1
Introduction

Hardware Agnostic
and Commodity Hardware

Modern IT is all about virtualization. It’s not a question of virtualizing or not, it’s when and how to do it. Realizing your virtualization potential, having shared storage is “A MUST”. Shared storage is also necessary for achieving High Availability and Fault Tolerance on the hypervisor or VM level, fast live VM migration, to protect from unplanned downtime, etc. The classic approach to providing shared storage is using standalone SAN, NAS or even shared DAS.

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2
Problem

Problems of Using Proprietary Hardware

Proprietary SAN/NAS boxes cannot be commodity by design because they are still produced with much lower amount compared to ordinary servers. Going with non-commodity means accepting a few negative aspects:

  • High cost: Since proprietary hardware based storage systems are not mass-produced, the “economy of scale” never kicks in, so the price of the resulting solution goes through the roof. Moreover, quite often non-commodity boxes have expensive "magic hardware" (NVRAM, ASICs, custom IO processors, etc.), further unnecessarily increasing your expenses.

Going non-commodity typically means a longer generation life cycle. While new generations of proprietary hardware are developing 4-5 years, the commodity boxes are renewing every 1-2 years. Thus, for two years of deployment commodity servers will evolve: physical disks and RAM capacity, CPUs with more cores and higher frequency, high-speed multi-port NIC, etc. while the proprietary box will remain the same. As the result, the user gets less performance for a bigger cost when going non-commodity.

  • Hardware maintenance is an issue when talking about non-commodity. Getting a new replacement for baked IO controller from the vendor can take weeks or longer.
  • Another big thing is using off-the-shelf storage components like hard disks and flash memory. High-end storage systems do not accept common off-the-shelf hard drives or flash memory; they use only those rebadged by the vendor with modified hardware. Thus, there is no way to buy them from anybody but the storage vendor directly. Going with rebadged components is by order of magnitude more expensive compared to the ordinary ones. The vendor may just stop developing certain hardware, so when the time comes, there will be nothing to replace the old hardware with.
  • Non-commodity cannot be re-provisioned. EOLed storage systems can serve as a SAN or NAS only and nothing else since hardware that allows using it for other purposes won't exist after it reaches EOL.

Most vendors offer their own proprietary technologies

3
Solution

Hardware-Agnostic Virtual SAN Solution

StarWind runs on Windows OS which runs on top of the commodity servers thus eliminating typical proprietary hardware problems:

  • High cost is never an issue since commodity servers are mass-produced, which makes them cheaper than proprietary ones. Also, since commodity hardware hasn`t got any built-in “magic hardware,” the price is way lower and more reasonable.
  • Commodity hardware generation life cycle is shorter comparing to non-commodity, thus, decreasing TCO thanks to the economy of scale effect. Most common commodity hardware boxes have a 1-2 year life cycle allowing users to always be on the cutting edge of technologies and run their applications on the most performing and powerful hardware: maximum number of CPU with highest frequency, storage components with greatest capacity and biggest IOPS numbers, highest-bandwidth NICs with lowest latency, etc.
    Using commodity servers allows for fast and easy hardware maintenance by general availability of its components. All the hard disks, flash, RAM, CPU, NICs, etc. are ready-to-be-purchased in any PC shop or even eBay. Thus, the need to waste time on proprietary hardware shipping is fully eliminated making the operations fast and easy.
  • Re-badged storage component problems are eliminated. Using commodity servers assumes using usual hardware parts that come directly from the hard disk or flash vendor, not repackaged by the SAN/NAS vendor. Thus, the user gets what they paid for, not a penny more, and they can rest assured that the required component or its equivalent will always exist and will not be dropped down from the product line.
  • Commodity boxes allow for simple re-provisioning. Once the applications that run on the commodity server stop being required, new ones can be easily installed on the commodity box instead, thus, making the system more flexible and increasing the hardware utilization. Also, since StarWind software licenses are perpetual, it is possible to move between the servers, giving a second life to the old hardware or adding tasks to the new one.

StarWind runs on commercial off-the-shelf hardware

4
Conclusion

Build a High-Speed Environment Using Commodity Hardware with Solutions from StarWind

Using StarWind Virtual SAN on the commodity hardware, which significantly decreases the CapEx and OpEx of the entire system, provides the ability for fast and easy maintenance and re-provisioning while keeping the storage components on the cutting edge of technology.

5
What The World Says About Us

StarWind gets praise for its solution's high level of customization in the 2019 Magic Quadrant for HCI


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Success Stories

We were able to build 2-node storage clusters based on virtualization in 19 hypermarkets without any problems and with high cost-efficiency.

Vass Sandor, IT Infrastructure Leader

By being able to virtualize our environment with StarWind, we were able to retire some old hardware, get our services highly available, reduce power consumption and heat in our server closet.

David Gardner, Information Systems Manager

We are satisfied with StarWind. The support is really fantastic. Whenever any issue arises, the response is very prompt, and solution is immediate.

Srinivas Kouda, Company’s Representative

StarWind got us off the clustered environment, which was a big help. So, I could regain control of my storage and reclaim and redistribute the space we desperately needed.

Ryan Fulton, Company’s Representative

Price + Simplicity. StarWind VSAN offers great pricing and allows us to get work done without expensive custom hardware. It also makes getting back online quick and easy after an outage or hardware failure.

Aaron Hayes, IT Manager

We chose StarWind Mainly because of the cost compared to other vendors. Simplicity of setup was also a major factor and I like the fact that you don’t need a vendor certified engineer to perform the installation.

John Harris, Windows System Administrator,
Department of Physics, University of Oxford

Because of recommendations of older colleagues, with StarWind, we got a reliable storage with no additional hardware. There was a need to increase IT infrastructure performance and we saw StarWind as the most cost-effective solution.

Željko Medić, Director of IT Department

StarWind is the best storage product I have ever used! It satisfies and exceeds requirements.

Joe Gursky, Director of IT
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