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StarWind HyperConverged Appliance OverviewUNIXBusinessApplication

StarWind HyperConverged Appliance is #3 ranked solution in top Software Defined Storage (SDS) tools and #6 ranked solution in HCI Software. PeerSpot users give StarWind HyperConverged Appliance an average rating of 10 out of 10. StarWind HyperConverged Appliance is most commonly compared to Nutanix Acropolis AOS: StarWind HyperConverged Appliance vs Nutanix Acropolis AOS. The top industry researching this solution are professionals from a comms service provider, accounting for 34% of all views.
What is StarWind HyperConverged Appliance?

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

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

StarWind HyperConverged Appliance Buyer's Guide

Download the StarWind HyperConverged Appliance Buyer's Guide including reviews and more. Updated: January 2022

StarWind HyperConverged Appliance Customers

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StarWind HyperConverged Appliance Video

StarWind HyperConverged Appliance Pricing Advice

What users are saying about StarWind HyperConverged Appliance pricing:
  • "In terms of cost, a storage array is more expensive... For half the cost of Compellent, I got two hosts, more storage, and redundancy."
  • "There is a bit of a start-up cost. Having never used HCAs before, I was reluctant to buy it. I would suggest that you jump in and do it, as I wish I hadn't wasted so much time."
  • "We didn't have any issue with pricing or any of the sales process."
  • StarWind HyperConverged Appliance Reviews

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    IT Manager at Bonitas Trust
    Real User
    Top 10
    Because it's all built into one box, they could offer us the majority of the functionality we wanted, affordably
    Pros and Cons
    • "What makes it valuable is the high-availability. In the education field, when you've got students in classrooms, any loss of service disrupts the lessons to a point that the whole lesson is affected. For part of the business which isn't business-critical, to have a little bit of a hiccup wouldn't be such a big thing, but here, it's the high availability of service that is important."
    • "There is room for improvement in the setup and installation phase. We had massive problems connecting the StarWind appliances to our network infrastructure. That wasn't necessarily a StarWind problem. I don't know if their business partner in the UK wasn't used to having to deal with the supply of the cabling infrastructure, but that's where the problems started."

    What is our primary use case?

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

    How has it helped my organization?

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

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

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

    What is most valuable?

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

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

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

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

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

    For how long have I used the solution?

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

    What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

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

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

    How are customer service and technical support?

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

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

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

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

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

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

    How was the initial setup?

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

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

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

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

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

    What about the implementation team?

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

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

    What was our ROI?

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

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

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

    We paid it all upfront.

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

    Which other solutions did I evaluate?

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

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

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

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

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

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

    What other advice do I have?

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

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

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

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

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

    Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

    On-premises
    Disclosure: PeerSpot 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.
    Systems Admin at a tech vendor with 201-500 employees
    Real User
    Top 10
    Provides us with cost-effective redundancy and a significantly smaller footprint
    Pros and Cons
    • "The most valuable features of the solution are the redundancy and its cost. I used to have a SAN, a Dell EMC EqualLogic. Unfortunately, it was they call an "inverted pyramid of doom." It was two or three hosts, two switches, and one storage array at the very bottom. But the SAN, the storage array at the very bottom, is a single point of failure..."
    • "One area for improvement of the solution is that I had to get Windows, which I really didn't want because of the extra maintenance or overhead, as well as viruses, etc. It's going to take time for them to get their Linux to that point. They already have Linux but it's not as mature and they don't really support it on HCAs. They have it for individuals who want to use it on their servers, but not on HCAs."

    What is our primary use case?

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

    How has it helped my organization?

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

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

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

    What is most valuable?

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

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

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

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

    What needs improvement?

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

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

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

    For how long have I used the solution?

    We've been using it for a few months.

    What do I think about the stability of the solution?

    The solution has been stable so far..

    How are customer service and technical support?

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

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

    How was the initial setup?

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

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

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

    What about the implementation team?

