from pro to unlimited is unclear. It seems like, "Why not just go unlimited? Why even have the middle tier there?"

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

I did explore VMware's native VSAN solution. However, its biggest limitation is it requires three nodes. We have two very heavy duty host servers and getting a third one would have been costly. Each server is roughly around $25,000 USD. Therefore, getting a third one, so we could run a VSAN using VMware, was a bit prohibitive. This is why I went to StarWind in the first place.

What other advice do I have?

Go for it. Just set it up and follow the instructions. Start with the free version. Make a test bed and play around with it. Then, see how you like it and how it works. because it works. There is nothing hard about it. Once you get it working and understand how the system is implemented in your data center, then everything else is dotting i's and crossing t's. You can get the official licensing for the support or any larger array sizes that you may need. You can allocate and tell it to transfer things as you normally would, as it is a very impressive system. It is probably one of the things that I have been happiest about in my environment.

The Log-structured Write Cache feature works works transparently, so I haven't really noticed it. I assume it helps with application resiliency and performance since it is working.

NVMe over Fabrics would definitely be incredibly fast. It is something that I don't have the architecture to even consider here, but it does sound very cool and fast. I have worked with NVMe drives and SSD systems, and the interface is much wider and faster than your typical, older systems, like SATA and SAS, which were meant for mechanical systems. It would be very impressive, and I would like to get a chance to work with something like that to see its performance.

I was not even aware that there was a way to integrate the solution with server OS native management tools, like vCenter. We are using the vCenter appliance, which is Linux based. It doesn't seem to integrate things too well into it, even though it is the recommended way that they have us doing it. If there is some plugin, or something for it to directly integrate, I would be totally up for that.

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.
RO
Deputy Director of Technology and Communications at a comms service provider with 51-200 employees
Real User
The ProActive support provides peace of mind and is not expensive

Pros and Cons

  • "The ProActive support gives me peace of mind because I am a one man shop, but with the technical support behind me, I feel like more than just one person. We spent two to three hours, depending on what we have to do, always on the phone, and they do not push to end the call."
  • "With data verification, I would like to know how does the solution perform validation of data being synced between two VSANs."
  • "Initially, when we first started, the sync was horrible."

What is our primary use case?

The primary use case is to provide a virtual storage for our data and virtual machines. Not having a budget for a physical SAN, we use what we have to get the best of what we have, this is primary reason for using this VSAN.

How has it helped my organization?

I don't have to stay late at night. Prior to using this VSAN, if anything happened to a server, everything went down. We couldn't do anything, and that was a nightmare. There was even a time where all the data on the server got wiped. People were unable to work for half a day.

We did have a backup. We had to go to a third party to get a hard drive, have it shipped, and upload the data back into the server, then foster continuum. It happened like that twice before they said, “Enough is enough, what are our options?” 

We had the option of a physical server, but the cost would have been $25,000 or $30,000. So, we had two servers that were underutilized, and they were good servers, old but well-maintained. Therefore, we sat with the IT company, where I'm employed, and they said, "You can either go with a physical server or a VSAN, Virtual SAN." We were like, “Okay, tell us about the VSAN.”

They mentioned, “You have two servers, buy more hard drive, RAM, and CPU." Those are things we could easily do. “Then, you will have the VSAN mirror one to the other, and whatever you have in one will other copy to the other.” For instance, if we lose a physical server, CPU, etc., it provides peace of mind, is cost effective, and we are able to use our existing infrastructure. 

What is most valuable?

The most attractive feature is, as a Virtual SAN, the data on one is copied to the data on the second. We have two in tandem. So, the data on one is the same as the data on the second one. If we need to do maintenance on the server, it doesn't necessarily have to be after hours, or recommended after hours. If I need to do something in an emergency, I can stop the sync and know that one server has all the information, do what I need to do, and sync them back.

Once we resolve the syncing issues, a first sync of about 4TB of data was done in under 30 minutes. The ability to have the office run and do emergency backup repairs without the company being down was a feature that I liked about this VSAN.

What needs improvement?

Initially, when we first started, the sync was horrible. It would take about 13 hours. However, they have since then improved on it. It also depends on the pipe. We had a small pipe back then. So, we would do things at around 8:00 AM, then by 4:00 or 5:00 in the morning (the next day), everything would be back on. Once we upgraded the pipe between them, within half an hour, it was synced.

StarWind made us understand that we had a small pipe and our drives were not SSD, but SATA. All these things contributed because they have tons of clients. Thus, if we were the only ones having this issue, then we had the issue.

Once we made the changes, we saw amazing improvement on the way it synced. Instead of 13 hours, it took five to ten minutes for it to complete. For improvement, there should be simpler, user-friendly training about how the system works. I have dabbled in it, but if I need to do anything I'd rather pick up the phone, call them, and say, "This is what I need to do," and they're more than happy to help. While they do have help documentation, there is a relatively steep learning curve.

You need to take into consideration the amount of data that you are syncing as it will come into play: The amount of data that needs to sync between the two devices and the amount of data that the pipe has to read right. 

With data verification, I would like to know how does the solution perform validation of data being synced between two VSANs. If data is corrupt, how does it determine that I'm not going to sync something because it's corrupt? How does any software determine that the data is bad. Then, how does it fix it? Because if we get corrupted on one server, we don't want to transfer it to the other server.

