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StarWind HyperConverged Appliance Valuable Features

RB
IT Manager at Bonitas Trust

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.

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Owner at Data Barn

I have burned a lot of time in the past configuring stuff like this myself, so the ability to pay a little bit of extra money to have something like this delivered, where all of the failovers are already configured, and all of the converged storage is already configured, and it's really just a blank slate to start building Hyper-V workloads on, is valuable. The fact that it's preconfigured and that there is a high level of support, so that I don't need to hire someone in order to do all this, has been my favorite feature.

Also, the hardware footprint is great. We've got two 2U servers which replaced four 2U servers. Granted, they were about three years old at that point, but we actually increased our processing capacity by about 50 percent while keeping our storage capacity about the same. We've actually been able to downgrade to a half rack from a full rack because we've gotten rid of some of our network equipment and some of our additional storage arrays. And the fact that that's all contained within 4Us of space is a complete 180 from the strategy we had before, which was four processing units and a few storage arrays. It's cut down on the amount of cabling we have to deal with by about 80 percent, so it's been a pretty big deal for the data center on the physical side of things.

The improved performance has scaled pretty well with the cost. I wouldn't say that the cost of performance is significantly lower. The main benefit is the cost of configuration and ongoing support. We're probably not saving a significant amount on hardware costs, but if I'm saving some 50 percent of my troubleshooting and hardware support time, we're probably saving, as a rough ballpark figure, $10,000 a year. If I were to hire even a part-time person to take care of just the hardware stuff that I'm now not having to take care of, it would be well over $10,000 a year to have a hardware architect available.

In addition, StarWind HCA has increased redundancy for us. Early on, just a couple of months into the tenancy, we had a pretty major hardware issue with one of the hosts, to the point where it was rebooting a few times a day. That was actually all Dell EMC's fault and had nothing to do with StarWind. Even with that host going up and down several times a day, there was only a little bit of inconvenience during the lag time when a live migration occurred from one server to the other, and we were up and running that entire time. We didn't incur any direct downtime over the course of a week-and-a-half where, literally, 50 percent of our processing units were going down three or four times a day. As frustrating as that experience was, it really helped strengthen my faith in StarWind solutions.

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RF
Systems Admin at a tech vendor with 201-500 employees

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.

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Learn what your peers think about StarWind HyperConverged Appliance. Get advice and tips from experienced pros sharing their opinions. Updated: November 2021.
554,873 professionals have used our research since 2012.
Network Manager at Riverston Schools

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.

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EJ
I.T. Manager at a real estate/law firm with 201-500 employees

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. 

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Senior Network Engineer at inSync Computer Solutions

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!

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IT Service Supervisor at VIP Technology Solutions Group

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.  

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JE
Server Administrator at John Wood Community College

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.

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IT Manager at Westmoreland Mining LLC

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. 

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DM
User with 51-200 employees

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.

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Global IS Admin at Benshaw, Inc.

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.

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DG
Director Of Information Technology at a outsourcing company with 11-50 employees

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.

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Sysadmin at Sun Peaks Resort

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.

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MM
Director Of Information Technology at Rocco's Collision Center

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.

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CS
IT Support Manager at Chippewa Valley Eye Clinic

In our experience with StarWind, the support has been by far the most valuable feature.

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Learn what your peers think about StarWind HyperConverged Appliance. Get advice and tips from experienced pros sharing their opinions. Updated: November 2021.
554,873 professionals have used our research since 2012.