Please share with the community what you think needs improvement with StarWind Virtual SAN.
What are its weaknesses? What would you like to see changed in a future version?
The main thing I would like to see improved is the level of documentation. I had some initial difficulties understanding the solution which could have been solved via additional documentation aimed at newcomers to their solution. Although the solution does admittedly have many moving parts, I found that internal knowledge transfer to my peers was not that difficult. Hence I'm convinced that better documentation would have helped. I would also like to see a better system implemented for obtaining updates for solution components. The system at the moment works on a request/response model.
It would help if the manufacturer provided clearer and more detailed documentation, with explanations of how the application can be installed in various HA configurations. They should include advantages and disadvantages for each proposed configuration. Currently, you can only find information on this on the manufacturer's website, but it does not contain very detailed information regarding each proposed configuration. It might help to add the functionality to automatically send an email to a predefined address when errors occur in the application.
A great feature would be a wizard and to include a new disk in the SAN. At the moment, including a new disk requires several steps - some that must be done at the OS level and others in each node. We have no more recommendations for the product beyond that.
There is no Italian-language version of the software available. Although I'd prefer an Italian version, I received extensive and comprehensive support in all of the deployment steps. This included communication by email, call, and video. During a long power outage our UPS batteries was completely discharged, on power on Starwind vSAN wasn't able to choose which node was the correct node to sync from so we had to "mark as Syncronize" one of them. Then we wrote some powershell scripts to power off and power on the nodes in sequence before ups completely discharghe and then on power on. I'd like to manage these cases directly on GUI. Something like "in case vSAN isn't be able to mark as Syncronized a node, mark this node as sync"
This product would benefit from having automated alerting functionality.
I would like to see options for automated notifications of any changes, including, for example, synchronization issues.
I found that certain browsers are not fully compatible with the administration web access portal. I would like to see continued improvement with additional compatibility for other browsers to be able to work properly with the administrator web portal. I did find out, with the help of StarWind's support, that the Firefox browser seems to be the browser that works the best with their web portal. It also appears that vMotion is slower than my previous SAN solution, which was a traditional physical unit.
The StarWind Management Console is available only for Microsoft Windows/Windows Server, and should also be available for Linux and macOS, as it would reduce implementation costs.
Perhaps more reporting features on the utilization, usage, and performance of the configured high-availability images and underlying physical disks would be helpful.
Updating the software can be a bit tricky. You have to go down scripts to put it in maintenance mode, etc. It takes a while to update. From my experience, I think that's a thing that they need to improve on. Every time I put it in maintenance mode, all of the replications stop. If they could fix this, it would be a great product.
The console is something that I feel could be improved. There is nothing technically wrong with it, but it can be jazzed up and/or made to be a little more intuitive. Perhaps introduce a few right-click options, as that's my general go-to approach as opposed to searching for specific menu items. I also feel that when dealing with a magnitude of tapes perhaps better formatting or color-coding will help locate or identify tapes easier than scrolling through the list. Also if the lists' real estate on the screen could be increased that would be helpful as well. Other than that, I have no complaints or issues with the software.
If there was a way to automatically put disks in maintenance mode when shutting the host down and exit maintenance mode automatically, that would simplify things. I'm not sure how they would implement that, but I think it would be possible. Another feature they could add would be better integration with Windows networking and disk management tools. Maybe something as simple as shortcuts to those applications within the StarWind management console. Perhaps automatic recommendations when setting up hosts/disks would be helpful as well.
It would be nice to add the ability to use raw partitions instead of file containers. I think that using equal partitions would improve performance by eliminating the additional file system necessary to host the container
This is a tough question. One that I wouldn't have put in here for the simple fact that I decided to write a positive experience with Starwind. Now, if I want to be picky, I could simply say that the price is not cheap. I started with the basic package, for 4 TB. Than I had to purchase to go up to 8 TB. It does look now that I will have to pay the remaining fee to purchase unlimited data. Should I have done so first, maybe but things change very rapidly and what wasn't needed not too long ago is now. SO overhaul, price. I would also need to pay extra to be able to have support during the weekend, otherwise, you have support only from Monday to Friday. Can be inconvenient if your business work 24 hrs shift Sunday to Friday.
I think the setup could be streamlined a bit. I was already familiar with iSCSI and setting up shared storage, but the abstraction process of getting from configuring the raid array on the local host machine, and making sure all the correct values are set to get the best performance, was a bit finicky. Then, you had to prepare the appliances on each host and again make sure your VMDKs are properly formatted and then mounted correctly so they can be shared as iSCSI disks. It just felt like a lot of opportunities for a user to make big mistakes that would affect the end performance. I was very impressed with the tech who walked me through the whole process, as I'm just not sure I would have gotten there on my own.
Built-in Notification would really help and as I understand, their new release has this now. A mobile app to sync up for overview and status would really be helpful. Also, it would be helpful if the software had a few more guides and links/videos on how-to's. An "Update available" notification within the software would also be helpful and a guided wizard to do the upgrade properly would also be nice and efficient. A better visual of the SAN storage/actual storage and how it is used would be good, especially when it comes to where the files are located on the disk.