For how long have I used the solution?

Three to five years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

The product is stable. If we receive error messages, it is usually regarding the underlying technology since we are using servers which are 11-years-old.

If I am concerned about upgrading on my older system, I can schedule time with the support team and they will do the upgrade for me.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

The solution is really scalable. They have various models. We told them the maximum data that we have and found the right one for us. We can grow, as it expands. It is not a one size fits all.

We have 41 people who can access data which resides on the VSAN.

How are customer service and technical support?

I like the ProActive support. All the guys that I have spoken or dealt with are professionals. I find this very important. There hasn't been anything like, “Hold on, let me check with my colleague.” They know exactly what they were doing and are consistent. If guy A connects to my computer, he does step one, two, three, and four. There hasn't been any poking around where they shouldn't. 

Being able to call someone who is knowledgeable about the situation and circumstance is important. They also followed up to say, “Have you resolved the issue? Is everything okay?”

The ProActive Support gives me peace of mind because I am a one man shop, but with the technical support behind me, I feel like more than just one person. We spent two to three hours, depending on what we have to do, always on the phone, and they do not push to end the call. It feels like they are assigned to me until the end of whatever we are doing, which is important to me.

Since the beginning that is how the support has been. That is why we stayed with them. It's not that expensive. I have nothing but good things to say about them. All their work is documented. I receive an email afterwards documenting all the steps that they did.

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

We did not have a solution before StarWind. A consultant recommended this solution. We were also looking into physical solutions, not virtual.

How was the initial setup?

I didn't build the system for us; I manage it. We had someone else do the build. If you spoke to him, he would tell you the build was easy. Give him the instructions, then he just created it. 

The deployment took two and a half to four hours. We did the deployment in the evening, and it was fully operational before we left. The deployment was done by a single person who did the connectivity and configurations, though there were some things that I had to do to build the virtual machine.

I am the only person needed to maintain, though I occasionally contact StarWind ProActive support, when needed. It is a low maintenance solution. It is as good as your infrastructure. Like every road, the foundation of the road determines the asphalt you put on it. If you have a good foundation (SSD drives), then it works well. The issues that we had were based on server error messages, because sometimes when people were downloading stuff, they'd say, "It is too slow." However, once we built a bigger pipe, we could see the change.

In hindsight, the Virtual SAN was meant to be a stop-gap solution. Make sure what happened before, if a server dies, we have business continuity. That was the goal. It so happened that the business continuity and stop-gap became a lasting solution which we continue to use because it works well.

What about the implementation team?

There was a third-party consultant, who fine tuned it, but our guy created it after downloading the software. He has done it multiple times. If you were to ask him, he would tell you, "It's a walk in the park."

Our experience with the third-party consultant was excellent. The guy who I dealt with is a system admin. He is the one who informed us about the solution. He had deployed it for another client and thought it was just the right size for us, so he recommended it. 

There was an implementation strategy. We had all the data in a hard drive. After a crash, we had all the data in a backup drive. Once it was restored, we configured it on one server, then we transferred the data from that server to the VSAN occupied part of the hard drive array. After that, we built the other one on the other server, then the sync started. It was a phased in implementation.

You need to ensure that you have the right technical resource to implement the solution. Our guy was knowledgeable and a teacher. He imparted knowledge telling you why he was doing what he was doing and consulted you before doing it. He had a plan and submitted a proposal, which we looked at it. It showed what he needed and how it was going to take to get done. Therefore, the technical resource is very important.

What was our ROI?

This solution has helped us maintain high performance and data high availability on minimalistic resources. We have saved about 80 percent (versus purchasing a physical SAN) and peace of mind, which is important.

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

The pricing is fine for the work that it does. I have had no issues. When we bought it three to four years ago for what we needed, it was literally cheaper than the alternative which was ten times the amount and took up physical space. 

The license is reusable. We can always rebuild it and apply the license. Then, boom, we get new servers, apply the license, and we're back up and running.

What other advice do I have?

We are not using the Log-structured Write Cache feature nor are we using NVMe.

We have not integrated this solution with server OS native management tools. We are just interested in business continuity. If the server blows up, we will still be in business. It does what we want, and we are happy with it.

As of now, since it does exactly what we want it to do, so I do not see where we would need to use features that we are currently not using. We were sold on the fact that we could use our existing infrastructure, and it syncs data if we lose one server. 

StarWind Virtual SAN might not be for everybody. We had the underlining technology, so it worked for us. Give it a try. You can't go wrong, because one of the things they told us is that if you no longer use it, StarWind would credit us a certain amount against a different solution that they had. It was a win-win for us.

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.
AH
IT Manager at a computer software company with 51-200 employees
Real User
Asynchronous replication means our servers are backed up continuously throughout the day

Pros and Cons

  • "I like the asynchronous replication and failover features. They are what I'm primarily using it for. The asynchronous replication is helpful because our servers are backed up continuously throughout the day. If anything goes wrong we just fail over immediately. That is a very nice feature to have."
  • "I'm sure it needs bug fixes..."

What is our primary use case?

The primary use case is backup storage for our VM servers. 

How has it helped my organization?

Our day-to-day servers are all on StarWind and our backups went from nightly to every minute. That improves disaster recovery time from hours to minutes.

