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JE
Server Administrator at John Wood Community College
User
Great software and support, with an easy initial setup

Pros and Cons

  • "We also opted for 24-hour support monitoring for any issues. They are extremely quick to respond on issues we even cause ourselves such as bumping a network cable."
  • "The management console could use a facelift."

What is our primary use case?

We are using Starwind HCA for a Hyper V failover cluster at our community college. We use our virtual environment to run nearly all operations at our school. It has slowly grown while replacing old physical hardware with virtual machines. It runs all email, file shares, SQL databases, IT management, PR display devices, and network security software we use to protect our environment. It replaced more expensive and difficult to maintain hardware that was not able to perform all tasks Starwind is able to.

How has it helped my organization?

It was much more affordable to replace our aging virtual environment with Starwind HCA than traditional hardware. We needed to come up with a budget-friendly solution to replace our old hardware. The support costs were skyrocketing on the old hardware and the performance was severely lacking. Using Starwind allowed us to replace our existing hardware with much faster hosts - and we benefitted especially from the all-flash storage which gave us a significant performance bump compared to our old environment. Overall, it has been a great implementation. 

What is most valuable?

The hardware is nothing special, just Dell servers, but the real value is in the software and support. Support is knowledgeable and quick to respond to any issues we have. They helped us configure it from the beginning and were there for us through the few issues we had during the initial configuration.

We also opted for 24-hour support monitoring for any issues. They are extremely quick to respond on issues we even cause ourselves such as bumping a network cable.  They can identify the issue and guide us to fix it without downtime.

What needs improvement?

We would like more complete documentation to manage on your own without support - even though they are great to work with. Sometimes I like to have a better knowledge on my own in case an extreme situation happens that needs to be fixed immediately. 

The management console could use a facelift. It appears to do everything needed, but sometimes it is not clear what various options are or do which could be tied back to the documentation. A complete single pane of glass for monitoring would be helpful to self-solve issues without involving support and logs.

For how long have I used the solution?

I've been using the solution for two years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

The solution is very stable as long as you realize there can be possible split-brain issues with sync if multiple nodes lose power at the same time. This is where the nodes do not know which is the more up to date so they are not sure which way to sync. Support can help resolve the issues should they happen.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

Ours is a 3 node, but appears to scale much larger as needed.

How are customer service and support?

Technical support is quick to respond and proactive with our additional support.

How would you rate customer service and support?

Positive

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

 We used a traditional host and separate SAN for shared storage costs, which were too high to replace.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup is easy with Starwind support.

What about the implementation team?

The vendor team configured our environment without issue.

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

Pricing is all in one. It is nice to bundle everything together for budgeting purposes.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We also looked at Dell HCL, however, it was more expensive and complicated.

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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reviewer1442208
IT Manager at Westmoreland Mining LLC
Real User
Top 10
Low-cost, easy to manage and monitor, yet provides the necessary fault-tolerance and continuance of business processes

Pros and Cons

  • "The option to deploy a hyper-converged system without an expensive storage switch was a benefit."
  • "Product shipments did have a few bumps along the way, but that's to be expected when using any shipping company."

What is our primary use case?

Our remote office-branch office locations are using StarWind Virtual SAN.

I use the vSAN product and it provides the shared solution I need for my VMware hypervisors to be able to use HA and other redundancy solutions. It provides the necessary fault tolerance and continuance of business processes.

The HCAs across all sites house more than 200 VMs over multiple networks. StarWind allowed us to create a HA Clustered environment without an expensive SAN while providing hyper-converged capabilities.

The units fit us well.

How has it helped my organization?

The StarWind infrastructure provided a preconfigured package of software and hardware in a single system for simplified management. With StarWind converged infrastructure, the compute, storage, and networking components were easy to modify to fit our needs at all the locations.

It was a lower-cost solution that enabled us to replace our existing end-of-life infrastructure while taking advantage of new technologies like hyper-converged infrastructure.

This product also enabled us to standardize our server hardware. 

What is most valuable?

The support has been impressive. 

The option to deploy a hyper-converged system without an expensive storage switch was a benefit. This reduces the complexity of the system as a whole and drives down the cost.