* Easy migration to ZFS system that is being presented on a new version of StarWind, migrations look complicated as this restructures the whole architecture on the raid level, but could be a good option just by having it and letting the user decide this new feature migration, as based on our experience with ZFS systems they work pretty fast and secure. * Android app for monitoring and receiving push notifications as alarms or monitoring I/O from any mobile device could be a good feature and nice to have as we are not always on our desk.
Management of VSAN itself could be improved. A Web UI for management would be great rather than an application installation. StarWind is testing a command center virtual appliance that I have installed in my environment. It is very much a step in the right direction to make StarWind Virtual SAN management easier and even Hyper-V as a whole. Something Hyper-V has lacked for years is a good Web UI to manage a host or cluster. StarWind has taken upon themselves to help with this as well as manage the Virtual SAN in a single pane of glass.
Management tools could be improved, sometimes the usage seems to be slowed down and confusing. A native web interface could also be an option. I love to see in the future port of the software on a general Linux distribution like RedHat or Ubuntu in order to avoid windows license costs. I would also like to see features like erasure coding implemented. On the VSAN software, I would like to see some improvements in the storage pools (eliminate the usage of the file as a data container and use the raw partition).
The product can be improved: * There is no good way to see how all networks are distributed on the console. Besides, once they are created and highlighted, everything seems to be going well. * If we stay with Virtual SAN instead of managed devices, it would be nice to have more automated tools to manage iSCSI connections in Windows, which can be a bit confusing at first. * We would like the documentation to be more complete. Most items are covered, but if you don't know something, you may need to contact their support.
When StarWind Virtual SAN for vSphere nodes go offline unexpectedly, the nodes have to re-sync disks fully which takes a long time. We had a power failure and when both nodes came online, VMware vSphere didn't see StarWind disks before I manually re-scanned them form ESXi administration console even though it should happen automatically - maybe I had to wait till all the StarWind disks were fully synchronized but that toked in our case 8+ hours. There are no security and bug fixes without an active support agreement!
A duplication feature inside of a CSV would be very useful. I'm sure there are a lot of duplicated blocks on a CSV that have 75 VMs of Windows Server. StarWind relies on the underlying OS to manage the "SAN files" whether that would be a RAID volume, software RAID (such as LVM), etc. It would be useful if StarWind could incorporate the actual physical drive management inside of the solution, similar to Storage Spaces Direct. A web interface for management and StarWind SNMP MIBs would also be very useful.
I would like to see all the network adapters in the console with their assigned roles as sync, Heartbeat, and iSCSI, then their link speeds and real-time loading. In the next release, they could make some graphs of the real-time loading, speed of storage, and interfaces. Of course, these can be viewed in other places. But, in the event of a malfunction or troubleshooting, this would be convenient.
If a node goes offline unexpectedly, a re-sync between the nodes takes place in order to ensure data integrity. This sync, though necessary, can take several hours.
New versions of this solution should be tested more thoroughly before the release, as we had a few problems with one version due to a bug.
If we could get more within its price, it would be useful to: * Be able to collect operational logs with external dedicated syslog or SNMP servers; * Be able to encrypt separate LUNs/iSCSI targets with a key stored on external KMS/KMIP servers; * Being able to run StarWind vSAN on top of any free UNIX operating system to build a resilient iSCSI/FTP/SMB storage system would be useful.
For the StarWind VSA vSphere solution, I would like to see a simpler and automated virtual machine installation process in terms of network settings. The areas where this solution should be improved are: * Use as a node server without RAID volumes to ensure a longer period of use of the equipment and faster recovery of the complex; * You need a separate server responsible for the main node, which is synchronized in case of failure of one of the nodes; * Use SSD caching to write to industrial operation; * Monitoring the status of server equipment. Programmatically bypasses the offline state of disks; * To circumvent the speed restrictions of the network data when using virtual adapters VMware Vsphere VXNET3.
If there was one feature I would like to see it would be a built-in subsystem for managing UPS backups shutdown procedures providing a way to initiate VM shutdown on all host servers, shut down the host servers, then put the fault-tolerant mirroring in standby, and finally shut down the StarWind SANs.
I would like to see some additional, and possibly clearer, implementation videos with some slower and possibly more detailed descriptions of what the various steps of implementation are for someone who is unfamiliar with high availability and failover clustering in Windows.
I wish there was online support because email return takes a long time and a faster solution should be found.
Performance when in storage-separate configuration needs to be improved. The virtualization layers and not having the storage on the same node as compute take a lot of the IOPS we could have on an HCI scenario, but we grew out of it.
This solution should be more self-sufficient, running without creating domains or failover clusters.
Maybe in the future, the replication will be supported in more cloud providers. I don't think there are features that this product doesn't have it. It has all of the things that a system engineer will want.
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.
Perhaps the developer should refine the product management through PowerShell. It is not entirely clear and there quite a bit of documentation.
The system performs as expected, but we're always looking for performance improvements regarding the best utilization of NVMe disks.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
It would be great if the Linux version of the management console offered the same features as Windows.
What do you like most about StarWind Virtual SAN?
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