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Which other solutions did I evaluate?

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

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

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

    What other advice do I have?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

    On-premises
    Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
    Learn what your peers think about StarWind HyperConverged Appliance. Get advice and tips from experienced pros sharing their opinions. Updated: January 2022.
    564,143 professionals have used our research since 2012.
    Matt_Thomas
    Network Manager at Riverston Schools
    Real User
    Top 5
    Provides around the clock support that is supportive, friendly, and dedicated
    Pros and Cons
    • "The support is the most valuable feature. The support has been amazing. It's around the clock. One of our hard disks accidentally ejected without me knowing or being onsite. They called and told me about it before I had a chance to see it myself."
    • "The only real flaw that I have seen so far is this hard drive that was accidentally ejected because when it was received and added back into the RAID. There was an error there. It was not added back into the RAID correctly, so I have an outstanding hard disk. Apparently, a guy just knocked it with his hand as he was in my office, so it was just a small eject. He said that he didn't crash into anything. That is the only thing that has reared its head."

    What is our primary use case?

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

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

    How has it helped my organization?

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

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

    What is most valuable?

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

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

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

    What needs improvement?

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

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

    For how long have I used the solution?

    We have been using it for about three months now.

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

    What do I think about the stability of the solution?

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

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

    What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

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

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

    How are customer service and technical support?

    They are great at monitoring.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    How was the initial setup?

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

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

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

    What about the implementation team?

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

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

    I am the only person using and maintaining the solution.

    What was our ROI?

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

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

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

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

    Which other solutions did I evaluate?

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

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

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

    What other advice do I have?

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

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

    Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

    On-premises
    Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
    I.T. Manager at a real estate/law firm with 201-500 employees
    Real User
    Top 20
    Flexible and easy to set up with excellent support
    Pros and Cons
    • "The initial setup seems to be very straightforward."
    • "We have to pay for support, which is high-end support. That can be expensive, at least for us."

    What is our primary use case?

    We primarily use the solution just for redundancy. It provides higher redundancy options so that if the server goes down, the other one picks everything up.

    How has it helped my organization?

    The high availability has really benefited the organization so far. You don't need two separate servers. If something were to go wrong with one of the servers, it automatically brings the other server up. It's sort of having a production and a spare, and then when production goes down, you bring up your spare if it takes a bit of time. However, this process is automated. Basically, one goes down, the other one comes up. You don't even know, except via the fact that you get alerts. The servers are on and they are on continuously. Nothing is ever down.

    What is most valuable?

    It's flexible. There are so many other solutions that have got very specific requirements, like vSAN from VMware and Microsoft S2D. Those tend to be very specific in terms of their requirements. This is more flexible. We had two separate servers that were not the same spec and the ordered solutions required that at least these specs should be very close. We didn't want to go out and buy new servers. And so, in that sense, it's flexible. It can run without those strict restrictions that other ones have.

    It didn't require some of the high-end components, especially with regards to the NIC cards and the storage. In other cases, they require SSDs or a mix of SSDs and hard drives. In this case, it doesn't. 

    Basically, it's fairly flexible, and it wasn't expensive compared to the others. If we had gone with another option, it would have taken a lot more money in terms of getting what we wanted.

    The support is excellent.

    The UI is very good. I know that you have the option of not going with the UI and then just use the PowerShell-based admin options. However, the UI just adds another level of simplicity to the whole thing. 

    The sales guys are good. They tell you what you need and they don't oversell their product or anything like that. They tell you this is there, this is there. They are easy to talk to. I've had relations with them for quite some time.

    The solution is very scalable.

    The stability of the product is very good.

    The initial setup seems to be very straightforward. 

    What needs improvement?

    We have to pay for support, which is high-end support. That can be expensive, at least for us. It may not be that much for others. 

    For how long have I used the solution?

    I've been using the solution for four or five years.

    What do I think about the stability of the solution?