StarWind hardware is also easy to manage and monitor, saving time for my engineers. The most valuable thing about StarWind is the all-in-one solutions that they provide. 

What needs improvement?

We did have some issues with shipping the product to one our sites. The company shipping the servers lost one of the nodes in transit. But StarWind was quick to order, configure, and ship out a new node so we could meet our install deadline. 

For how long have I used the solution?

We have been using the StarWind HyperConverged Appliance for more than a year.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

It is a stable product so far. 

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

It is easy to scale.

How are customer service and technical support?

Their support is top-notch. 

StarWind support is very proactive and easy to work with. Their support engineers know the product inside out and save us time in the long run if a system is down.

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

Previously, we used the traditional SAN and Host configuration. We needed to find a redundant storage solution.  

How was the initial setup?

Since its an all in one solution, setup was easy with their support. 

What about the implementation team?

We used the vendor team for the first deployment and they were helpful. We did the rest on our own. 

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

It's an all in one package, making it very easy. 

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We evaluated other options including VMware vSAN and HPE. 

What other advice do I have?


For improvements, there aren't many that stick out like a sore thumb. StarWind fits our remote office branch office needs across the company. The compute, storage, and networking flexibilities when buying the product helped us right-size the solution for every site.

Their support is proactive and professional.

Overall, StarWind provides a solid product and addresses our remote office branch office needs.


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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DM
User with 51-200 employees
Real User
Stable, improved our data redundancy, good performance, and helpful technical support

Pros and Cons

  • "We opted for 24-hour monitoring and support, which has already paid for itself."
  • "I think that the pre-installation questionnaire was a little confusing and ambiguous."

What is our primary use case?

We were able to consolidate four of our Hypervisors (with no redundancy) into two HCA servers with High Availability. We now have replication across both servers and fewer servers in the rack to power and we are all-flash now.

We also implemented the 10G ports on the StarWind Servers, beginning our step into a 10G backbone. This allowed our rack to become significantly less crowded with cable management.

Our HVAC is having to run less and I am sure there are some cost savings associated with that as well.  

How has it helped my organization?

It has brought us to another level in redundancy. We have two replicated copies of our data on-site in HA, which we then backup locally and then offload a copy to the cloud.

We also went with the all-flash solution, so our IOPS jumped exponentially.

In addition to that, we have started to implement a 10G backbone with the StarWind HCA being the first in it.

What is most valuable?

The most valuable feature they have is their support. We opted for 24-hour monitoring and support, which has already paid for itself. I had decided to move cables around and when they saw it, they and reached out to me to get it corrected.

On top of that, during our initial configuration and migration, they were able to work through any issues that may have come up, mostly due to the specific legacy equipment that we were trying to migrate to the new servers.

The command center is a nice piece of software that lets us view our entire setup.

What needs improvement?

They have a pre-install questionnaire and it asks about network addresses and such. I made the mistake of thinking they were asking about my current setup. They received that information and applied it to the new servers. When they arrived, I noticed it before we patched them in, which would have caused several IP conflicts.

I think that the pre-installation questionnaire was a little confusing and ambiguous. I could have asked for clarification but I just filled it out and sent it. It would be nice if they were just very clear on what they were asking for.

For how long have I used the solution?

We are new to StarWind HCA and have been using it for about four months.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

Stability-wise, we have had no issues as of yet, whatsoever.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

This solution is very scalable. We bought it with plenty of room for expansion as well, so we don't have to worry about outgrowing it anytime soon, but if we do, it is a simple no-downtime, procedure.

How are customer service and technical support?

Technical support is their best feature!

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup was both straightforward and complex, but their support handled everything.

What about the implementation team?

Implementation was through StarWind and was a great experience.

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

I was able to bring the price per year down by going out to a five-year plan. That works for our situation, it may be different for yours.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We evaluated Nutanix and Dell HCI.

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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Shawn Bender
Global IS Admin at Benshaw, Inc.
Real User
Top 5
Good performance, built-in storage saved us money, knowledgeable support

Pros and Cons

  • "The presence of built-in storage saved the company from having to purchase a separate storage array and related network equipment."
  • "I would request that the terms and conditions be reviewed and made more acceptable to corporate security so that we could finally turn on the proactive support feature, as it is included with our support agreement."