In addition, it has helped us to maintain high performance and data high availability on minimalistic resources. We haven't bought any hardware, it was all stuff we already had. We just reconfigured it and got new features. In terms of costs, it has reduced what we would have had to pay. We have saved approximately 80 percent. We would have had to buy a $100,000 server. Instead, we ended up with a $20,000 server and a little bit of software.

What is most valuable?

I like the asynchronous replication and failover features. They are what I'm primarily using it for. The asynchronous replication is helpful because our servers are backed up continuously throughout the day. If anything goes wrong we just fail over immediately. That is a very nice feature to have.

In addition, we have it integrated with vCenter which makes the failover automatic. It's basically set-it-and-forget-it.

What needs improvement?

I'm sure it needs bug fixes, and there are new features coming down the pipe, but it works great.

For how long have I used the solution?

Less than one year.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

It's been completely stable for us. There were some bugs initially which slowed us down, but those were related to VMware and not StarWind.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

You can resize things on the fly as needed, add more storage as needed. Since it's all on Windows, you can expand the disk as much as needed and as quickly as possible.

How are customer service and technical support?

Their support has been excellent. They will walk you through every step of the way and help you with anything you need. They're great.

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

We were using direct-attached for the primary servers and FreeNAS for the backups. We switched for the real-time replication and the failover.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup was straightforward but it was also complex. There were a bunch of steps, but it was all very well documented and very well laid out. You follow steps and you end up with a working system at the end.

It took me a couple weeks, but that was because I had other things going on and a rather complex system. But if you just wanted the basics, you could probably get it set up in a couple of hours.

As part of my implementation strategy, I first set it up on three-way replication servers and after that was done, put it into production.

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

The pricing is excellent. It will run on anything. You don't have to buy a $100,000 server, with hardware you don't need. You just pay for the license and you're good to go.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We didn't evaluate any other vendors. In our price range, this was the only vendor.

What other advice do I have?

The pricing is based on the amount of storage, so you should evaluate how much storage you're going to need for your license. I believe there's an unlimited tier which is also very reasonable.

In our organization, it's the backing data-store for the entire company, which is about 85 users. Programmers and management people make up our studio. For deployment and maintenance, it's just me with the support team at StarWind.

We don't have plans to increase usage. We're a small studio and we're not going to get bigger.

I give StarWind a ten out of ten. They have great support, a great product, it's simple and easy to use, and has a great price.

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.
MH
Owner at Split Digital LLC
Real User
Reduced our overall maintenance and overhead by having to only maintain physical boxes for one cluster

Pros and Cons

  • "It has reduced our overall maintenance and overhead by having to only maintain physical boxes for one cluster instead of having to manage physical boxes for two clusters."
  • "It has reduced the amount of switching, network connections, etc., because the converged StarWind Virtual SAN allows us to connect high-speed network interfaces between different boxes instead of having to connect SANs via the network, then connect those two clusters together."
  • "If there are domain controllers inside the cluster, there needs to be some sort of logic allowing them to boot independently so all the rest of the domain clients can gain the authority they need to come online."

What is our primary use case?

We use it for data redundancy and failover.

How has it helped my organization?

Instead of having to maintain two completely separate systems:

  1. The cluster where all the data processing is happening.
  2. Maintaining the SAN clustering.

Now, we can do everything in one location, because the storage and processing are all happening on the same cluster. It has reduced our overall maintenance and overhead by having to only maintain physical boxes for one cluster instead of having to manage physical boxes for two clusters. 

It also has reduced the amount of switching, network connections, etc., because the converged StarWind Virtual SAN allows us to connect high-speed network interfaces between different boxes instead of having to connect SANs via the network, then connect those two clusters together.

StarWind is more cost effective because it is converged storage. Instead of having to pay for a full-blown SAN, as we did in the past, and having to maintain that SAN as a separate cluster, we now can use local storage on each individual node. So, it reduces the cost and overhead drastically.

NVMe is sort of the future, because it's so fast. In our next round, we will use NVMe drives exclusively for our main storage. Then, we will probably use two and a half inch SSDs for our nearline. 

What is most valuable?

The most valuable feature is the ability to lose a node and not have my systems go down.

What needs improvement?

If there are domain controllers inside the cluster, there needs to be some sort of logic allowing them to boot independently so all the rest of the domain clients can gain the authority they need to come online. We made that mistake at first. We have since moved one of our domain controllers out of the cluster, so everything can obtain whatever authentication it needs on the initial boot. Ultimately, Microsoft says they support it, but we would like to see all of our domain controllers running within the cluster, too. We don't want to have additional hardware just to run domain controllers.

For how long have I used the solution?

Less than one year.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

The stability is excellent. I have had a couple of stability problems, but they weren't related to StarWind. They were related to some power problems that we had in the data center. Once we had those sorted out, everything has been smooth as glass. I did follow their advice in getting network interface cards, and we put in some very fast 40GB network cards. This has helped us a bit because everything happens very quickly, and StarWind support even helped me on the management interface to team the 10GB connections. So, the stability has been phenomenal.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

Scalability has been very easy, so far. We have had to resize some of the drives. The most complex thing which we have had to deal with was that one of the servers needed more than two terabytes of space, and it was an MBR formatted drive. I found some tools that allowed me to convert from MBR to GPT without having to reformat the drive or lose data. Then, we were able to expand that, too. Those are normal Windows management tasks, but we were able to do them within the StarWind environment without having to use anything besides one third-party tool for the GPT conversion. That part of the scalability has been excellent because we can just allocate disk space wherever we need it. 

