Overall Satisfaction with StarWind Virtual SAN
We use StarWind VirtualSan as our primary production SAN for our entire school district. It runs all of our virtual servers. The only thing we don't use it for is video storage and backups. We have found that it has greatly reduced our costs when it comes to our virtual environment. We are able to use commodity hardware that we can get good prices on to achieve high-performance storage without paying for proprietary hardware/software.
- The nodes are Active/Active, allowing us to take any node down for maintenance at any time, without having to shut anything down, or even really announce that we are doing maintenance. Since all hosts see all nodes over all paths, we hardly ever experience any SAN downtime.
- Upgrades are painless. Run the latest installation file, it takes the node down (which doesn't affect any hosts), upgrades, and then brings everything back up without any interruptions .
- Stability. Once it is up and running, it requires almost no hand-holding. I have gone months without opening the console. I have it set to send me alarms, and I hardly ever get any - it just sits there and runs and I don't have to worry about it.
- vSphere integration would be a major improvement. The ability to manage storage from a single interface would be very useful.
- The UI can be somewhat cumbersome, especially if you are not familiar with it. Seems like it could be updated.
- Some kind of storage tiering and pooling over multiple physical devices, and also abstracting that away from the Hypervisor.
- It has saved us a lot of money. The cost to build the entire SAN (software and hardware) was less than just the cost of slightly upgrading our previous SAN.
- It has increased our productivity and user experience by giving us the speed we needed. We were able to put the kind of hardware underneath the software to make it work at the speed we needed, and are extremely happy with the performance.
- It has provided peace of mind about future expansion costs. We don't need to worry about upgrades being a major expense in the future.
Other SAN vendors offer specific features that StarWind doesn't, such as more 3rd party integration (like backup and snapshotting) and nicer management and alerting, but between the huge premium they charge for those features (their "special sauce"), as well as usually requiring the purchase of expensive proprietary hardware, their prices are usually multiples of what a StarWind implementation costs. After testing StarWind for a while, we came to the conclusion that for the price difference, we could live without a few of those extra features - the basic features offered in StarWind VirtualSan were good enough for us.
Any small to mid-size setting where you don't need hundreds of volumes could benefit from it, especially if cost is an issue. It doesn't provide some of the "secret sauce" functionality of other SAN solutions, but for basic storage needs, you can make it as fast as you want by providing whatever speed hardware you deem necessary. If you need to manage a large number of volumes (>100), the UI would start to get cumbersome, and the lack of any kind of storage pooling mechanism would start to become an issue.