What is our primary use case?

The StarWind HCA solution provided our company with a turnkey hyper-converged platform that strengthened our processing and storage capabilities by greatly expanding our RAM, processors, and flash-based storage.

It also enabled us to take advantage of VMware vMotion technology. This allows us to transfer a virtual machine from one host to the other without interrupting production, which is critical in our manufacturing plant.

I haven't had to make any software related changes since the solution was implemented.

How has it helped my organization?

By having multiple servers, we are able to perform maintenance on one server while the other is still operating. The speed of the flash drives helped with performance, and the support that StarWind offers is very professional and accommodating.

We had to engage with support several times during the migration as we made licensing changes, and moved virtual servers from the old host to the new ones. The response time was quick and although there was a bit of an accent, I had no trouble understanding as the work was being completed.

What is most valuable?

The presence of built-in storage saved the company from having to purchase a separate storage array and related network equipment. When we looked at the costs for a storage array, they were somewhat higher than the solution from StarWind.

Knowing that the virtual machines will continue running in the event of one of the servers failing provides peace of mind. Also, having support readily available in the event of a problem helps as well.

We were impressed by all of the redundancy built into the solution to protect it from failures.

What needs improvement?

My only concern was with the terms and conditions of the proactive support. Our legal department didn't accept them, so we weren't able to take advantage of it. Having the heartbeat monitor working would save some time, by getting issues resolved by support as soon as, or possibly even prior to them happening.

I would request that the terms and conditions be reviewed and made more acceptable to corporate security so that we could finally turn on the proactive support feature, as it is included with our support agreement.

For how long have I used the solution?

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

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

There have been no issues with stability since the solution was implemented.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

It seemed that we would be able to increase the scale as needed.

How are customer service and technical support?

The support at StarWind was very knowledgeable and was able to resolve any issues on the current call.

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

Our previous solution was a single server and it was out of support.

How was the initial setup?

Its initial setup was complex, but that is why we had support from StarWind look after it.

What about the implementation team?

It was implemented mostly by StarWind in coordination with our in house team.

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

The setup cost was included in the support.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We considered solutions from Dell and Nutanix.

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
Director of Technology Services at Lees-McRae College
Real User
We can migrate VMs from node to node in a matter of seconds
Prior to implementing StarWind HCA, we had six stand-alone Hyper-V hosts. The setup was not ideal for many reasons. Because we didn’t have shared storage, we had to move virtual machines from host to host using Shared Nothing Live Migration over 1Gbps NICs. Not a pretty picture. The host servers had all reached end of life support. They were to a point where the spinning drives were failing way too frequently. With this stand-alone server architecture, we were relying solely on the RAID configuration as our only redundancy. I knew the direction we needed to go, but the budget never got us there. I had researched solutions for a long time before actually having the budget to move forward on the project. I had set up a virtual lab and familiarized myself with StarWind. Just about…

Prior to implementing StarWind HCA, we had six stand-alone Hyper-V hosts. The setup was not ideal for many reasons. Because we didn’t have shared storage, we had to move virtual machines from host to host using Shared Nothing Live Migration over 1Gbps NICs. Not a pretty picture. The host servers had all reached end of life support. They were to a point where the spinning drives were failing way too frequently. With this stand-alone server architecture, we were relying solely on the RAID configuration as our only redundancy. I knew the direction we needed to go, but the budget never got us there.

I had researched solutions for a long time before actually having the budget to move forward on the project. I had set up a virtual lab and familiarized myself with StarWind. Just about everything I had ever read about StarWind had been positive. When the college's budget finally afforded us the opportunity to upgrade virtual server infrastructure, StarWind was my first call. I knew I wanted to compare their product with other hyperconverged solutions, as well as traditional SAN and compute nodes solutions, and that's what we did.

Analysis showed that from a technical perspective, other solutions we looked at would have worked in our environment. However, StarWind HCA won us over in two areas: price and support. We were actually able to install an all-flash StarWind HCA for less than other vendors' spinning rust solutions! We were able to roll five years of warranty and support into the purchase price and still save thousands of dollars upfront.