Overall, we have about 200 users. For simultaneous users, who are on all the time during business hours, it is probably closer to 60 or 70.

How are customer service and technical support?

When I've had a problem, I have had someone respond almost immediately. If not picking up the phone and helping me right then and there, it's within approximately 30 minutes. They have been able to help me with every single type of problem that I have had. They have also helped me with entirely different stuff in the server environment, which has helped me tremendously. I pay for that extra support, and I'll upgrade it each time because it's so helpful.

I recently ran into a problem where all my user profile disks were full, and it was not clear to me how to enlarge that user profile disk. Their support person, Artem, just jumped in with me, and within ten minutes, he'd provided me everything I needed for the PowerShell commands. He enlarged the ones that he could. For the ones that were in use, he showed me how to do it. So, when they were no longer in use, I went ahead and enlarged them. Then, I mounted each of them and expanded them to use the space. If I hadn't had him, I'd have had three users who were down today since this just happened yesterday. 

Today, all three of them are fully functional. If I hadn't have had that quick response and willingness to help, it would have created some headaches. Instead, their support works really well. I'm very pleased with the StarWind technical support. It is excellent. I have the Premium support. I have never worked with a company who is as responsive and helpful with everything I run into.

Knowing that I can call the technical support and get a senior level technician if I need it any time is a huge thing. Because if I have to wait until business hours to get a consultant, I have to make an arrangement in the schedule with them, and if it's after hours, you will lose 24 to 36 hours in there. With Starwind, I can get help almost immediately, so its a no-brainer.

I would do the ProActive, except that I have a contract that does not allow me to have third-party monitoring installed on any of our servers. 

The Premium support (or Pro support), which is what I have, is worth every dollar. The ProActive support has the same people running it, so I am sure it is good, too. Unfortunately, I can't take advantage of it because of the contractual obligations that I have.

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

Our SDS software before StarWind was a SAN. It wasn't converged storage. It was a full-blown, normal SAN configuration.

We switched to StarWind because we were upgrading everything all at one. We ran into budget constraints which would make building a new SAN almost impractical, if not impossible, to fit it into the budget. Secondarily, the SAN required a lot of maintenance, and we were looking for a less expensive solution. We also wanted something that would not require so much technician time.

Previously, we had two full-time people taking care of the SAN, cluster, etc. Now, we only have one. So, StarWind cut our technical labor force in half (cutting this cost in half), and we didn't lay anybody off. We were able to nicely redeploy resources.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup is mildly complex to fairly complex.

For our implementation strategy, we virtualized some of the physical servers, and we already had several virtualized machines. Therefore, as soon as the StarWind environment was set up, I just imported the virtual machines, bringing them up and online. We did a few network configuration tasks to make sure everything worked, then we were good to go.

It only takes me to maintain it once it is up and running. I have a backup person who handles stuff if I go on vacation (or whatever), but it only takes one person to maintain everything.

What about the implementation team?

The StarWind support team goes through it and does the installation with you. It was super easy for me. I learned a lot in the process, but they set it up. The deployment took three hours from beginning to end with just the StarWind support and me.

What was our ROI?

This solution has helped maintain high performance and data high availability on minimalistic resources. Even though we got rid of our SAN, we are still getting higher performance for significantly less outlay, dollar-wise.

It is more efficient on the management side. 

The Log-structured Write Cache (LWC) feature speeds things up for us. Our performance is better than it was on the SAN. However, I don't know if it's directly related to the LWC or whether there is lower latency between the onboard storage and what was the SAN. I'm sure that it helps performance, but I wouldn't know a metric to measure it, specifically.

With the support that I receive from StarWind, it has saved me at least two full-blown, paid Microsoft tickets. For each of Microsoft ticket, we pay about $600 USD a piece for it. While this is not a big cost, it eliminated a headache for us. In addition, we saved on technical consultant costs.

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

For pricing, you have two things that come into it: 

  1. The cost of the hardware.
  2. The software licensing pricing. 

When we did all the analysis for StarWind, it was approximately 20 percent less than any of the other solutions that we looked at. This wasn't our only criteria, as you don't want to buy the cheapest thing, then find out you have a problem. Also, StarWind isn't the cheapest solution out there, but it is certainly cost-effective relative to the major players. I haven't seen any difference in quality overall. StarWind works as well as any of the major players would have for us.

The scalability limitation for us is its licensing. At some point in the fairly near future, we will probably have to upgrade our license so we can store eight terabytes instead of four. We are currently at four terabytes, but we're starting to knock on the door of that capacity. Going forward, we will probably pay for a license upgrade, then we can add more capacity. We just haven't done it yet.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We looked at StarWind Virtual SAN vs VMware vSAN and StarWind Virtual SAN vs Microsoft Storage Spaces Direct.

With converged storage, we studied a lot of solutions and went into them all. We looked at Microsoft's solution for converged storage along with some of the other ones. StarWind had better pricing and deployment strategy. It also didn't have as many hardware requirements, which allowed us to spend some extra money on things that we really wanted, like 40GB network cards.