    The solution is very stable. We've not had any issues with them. We've been using them for at least four years and we've not had any issues with them.

    What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

    It's very scalable. We are using it for two nodes, however, there's no reason for the product to not support three, four, or five nodes. You just have to scale in the number of VMs that you need and you just add more servers, really.

    We have about 100 users on the solution currently.

    We do not plan to increase usage. We do plan to move to the cloud. 

    How are customer service and support?

    Support is great. You can call them anytime if you have issues and they'll respond to you. They are easy to deal with. Sometimes they even let you know that "Hey, you need to do this and that." 

    Our servers are continuously monitored 24 hours/seven by them. That way we know when things are getting worse before they actually get worse and before we are no longer able to react. We basically are able to know things before they go down and we can fix them.

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

    We also use Microsoft as well.

    How was the initial setup?

    The initial setup is easy. It's not overly difficult. 

    You only need one person to maintain the solution once it's up and running. Our network admin handles everything. 

    What about the implementation team?

    We had our engineers work with Starwind to implement it. It was very easy to work with them.

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

    You can pay for support. If you decide to pay the extra amount for premium would depend on how critical your servers are and if the servers were to go down, how much you're going to lose compared to the cost of the service support.

    We don't have any licensing costs. The only thing, with a perpetual license, is that we do pay for the support.

    What other advice do I have?

    We're customers and end-users. 

    We tend to update the solution often. We try to use the latest version of the solution.

    In the future, we do plan to move to the cloud, and when that happens, we will no longer need this solution.

    It's a good product. It's reliable. The post-sales support services are great. This is a very flexible system, it works with basically any hardware. I'll definitely recommend it. What the others are doing is more expensive, and it can do everything with more flexibility and probably less cost.

    I'd rate the solution at a ten out of ten as it meets all of our requirements. 

    Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

    On-premises
    Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
    Flag as inappropriate
    reviewer1462674
    Senior Network Engineer at inSync Computer Solutions
    Real User
    Top 10
    Increased performance, proactive support, and the redundancy gives us a good sense of security
    Pros and Cons
    • "The full suite of redundancy gives a nice sense of security for the whole environment."
    • "I think some performance metrics would be nice to see, especially on the storage side."

    What is our primary use case?

    We used this solution to upgrade a bunch of old stand-alone servers to a cluster. There were at least eight different servers, some up to ten years old, running production loads on Hyper-V. Since everything worked, it was hard to get budget approval. Finally, we got someone to listen and we were able to get momentum on this project.

    We got the three-node cluster in, and moving everything over was easy with no downtime to the approximately 400 users. Now that everything is on a cluster, the redundancy helps IT sleep at night. We have had to do some maintenance and there has been no interruption. 

    How has it helped my organization?

    Our environment went from a hodge-podge of Hyper-V servers of various ages and capacities to a simple-to-manage three-node cluster. The three nodes are interconnected, so we didn't even have to invest in additional network infrastructure.

    There is redundancy, so if one node has an issue, the users have no idea and everything stays functional! There is a noted increase in speed both on the production loads as well as the backup (Veeam) being much easier to manage and running significantly faster.

    Power consumption is down, so there was less need for UPS capacity and cooling as well. 

    What is most valuable?

    The configuration we purchased was built on Hyper-V, so there was no additional training for staff. The rest of the management tools are on Windows, so anyone with a little bit of IT background should be able to figure it out.

    The full suite of redundancy gives a nice sense of security for the whole environment. Support has been stellar and we're notified of an issue before we even knew about it. We worked with support to get parts replaced and delivered the next business day and there was no downtime to the users!

    What needs improvement?

    I think some performance metrics would be nice to see, especially on the storage side. Since we have a decent amount of storage on our cluster, 80TB, knowing what our IOPS and typical usage is would be handy. There are times where something 'feels' slow so it would be nice what was happening on the storage side.