So how does one gauge support prior to purchase? Somewhat, we were taking a leap of faith that support would be as good as I had read about. We did have a good pre-sales support experience in that StarWind takes the time to analyze Live Optics data to ensure customers get the right hardware to meet their particular needs. Going from six host servers to only two, I want to make sure we were getting enough hardware! Of course, it wasn't pre-sales support that I was purchasing. I can happily say that support after the sale is just as good. The team really went above and beyond when it came to helping us get the appliance stood up and production VMs moved off of our old hardware. We ran into some issues with going from Hyper-V 2012 R2 to Hyper-V 2019. It turned out the issues were purely Hyper-V related -- nothing to do with the StarWind software at all -- but tech support was there to help troubleshoot until everything was running smoothly.

With the appliance up and running, all of the pain points I mentioned at the start have been addressed. We can migrate VMs from node to node in a matter of seconds. No more Shared Nothing Live Migrations! No more server sprawl! We now have redundancy and the speed of all-flash drives. I've been very pleased with the outcome of this purchase and will recommend StarWind to anyone who seeks my input.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
DG
Director Of Information Technology at a outsourcing company with 11-50 employees
Real User
Top 20
We substantially reduced network complexity by eliminating the standalone SAN

Pros and Cons

  • "We also substantially reduced network complexity by eliminating that standalone SAN. That reduced complexity has allowed us to concentrate on improving other areas of our network."
  • "Possible new features could be CSV-level snapshot capability, Veeam integration, and maybe a more straightforward setup. Granted, you don't have to worry about setups with the HCA, but if you want to implement StarWind vSAN in a lab to test it is a tedious setup process."

What is our primary use case?

We are an SMB that hosts our ERP on-site. Our infrastructure is shared with a group of inter-related companies, so uptime is critical since several entities rely on our core services. StarWind HCA is the core of our network and hosts all of our critical VMs. We needed a cost-effective HA solution that was easy to manage, as we have a very small IT department that is concentrated mostly on business process improvements. The last thing we need is complex systems to manage taking our focus away from that.

How has it helped my organization?

We went from a vSphere compute cluster with an external SAN made by a company that is in perpetual financial trouble and have shifted business focus several times. Not only was our traditional SAN expensive, but we also had no confidence in the vendor. StarWind HCA is commodity hardware, so we eliminated the proprietary hardware issue. 

We also substantially reduced network complexity by eliminating that standalone SAN. That reduced complexity has allowed us to concentrate on improving other areas of our network.

What is most valuable?

Proactive support has been great, you will receive an email from StarWind soon after their telemetry service sees anything out of the ordinary with either the StarWind services or any critical issue related to your cluster of VMs. The appliance support goes beyond my expectations by helping with some Hyper-V issues that may not be directly related to the StarWind services.

The most valuable feature is its simplicity. It really isn't any more difficult to manage than a standard Hyper-V cluster.

What needs improvement?

Communication could have been improved during the implementation process. I've also been looking forward to further development of their management console which has been slow to materialize. StarWind is promising full cluster management and backup integration in a single-pain-of-glass console.

Possible new features could be CSV-level snapshot capability, Veeam integration, and maybe a more straightforward setup. Granted, you don't have to worry about setups with the HCA, but if you want to implement StarWind vSAN in a lab to test it is a tedious setup process.

For how long have I used the solution?

We've been running our StarWind HCA for about two years.

How are customer service and technical support?

Technical support has been willing to help and train even on simple questions.

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

We previously had a vSphere cluster with a standalone SAN. We wanted a less complex solution.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup is really easy. StarWind handles it.

What about the implementation team?

In-house with StarWind help.

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

The HCA price is all-inclusive (setup, hardware, support, warranty), except for your standard Microsoft Server licensing.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We evaluated Cisco and DataCore.

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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SpShawn
Sysadmin at Sun Peaks Resort
User
Top 20
Cost-effective, easy to use, and quick to deploy

Pros and Cons

  • "The sales process is easy."
  • "Most meetings are done via Zoom, and I'm sure you could switch to a text based conversation if needed as they seem like a very accommodating team. It's not something I would worry about if you are a potential client."

What is our primary use case?