We read everything we could find when evaluating the solution. When you are doing something this critical with so many users who will be working on it all the time, you can't afford to tinker with it. We not only went and read all the reviews on StarWind, Microsoft Storage Spaces Direct, and VMware vSAN, but we put them in some trials and tested everything on our test network. StarWind was the one that we ultimately decided would fulfill our requirements. Happily, it has lived up to our expectations.

Of course, the support was a huge bonus. You don't know that until after you have put your money in, but once we had purchased it, we found out how good the support was all the way around.

What other advice do I have?

We have plans to increase the usage in the future. As we need data processing capability, we will add more nodes. As we need more storage, we will obviously upgrade the storage licenses. We will need more storage before we need more nodes because we are only using a fraction of our total processing power at this point, but we are slowly starting to fill up on disk space. The time frame for upgrading our disk space will probably be in six to eight months.

We run everything from accounting, databases, email VMs, SQL Servers, etc. on it, anything that someone would expect on an enterprise environment.

We are in the process of installing OS native management tools now. It should make things easier. The Admin Center looks like a good tool.

Follow their recommendations on hardware configurations. The faster you can put in the components, the better the experience will be.

I always recommend everybody do their own research. If you do your research, you will find out that cost-wise StarWind will be more competitive. In terms of form and function, from personal experience, their converged storage system works very well and is extremely reliable. What is most important to a lot of consumers is how good the support is behind the product. While you can research it, you never know until you spend your money. Experientially, their support is some of the best I've ever worked with, even though they are based outside of the US. You're not dealing with Indian accents. They speak very clear English, and there are not the communication issues that you have with non-Western countries.

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.
Christopher Vlach
Operations Manager at Lipman Insurance Administrators Inc.
Real User
Has excellent support in the rare case you need them

What is our primary use case?

StarWind is the highly redundant storage solution for our company-wide hardware agnostic Hyper-V environment.

How has it helped my organization?

StarWind VSAN allowed our small business to build a fault-tolerant storage architecture using SSDs and off-the-shelf chassis that is high-performing, high-functional, fault-tolerant, highly available, reliable, and easy to use. Best of all, we achieved all of this for a fraction of the cost of other solutions. For eight years now, StarWind has been extremely reliable and easy to use.

What is most valuable?

  • Very simple to use
  • Hardware agnostic
  • Extremely reliable
  • Feature rich
  • Cost-effective!
  • StarWind also has excellent support in the rare case you need them.

What needs improvement?

Encryption: I would love to see "at rest" data encryption as a new feature for organizations like mine looking for ways to simplify this mandated compliance issue.

For how long have I used the solution?

More than five years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

We have not had a single major issue in eight years of using StarWind. Every release upgrade has been seamless and required no downtime. It has saved us from multiple hardware failures with no downtime. A truly redundant, reliable solution!

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

Very easy to scale. I am not aware of any limitations.

How are customer service and technical support?

In eight years we have never needed support for an issue with the software. I have called a handful of times to have them confirm my understanding and review my configuration.  They have always been very helpful and thorough. A+.

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

No.

How was the initial setup?

Very simple to use. Most of the UI is self-explanatory but StarWind's website has easy-to-follow documentation and recommendations, and their support staff is one of the most thorough and patient I have had the honor to work with in this industry. A+.

What about the implementation team?

In-house with minimal StarWind support.

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

I have not seen any other storage solution that delivers the features that StarWind does for anywhere near the price. Licensing and support costs are very simple and straightforward.  

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

Dell EMC, Nimble, 3PAR.

What other advice do I have?

Make the switch to StarWind! Your life will be much easier, and you will have extra budget to spend elsewhere!

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
Mahmood
IT Manager at Allied Engineering
Real User
The unlimited capacity license is a very good feature

What is our primary use case?

We had decentralized storage, inefficient storage and computer utilization, non-utilization of VMware vSphere advanced features like HA, FT, vMotion which require shared storage like StarWind.

How has it helped my organization?

StarWind VSAN provided us an efficient performance with HA. We tried other solutions as well and found StarWind’s VSAN easy to install and manage. The unlimited capacity license is also a very good feature.

What is most valuable?

  • StarWind’s VSAN applications for VMware
  • Easy to install and manage
  • The unlimited capacity license is also a very good feature.

What needs improvement?

  • A detailed performance monitoring of the storage system.
  • A tool/wizard which analyzes the installed system and its configuration and gives a recommendation for improvement.

For how long have I used the solution?

One to three years.
Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
LZ
VMware Administrator, VMware vExpert at a financial services firm with 201-500 employees
User
I've used StarWind VSAN for replicating vSphere datastores and in Microsoft SQL and file systems clusters.

What is our primary use case?

  • I've used StarWind VSAN for replicating vSphere datastores and in Microsoft SQL and file systems clusters. 
  • I used one in mission-critical systems like a call center, SQL, SharePoint, etc.

How has it helped my organization?

My company data is essential to us, and we never lost data, so building the HA storage was our absolute priority. 

For the last six years, StarWind VSAN protected our transactions of more than 100 billions of dollars.

What is most valuable?

  • Stability
  • Performance
  • Security
  • Easy to solve problems
  • Vendor support always is ready to help :) 

What needs improvement?

  • Linux version for vSphere could incorporate deduplication. 
  • Also, the documentation for configuring alerts in vSphere is not simple.

For how long have I used the solution?

More than five years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

It's stable as a rock.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

Performance is very good but the bottleneck is the network. It is good to have 10gb links. 