    I do wish that if we needed more compute capacity, that we could do it without needing to invest in a lot of network equipment. That is hardly StarWind's fault, but just something to think about. 

    For how long have I used the solution?

    We have been using the StarWind HyperConverged Appliance for between six and nine months.

    What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

    If we had smaller needs, the amount of expansion would have been more. We went fairly large since we only get money once in a blue moon. There is some additional storage scalability, although not a ton.

    We can add plenty of RAM. If we wanted more CPU then sure, those could be replaced! 

    How are customer service and technical support?

    We had one issue with a part failing, and we were informed by support before we even knew. The part and on-site engineer was dispatched. It was a redundant part, so there was no impact on anything. Nice to know they are all over it!

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

    Nothing in the HCA realm, just stand-alone Hyper-V machines. 

    How was the initial setup?

    The initial setup was very easy. Support ran through everything remotely and we were up in a few hours. It was nothing we probably could not have done ourselves, but it was nice to have an expert do it and have it up. 

    What about the implementation team?

    We implemented purely in-house.

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

    We didn't have any issue with pricing or any of the sales process. If anything, we were difficult with changing what we wanted to include on the HCA all the time. Sales rolled with us without any issue. 

    Which other solutions did I evaluate?

    We did look at moving hypervisors and HCA platforms but passed because the amount of change to management would have been a lot for the current staff.

    What other advice do I have?

    We are very happy and the number of incidents and stress has been greatly reduced. 

    Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

    On-premises
    Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
    reviewer1390521
    IT Service Supervisor at VIP Technology Solutions Group
    Real User
    Top 20
    Proactive support monitors the health of the cluster and hardware and reaches out if they see anything out of the norm
    Pros and Cons
    • "With StarWind's Proactive monitoring we can go about our day helping our customers and not have to worry about our cluster's health."
    • "Multi cluster support for their Command Console would be very beneficial. Currently, you can only work with a single cluster at a time. The console is new so I expect much growth in this area in the near future. The other area that could be improved is the tech support locale."

    What is our primary use case?

    We are an MSP that offers IT services to SMB companies in our area. We wanted to branch out and start offering hosting services in the form of offsite backup and server. To achieve this we needed a highly available cluster of servers. We started off designing a typical cluster/SAN setup but decided that we wanted the simplicity of hyper-converged architecture instead. In researching HCA we found that StarWind offered exactly that as well of proactive monitoring support for the cluster. Having an extra set of eyes on the health of the equipment was a huge selling point.

    How has it helped my organization?

    StarWind has given us the ability to have a failover cluster without the complications of a SAN network. We are able to offer extra services to our customers that we haven't been able to in the past. Small companies can be wary of the large cloud providers so having a StarWind HCA cluster we were able to give our customers the ability to grow into the cloud while also staying with a company they have worked with and known for years. With StarWind's proactive monitoring we can go about our day helping our customers and not have to worry about our cluster's health.

    What is most valuable?

    The most valuable feature is its Proactive support. They monitor the health of the cluster and hardware and reach out if they see anything out of the norm. They will then work with us through the entire resolution process whether it be a hardware issue or an issue with the StarWind vSAN services. If the issue turns out to be hardware related they will then work with the hardware manufacturer and get any replacement parts needed. Their techs are also very knowledgeable and have always been able to resolve any issues without any kind of long drawn out escalation process no matter the time of day.  

    What needs improvement?

    Multi cluster support for their Command Console would be very beneficial. Currently, you can only work with a single cluster at a time. The console is new so I expect much growth in this area in the near future. The other area that could be improved is the tech support locale.  Currently, all of their tech support is located in eastern Europe so if you have any issues understanding thick accents it may be a little frustrating. With that being said they have never got frustrated with me asking them to repeat themselves, they've always been very patient.

    For how long have I used the solution?

    We've been using it in full production for about seven months.

    What do I think about the stability of the solution?