We primarily use the solution to provide a safe and secure home for VMs. We are currently only using the computer power, but I like the ability to add GPUs to the device if it is ever needed. We run a bunch of SQL, web services, and remote app servers. The hardware has always been solid, and the 24-hour monitoring is a great safety net. VMs being able to live migrate near-instantly has made updating the hypervisors much easier. The hardware comes from known vendors, so replacement parts are plentiful if ever needed.

How has it helped my organization?

We upgraded from older servers, and the Starwind HCA is much faster and more reliable. All of the old VMs can do the same job they always did but with less waiting. With 24-hour monitoring, we can worry less about hardware and software failures. Every time the system has detected an issue Starwind has emailed us before anything went sideways. Migrating VMs is much easier now that the Starwind team has configured the HCA boxes. All this has been done without the need for a separate storage device.

What is most valuable?

The ease of use is great.

The solution is comprised of high-end hardware components.

The 24-hour monitoring is great.

The sales process is easy.

It is extremely reliable, has very very few issues, and has next to no downtime.

The deployment was very fast, and VMs were migrated without any downtime.

SSD Storage is very fast, and everything I want to do is very very speedy.

It is very configurable, with lots of different options.

What needs improvement?

I can't think of anything that is missing. Everything has been top-notch from start to finish. Every interaction we have had has been 100% positive. If you are hard of hearing some of their team has strong accents, but I have never had an issue understanding them, nor has any of my team that had a bad interaction with them. 

Most meetings are done via Zoom, and I'm sure you could switch to a text based conversation if needed as they seem like a very accommodating team. It's not something I would worry about if you are a potential client.

For how long have I used the solution?

I've been using the solution for about a year.

How are customer service and technical support?

Support exceeds expectations every time we work together. I have always been able to work with the same engineer, and he knows our network.

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

We used a SAN with storage spaces. We switched due to buying new hardware and Starwind offering a one-stop-shop.

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

The solution is cost-effective.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

Yes, we looked at HPE and Lenovo.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
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MM
Director Of Information Technology at Rocco's Collision Center
User
Cost-effective with an increased user experience and better uptime

Pros and Cons

  • "Being able to log on to the GUI to see specific data and usage statistics, executing clones, starting and stopping VMs, etc., is great."
  • "The only issues are when Hyper V itself has limitations and I'd love to see support or enhancement in the area of direct-attached GPU cards."

What is our primary use case?

We use the StarWind HCA primarily and in its entirety to serve as our primary hyper-converged infrastructure in order to serve all of our virtual servers. In this environment, we have an RDSH server farm utilizing GPU cards. We also utilize backup software that connects directly to this environment. Being able to have our entire environment run on a single platform by a single vendor both hardware and software is huge for us. We don't have the time or resources to go to many vendors or have them point to other vendors as issues.

How has it helped my organization?

This solution improved our environment from an increased user experience and administrative experience. We have had much better uptime and product speed since switching to the HCA platform by StarWind. Our organization has required less 3rd party resources and software to provide speed and flexibility to both our IT staff and our end users. The solution specifically allows us to focus more of our time on software development and process changes utilizing the hardware, as opposed to supporting the hardware itself.

What is most valuable?

The most valuable feature is the flexibility of Hypervisor and there is no vendor lock-in including the hardware the system runs on. I find it powerful and I am able to use the StarWind GUI or the Microsoft back-end Hyper-V. Everything works hand in hand and neither side forces me to do something in a specific way. Being able to log on to the GUI to see specific data and usage statistics, executing clones, starting and stopping VMs, etc., is great.  These all seem like minor things but have had major impact on our productivity.

What needs improvement?

I have not had any issues or roadblocks as of yet that require any improvement. Everything that I have needed has been available in the product. 

The only issues are when Hyper V itself has limitations and I'd love to see support or enhancement in the area of direct-attached GPU cards. It would be great to see even more detailed analytics and scheduling reports of such to keep a focus on when and if we need to upgrade the environment.  

It would also be cool to see support in the GUI for more 3rd party add-ons.

For how long have I used the solution?

I've used the solution for almost one year.

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

We used Scale Computing. We switched due to the fact that we were too restricted with Scale Computing.

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

We have found StarWind to be well over 50% more cost effective.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We also looked into Nutanix and Scale.

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