How are customer service and technical support?

Very good. I've got standard support but the reaction time is always 1-2 hours. 

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

I used StarWind and VMware vSAN, but StarWind is 10x cheaper and gives us a solution independent from the hypervisor. This is more secure.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup is easy, but after buying, support can help you with the installation and optimization.

What about the implementation team?

I implemented through my team, but support helped me optimize the iSCSI paths.

What was our ROI?

StarWind has the best price.

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

The version for vSphere is very cheap, and anyone interested should buy a three-node version for the test environment.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

No.

What other advice do I have?

Thanks support for the quick help: I think you never sleep!

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
AL
CEO at Simplify Technology
User
Their support goes above and beyond with the integration of their software

Pros and Cons

  • "Their support goes above and beyond with the integration of their software."
  • "I would like additional documentation regarding possible networking configurations with 10GbE switching."

What is our primary use case?

StarWind VSAN eliminates the NAS/SAN as a single point of failure. It's an affordable synchronous HA storage solution which allows us to use extremely fast direct-attached SSD storage in an HA environment. 

How has it helped my organization?

  • We have deployed StarWind VSAN for several customers. 
  • Super affordable HA solution for SMB private cloud infrastructure. StarWind VSAN is our go-to solution.

What is most valuable?

Support is outstanding, responsive, and goes above and beyond. They were able to help with some existing AD issues that would typically be out of scope.

What needs improvement?

I would like additional documentation regarding possible networking configurations with 10GbE switching.

For how long have I used the solution?

One to three years.

How is customer service and technical support?

Their support goes above and beyond with the integration of their software.

What other advice do I have?

  • It is a fairly straightforward product. 
  • The support is great.
  • It just works. 
  • It meets all my criteria for success. 
Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
Jason Liu
IT Specialist` at Grand River Conservation Authority
User
The software is easy to setup and manage, and the support is excellent

Pros and Cons

  • "The software is easy to setup and manage, and the support is excellent."
  • "It should reclaim white spaces after big files are deleted."
  • "It would be great if it provided thin provisioned virtual disks."

What is our primary use case?

I use StarWind Virtual SAN software to change our old HPE Fibre Channel storage into an iSCSI solution for our development environment.

How has it helped my organization?

We have an old HPE Fibre Channel SAN that we wanted to reutilize for a development environment. However, we didn't want to spend too much on fiber infrastructure or replace the controller with iSCSI, since this would cost thousands of dollars. 

StarWind Virtual SAN software solves our problems. The software is easy to setup and manage, and the support is excellent.

What is most valuable?

I like the simple management interface:

  • It is easy to setup.
  • It has good support feature.                                                   

What needs improvement?

  • It would be great if it provided thin provisioned virtual disks.
  • It should reclaim white spaces after big files are deleted.

For how long have I used the solution?

Less than one year.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

I have not faced any issues with stability.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

Not applicable.

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

We are happy with the price. 

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
LeonKan
Virtual Cloud Admin at IST
User
Build cheap, reliable, replicated virtual machines clusters using simple servers with an all flash disk or SAS/SATA hybrid tiered by performance storage

Pros and Cons

  • "You can build cheap, reliable, replicated virtual machines clusters using simple servers with an all flash disk or SAS\SATA hybrid tiered by performance storage."
  • "Ability to to test the virtual storage are network area and storage speed from StarWind Management Console."

What is our primary use case?

Replicated, high availability storage for VMware vSphere cluster of VMware ESX 2-nodes in an HA cluster for Virtual SAN storage, only this software can do a 2-node cluster.

How has it helped my organization?

It provides cost-friendly replacements for VMware vSAN or the dedicated storage solution that I am using it for to build shared, replicated storage for my VMware vSphere.

What is most valuable?

You can build cheap, reliable, replicated virtual machines clusters using simple servers with an all flash disk or SAS/SATA hybrid tiered by performance storage.

What needs improvement?

  • I would like to replace Windows nodes to Linux. As of today, Linux nodes are ready for production. 
  • Ability to to test the virtual storage are network area and storage speed from StarWind Management Console.
  • Ability to check network card settings (such as MTU), VMware settings, and other settings needed for work under StarWind best practices. I would like to have something like a StarWind Best Practices Analyzer.

For how long have I used the solution?

One to three years.

How was the initial setup?

The setup is fast.

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

The setup cost is very low. The pricing is great.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We evaluated VMware vSAN and HPE StoreVirtual VSA.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
Dr. Byron K. Wallace D.M.
Adjunct Professor at Lone Star College
Real User
The best feature is its ease of installation and integration within a current infrastructure

What is our primary use case?

To give us the ability to install a cluster environment, increasing reliability for our plant infrastructure.

How has it helped my organization?

This product allowed gave us the ability to implement a cluster environment which allowed us to implement a stable infrastructure for our plants.

What is most valuable?

The best feature of the StarWind Virtual San product is its ease of installation and integration within a current infrastructure.

What needs improvement?

One area that could be improved is the reconnection of the attached drives upon a reboot. Rarely, the shared drive will not connect automatically.

For how long have I used the solution?

Still implementing.

What is our primary use case?

To give us the ability to install a cluster environment, increasing reliability for our plant infrastructure.

How has it helped my organization?

This product allowed gave us the ability to implement a cluster environment which allowed us to implement a stable infrastructure for our plants.