    Stability has been good. We've had one issue with the StarWind service locking up causing full sync to be performed. During this sync, there wasn't any noticeable performance impact by our users.

    What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

    If you provide your own switches instead of doing their direct connect option you should be able to scale this solution very well. If you go direct connect you are limited to 3 nodes.  Adding additional storage should be easy if you have available hard drive bays.

    How are customer service and technical support?

    Tech support has been fantastic. Always willing to help no matter what time of day/night.  I've never had to have an issue escalated as the first contact tech has always been able to solve any issues/questions.

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

    This is my first venture into the HCA world.

    How was the initial setup?

    StarWind performed most of the initial setup for us. We racked the equipment and then they remoted in and configured everything. We did not have any existing VMs to migrate so it was a simple setup.

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

    Cost is very reasonable and shouldn't catch anyone off guard if you've looked at other HCA devices.

    Which other solutions did I evaluate?

    We also looked at Nutanix, HP Simplivity, VxRails, and Scale.

    Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

    On-premises
    Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
    ITCS user
    IT Manager at TrendHR
    Real User
    Top 20
    Great support and automated monitoring with excellent cost savings
    Pros and Cons
    • "The pricing and discounts given by Starwind on the hardware were unmatched."
    • "Shipping options should be explained in detail and offer more white glove delivery options even if it comes at an additional cost for some SMBs without docks."

    What is our primary use case?

    Our primary use case of the HCA is to provide a Highly Available, clustered virtualization environment to house all of our internally operational VMs. 

    We host all of our internal server infrastructure on the HCA utilizing Hyper-V as our virtualization platform. 

    The performance of an all SSD storage array allows us to easily and quickly expand our interal servers as needed without worries of performance degradation.  

    The largest benefit to our company was to finally be able to have a no single point of failure setup at a pricepoint that was below that of competing enteprise oriented solutions. 

    How has it helped my organization?

    The HCA appliance replaced aging hardware, formerly cluster-in-a-box solutions, at a savings of over $20,000.00 and provided increased performance and more redundancy. The pricing and discounts given by Starwind on the hardware were unmatched. 

    The HCA solution provides increased redundancy in that all storage is duplicated between multiple servers with multiple arrays of drives, rather than depending upon a single storage solution. It also allows us to utilize more cost-effective storage solutions rather than being handcuffed to dual port SSD with their higher price points when the performance far exceeds our needs. 

    What is most valuable?

    If you stay with a two or three-node solution, the HCA allows you to eliminate implementing a redundant storage network switch solution providing tons of savings on top of the affordable HCA offering. 

    Additionally, the server cluster manager web tool provided by Starwind provides fast information at a glance to give you a complete overview of all virtualization, compute, storage, memory, and network resources throughout your network in a single plane of glass. 

    The support and automated monitoring is a huge improvement over our previous vendor's offerings as well. It truly feels like we have a point of escalation on any issues and that provides a large amount of comfort to our small team. 

    What needs improvement?

    Shipping options should be explained in detail and offer more white glove delivery options even if it comes at an additional cost for some SMBs without docks. 

    Our only pain point has been dealing with the freight shipping initially not showing up when promised, then showing up unannounced, and then sending us some small fees afterward due to the fact that we made them wait (since we weren't expecting them). Starwind has taken care of all of the fees after the fact, however, and they were more than accomodating in resolving the situation. 

    We would like more visibility into the reporting that Starwind uses to monitor our solution for errors. We'd like to be able to receive the same data and notifications that their team receives.

    For how long have I used the solution?

    We have been using the HCA for almost one year.

    What do I think about the stability of the solution?

    So far, we have had zero downtime. 

    What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

    The product is moderately scaleable. It should fit any SMB and works even in larger organizations. The product allows quick additional of multiple nodes. At a certain point, eventually your storage replication might be better served by dedicated sans rather than the VSAN, or it might be beneficial to check out the newer Storage Spaces in DataCenter edition when it comes to storage scaling up. However, I think the VSAN included with the cluster will meet most small and medium sized deployments by just adding more nodes with additional storage when needed. 

