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StarWind Virtual Storage Appliance Linux edition

Posted by Alex Bykovskyi on May 5, 2017
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Introduction

This article describes the new StarWind Virtual Storage Appliance, which was released on 26th of April. StarWind has always been a Windows native solution. However, due to market trends and the huge interest of our customers, we have decided to work in Linux direction. The main goal of the article is to show what StarWind VSA can do for clients and how you can work with it.

What is StarWind Virtual Storage Appliance

Let’s start with a quick description. StarWind Virtual Storage Appliance (VSA) is a Linux-based Virtual Machine with StarWind Virtual SAN installed and configured. The main thing is that you can install it on any industry-standard hypervisor (Hyper-V, ESXi, Xen, KVM), which gives you huge choice and flexibility. It can be easily injected into any infrastructure without a need to redeploy it.

StarWind VSA gives you almost all features that Virtual SAN has (LSFS, VTL, and Asynchronous replication are not included yet). Great news for VMware users: StarWind vSphere plugins are included with the Virtual Storage Appliance, so you can make your vCenter a single point of management for your StarWind VSA based VMware hyperconverged infrastructure.

System requirements

Of course, when we start working with a Software solution, it has system requirements. StarWind VSA is not an exception. The requirements are:

  • minimum 4Gb of RAM
  • 4 vCPU
  • 3 NICs (management, iSCSI traffic, Sync traffic)
  • 20Gb of disk space (note, you’ll need more storage afterward as this is only the system disk)

Note: It is recommended to use Fixed (Thick) virtual disks for StarWind VSA.

Management capabilities

These days management convenience has become very important for IT and Storage administrators since the number of tools and solutions they should monitor and rule are growing. StarWind Virtual Storage Appliance offers the following management capabilities:

  • GUI (direct management via Hypervisor console)
  • Web GUI (management via any HTML5 capable browser)
  • StarWind vCenter plugin (direct management within vCenter)

Virtual Storage Appliance deployment

The deployment process is straightforward and does not require a lot of steps to do. You should start by downloading the preconfigured archives from StarWind website: https://www.starwindsoftware.com/starwind-virtual-san-vsa

StarWind Virtual Appliance product page view

Click the download button on Virtual Storage Appliance web page and you will be redirected to the Download StarWind Virtual Storage Appliance form.

StarWind Virtual Appliance download page view

Fill in all the fields and click submit. You will receive an email with direct links to download Virtual Storage Appliance.

After you have downloaded the desired version of VSA you should proceed and deploy the VM. Step-by-step guides can be found here

Microsoft Hyper-V:

https://www.starwindsoftware.com/starwind-virtual-storage-appliance-installation-guide-with-hyper-v

VMware vSphere:
https://www.starwindsoftware.com/starwind-virtual-storage-appliance-installation-guide-with-vmware-vsphere

KVM:

https://www.starwindsoftware.com/starwind-virtual-storage-appliance-installation-guide-with-kvm

 

The detailed process is described in the guides above and I will only emphasize on some important steps that should be done.

StarWind management console view

Let’s log in to StarWind Virtual Storage Appliance VM. The default credentials are simple:

Username: starwind

Password: starwind

Note: Do not forget to change the default password. After the login press ALT+CTRL+SHIFT combination and you will see the popup sidebar:

StarWind management console VSA on Linux

Go to Settings and change your password.

StarWind Management Console settings change password

Now we can start working with StarWind VSA. After the successful login, you will see:

StarWind VSA General view

Now you will have a good question “what’s next?”. For basic StarWind setup, you should have at least 2 VSA VMs for a 2-node mirror across VMs. This process is the same for StarWind Windows-based version. More information about configuring StarWind devices and how to create a cluster can be found here.

With all the information, you can build a hyper-converged environment without a need to buy Windows licenses for StarWind Virtual SAN controller VMs. This will give you additional budget to get more storage or get more nodes for your environment.

Conclusion

StarWind Virtual Storage Appliance is a very simple and easy-to-deploy solution. It comes as a pre-configured, ready for deployment virtual machine for a hypervisor of choice. VSA eliminates a need to spend additional costs on Software Defined Storage or Windows license.

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Alex Bykovskyi
Alex Bykovskyi
Alex works as a Solutions Architect at StarWind. He has 5+ years of IT experience working with networking and storage, building highly available environments, Windows and Linux technologies, and a deep knowledge of storage virtualization.