What is most valuable?

The best feature of the StarWind Virtual San product is its ease of installation and integration within a current infrastructure.

What needs improvement?

One area that could be improved is the reconnection of the attached drives upon a reboot. Rarely, the shared drive will not connect automatically.

For how long have I used the solution?

Still implementing.
Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
reviewer910362
User at a consumer goods company with 51-200 employees
User
Active-active HA provides top performance and redundancy

Pros and Cons

  • "Active-active HA provides top performance and redundancy."
  • "An update caused a syncing issue and it took over a month to resolve it"

What is our primary use case?

StarWind is used as the primary storage for three VMware hosts. It is running as a two node cluster for HA.

How has it helped my organization?

StarWind has provided an active-active HA storage system that keeps our systems running 24/7. We have the ability to keep everything up even when maintenance is required for updating the cluster or underlying OS/hardware issues.

What is most valuable?

My favorite feature, active-active HA, provides top performance and redundancy. Administration consists of patching/updating the product a few times a year but otherwise it simply works.

What needs improvement?

I haven't had a lot of interaction with support. My only complaint is that an update caused a syncing issue and it took over a month to resolve it. Every other time I have used support, it has been for a training/configuration question and was not time sensitive. They normally responded to those requests within 24 hours.

For how long have I used the solution?

Three to five years.

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

I switched from a Synology HA cluster after it had a split-brain situation and their tech support couldn't tell me why the issue occurred.

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

StarWind was the least expensive option I considered. Their maintenance cost is reasonable.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

I looked at a number of other options including EMC, NetApp, Dell, HPE, etc.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
reviewer903849
User
User
It provides a high degree of mobility, as the virtual SAN can be moved relatively painlessly between on-site devices and the cloud

Pros and Cons

  • "The product's core feature of virtualizing our storage is by far the most valuable."
  • "It also provides a high degree of mobility, as the virtual SAN can be moved relatively painlessly between on-site devices and the cloud."
  • "I would like to see an extensive set of cmdlets that could allow for easier automation as well as status management."

What is our primary use case?

Our primary use case of this solution is the deployment of a highly-available Microsoft Hyper-V environment. Using the StarWind Virtual SAN product allowed us to deploy a Hyper-V cluster that provides uninterrupted failover between nodes that would have otherwise not been possible. Additionally, we have implemented the same redundancy on our dedicated file storage systems.

How has it helped my organization?

The Virtual SAN product has greatly improved the organization's infrastructure by allowing us to create a scalable, highly-available, and cost-effective storage system. It has integrated flawlessly into our Microsoft Hyper-V environment, which, among other limitations, previously required manual intervention to move virtual machines. Our file storage systems also benefited tremendously from the seamless failover we were able to deploy with StarWind.

What is most valuable?

The product's core feature of virtualizing our storage is by far the most valuable. The abstraction allows us to use commodity hardware, and upgrade/modify it on demand without impacting SLAs. It also provides a high degree of mobility, as the virtual SAN can be moved relatively painlessly between on-site devices and the cloud.

What needs improvement?

It's been a while since I checked the associated PowerShell module, but I would like to see an extensive set of cmdlets that could allow for easier automation as well as status management. 

For how long have I used the solution?

Three to five years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

No, the only bug that was encountered over the course of several years was due to our negligence in updating the software in a timely manner. Support engineers were very knowledgeable and able to pinpoint the issue quickly.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

No, we can add additional nodes and hard drives at will without downtime. This is the beauty of virtualizing the storage.

How are customer service and technical support?

Technical support has been fantastic on the very few occasions we've had to call them. The engineers aren't just well versed in the product, but also in Microsoft systems as well as storage/networking architecture.

Response times have been fast, and the support engineers follow-up consistently to make sure the issue is resolved.

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

Yes, we were using a non-clustered Hyper-V setup. The two main problems with that deployment that caused us to switch were:

  • Single points of failure in both our virtualization and storage systems.
    The loss of one node in either system didn’t allow for seamless failover.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup was very straightforward and quick. The engineer used a remote session to quickly get the environment configured and provided insight into the architecture. 

What about the implementation team?

Implementation was handled by an in-house team with help from the StarWind engineer.

What was our ROI?

Our ROI has been very impressive, as the only recurring costs have been the support contracts. As hard drives become cheaper and cheaper, expanding the capacity of our systems has been trivial.

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

As a nonprofit with a limited budget, we are very satisfied with the licensing model provided by StarWind. The initial setup was quick and mostly effortless. Additionally, the support has been superb on the few occasions we've had to reach out to them.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We were unable to evaluate other options because the dedicated SAN systems that provided the same level of redundancy were out of our price range.

What other advice do I have?

The product is solid, simple to use, and well engineered. Very impressed and looking forward to future releases.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
TXITGUY9000
IT Manager at a construction company with 51-200 employees
User
It allows us to have an HA clustered environment with redundancy and scalability

Pros and Cons

  • "Ten gigabit Ethernet compatibility, support, ease of use, and management are some positive features."
  • "Updates seem to be non-existent."

What is our primary use case?

We use StarWind vSAN software storage solutions to run two hypervisors in an HA clustered environment. 

How has it helped my organization?

This is a cost effective solution that allows us to have an HA clustered environment with redundancy and scalability. Storage has been very stable, and without issues, failures, or  bugs.