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

    We used cluster-in-a-box from DataON. We switched as they were reaching the end of life and it did not provide an affordable solution to replace it.

    How was the initial setup?

    The solution offers an easy setup. Support was there to hold hands as needed every step of the way, with a dedicated contact point who took us through the entire process. She was great!

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

    We do not have any warnings to share. 

    Which other solutions did I evaluate?

    We looked at options from TrueNas, DataOn, Dell, and HPE. 

    Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

    On-premises
    Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
    Flag as inappropriate
    Brendan
    Technology Manager at Tryon International Equestrian Center
    User
    Top 20
    Easy to set up with excellent technical support and great high availability
    Pros and Cons
    • "The low cost of this solution has also made a big difference in our budget, which has been very helpful."
    • "If I had to pick something to add to the product, it would be nice if you could have more than one user account on their command center VM."

    What is our primary use case?

    We use the StarWind HCA as the main solution for hosting all of our core VMs. 

    We have about 20 Microsoft and Linux VMs that we are running on Hyper-V on the StarWind HCA. 

    Our HCA is made up of two Dell servers running the StarWind VSAN software. The VMs that we have are mainly made up of general-purpose servers with a few other custom-use servers thrown in. 

    We also use the HCA to host both of our domain controllers, although we don't have them in the cluster, they are still on the appliance. 

    How has it helped my organization?

    Having high availability has definitely improved the reliability of our infrastructure and made server maintenance much easier, which is a significant improvement for the organization. 

    The low cost of this solution has also made a big difference in our budget, which has been very helpful. 

    The reliability of the VSAN software has also been a big improvement in our infrastructure. 

    The quality of support from StarWind has probably been the biggest improvement though as we went from having a relatively low level of support with our previous solution to having a truly top-tier support team at our disposal.

    What is most valuable?

    High availability with only two nodes has really been enormously valuable to us. Our infrastructure is relatively small and we really didn't need more than two nodes, however, for many reasons, we really needed to have high availability. Being able to accomplish that without extra hardware was huge. 

    The ability to use whatever hypervisor that we wanted has also been very valuable to us. We were able to switch over to Hyper-V from VMWare and save on the licensing costs that we previously had with VMWare.

    What needs improvement?

    I really don't say this very much, however, I actually don't have many issues with this product. However, if I had to think of something, some people might not like the fact that a lot of the engineers tend to have relatively thick eastern European accents, and that might be an issue for some folks. 

    If I had to pick something to add to the product, it would be nice if you could have more than one user account on their command center VM. It's not really a big deal, however, that would be a good addition.

    For how long have I used the solution?

    I've used the solution for about six months.

    What do I think about the stability of the solution?

    It is extremely stable. I haven't had any issues at all. It's one of my favorite things about this solution.

    What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

    It is extremely scalable.

    How are customer service and support?

    Their customer service and support are top-notch. 

    How would you rate customer service and support?

    Positive

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

    Our previous solution was very old and not really a good comparison. 

    We switched due to the fact that the hardware needed to be refreshed and we needed high availability.

    How was the initial setup?

    The initial setup was extremely easy and their support team was assisting through the whole process.

    What about the implementation team?

    It was implemented through their support team and their level of expertise was extremely high.

    What was our ROI?

    We've seen an ROI of 100% to 150%

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

    The setup cost and support contract was significantly cheaper with StarWind than with any of the other options that I evaluated.

    Which other solutions did I evaluate?

    We considered just buying new server hardware and staying with VMware. We also evaluated Scale and Nutanix.

    What other advice do I have?

    I really can't recommend them enough. 

    Their VSAN software is excellent. The ability to get a highly available setup with just two nodes is fantastic. Their support is top-notch, and from a cost perspective, they blew everybody else out of the water. Give them a call; you won't be sorry!

    Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

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