What is most valuable?

Ten gigabit Ethernet compatibility, support, ease of use, and management. This solution can be used with hardware RAID. Additionally, there are many white papers and informational studies about how to utilize the software.

What needs improvement?

Updates seem to be non-existent. The software is stable, but I do not get any updates or emails about new releases.

For how long have I used the solution?

Less than one year.
Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
1981DMC
Sr. Sys Admin at Garland Power & Light
User
The StarWind tech support is extremely helpful, especially during the initial setup

Pros and Cons

  • "The StarWind tech support is extremely helpful, especially during the initial setup."
  • "It is difficult to control all of the hardware components."

What is our primary use case?

I've used StarWind Virtual SAN software in two different solutions for several years. Both were highly critical production environments requiring 100% uptime and fast performance. In both solutions, this platform satisfied those requirements.

How has it helped my organization?

The software is easy to configure. The more resources you throw at it, especially network throughput, the better it will perform. I'm using SSDs behind it and I am still very happy with the performance.

What is most valuable?

The StarWind tech support is extremely helpful, especially during the initial setup. They make sure to be part of the install and configuration so that your experience is positive and productive. 

What needs improvement?

It is difficult to control all of the hardware components. I went through a couple of different NICs before I found the one that would work with my hardware and server OS, and yield the necessary throughput for the StarWind portion.

For how long have I used the solution?

Three to five years.
Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
FAFCO
Director of Technology at FAFCO, INC.
User
The configuration is so much simpler than that of a traditional SAN with fewer points of failure to worry about

Pros and Cons

  • "Integration with Microsoft clustering has been perfect, allowing us to leverage our investment in MS server licensing to the fullest."
  • "Their support staff is comprised of true experts who can also communicate clearly."
  • "The configuration is so much simpler than that of a traditional SAN with fewer points of failure to worry about."
  • "Sometimes documentation on their site can be out of date."
  • "It would be great to have more automated tooling around managing the iSCSI connections in Windows"

What is our primary use case?

We use StarWind for storage on our Hyper-V cluster. We started with their free offering in a test environment and found the performance and stability so attractive that we built a three node cluster using Dell 720s and ten gigabit copper ethernet. It has now been running continuously for four years with essentially zero downtime. As it approaches end-of-life we will be migrating to their managed appliances.

How has it helped my organization?

We were originally in a legacy environment of stand-alone servers. StarWind has allowed us to virtualize our environment without the huge expense of a dedicated SAN (the typical choice in the past), putting cluster technology and its benefits within our reach. Server downtime was a constant threat to our operation before StarWind, but has never been a problem since.

What is most valuable?

Without question, the support. StarWind has been a valuable technology partner for us from the beginning. On the rare occasion when we have had a problem, or have simply needed to do an upgrade, they have provided first-rate support. Anyone who has dealt with common off-shore support understands the frustration in dealing with incompetent and difficult to communicate with support staff. This is not so with StarWind, as their support staff is comprised of true experts who can also communicate clearly. For highly technical products this is essential.  The best part about their tech support though, is that you probably won't need it much!

On the technical side, the performance has been excellent.  I have never found a reason to regret not going with a traditional SAN. The configuration is so much simpler, with fewer points of failure to worry about. Integration with Microsoft clustering has been perfect, allowing us to leverage our investment in MS server licensing to the fullest. Updates to server hardware are now painless and done during working hours with zero stress. We had a RAID failure a few months back, and nobody in the building even noticed and there was no after hours time used for repair. It's the best!

What needs improvement?

Very few aspects of this solution need improvement. Sometimes documentation on their site can be out of date, and it is always good to check with support to make sure that whatever you are looking at is current. The good news here is that this is very easy to accomplish. If we stay with the Virtual SAN instead of the managed appliances it would be great to have more automated tooling around managing the iSCSI connections in Windows, which can be a bit confusing at first.

For how long have I used the solution?

More than five years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

Zero. It runs like a rock.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

The current non-managed solution is limited to 3 nodes.

How are customer service and technical support?

Their customer service at every level, both in terms of our account and technical support is very good. Everything has always been timely and first-rate. I have learned many things about not just StarWind but also Microsoft clustering, iSCSI, and even Hyper-V from Starwind support staff. They are true geek pros!

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

Before StarWind we were still in a non-virtualized environment of standalone servers with disparate hardware.

How was the initial setup?

These are complex products to set up by nature. StarWind's excellent support makes it easy, but we were able to get our test setup running in just a few hours by reading documents and their forum.

What about the implementation team?

We implemented with our in-house team and StarWind support only. Their expertise not just with their own product but with Microsoft clustering and Hyper-V was amazing. We didn't need any other support to get the job done.

What was our ROI?

It has paid for itself many times over in reduced downtime and maintenance costs.

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

Make sure that you understand what all of the pieces do and don't make the assumption that you can drop support once setup is complete.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

Yes, we looked at Nutanix and several traditional dedicated SANs.

What other advice do I have?

Make sure that you understand your performance requirements clearly. Learn how to measure your performance needs in your existing environment BEFORE you shop, so that you can be sure that you are looking at the right solution. In all of the planning that goes into making the correct decision on these types of products, understanding performance (and not just making assumptions) is the most neglected part. There is no quicker way to over or under build your solution than to not have real performance numbers for planning.

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