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Speaker: Ivan Ischenko, Pre-Sales Engineer, StarWind

Turnkey Storage Appliance – Less work for you

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Taras Shved, Director of Sales Engineering, Starwind

Duration: 17:55

Published: June 23, 2016

Key points of the webinar:

  • General overview of StarWind HyperConverged Appliance
  • StarWind SA architecture and scaling options
  • Main features and benefits of StarWind high performance storage

As a system administrator, you have much more work than just babysitting your storage. StarWind takes care of the storage, so you can concentrate your attention on more pressing matters. StarWind Storage Appliance is a turnkey solution, complete with hardware, networking and software, already pre-configured and very much affordable. With SMB and ROBO in mind, we managed to unify best-of-breed components that come as a single solution with extended functionality and high performance at the price lower than DIY-kit. Moreover, StarWind SA is capable of handling essential services with its own compute resources, so it adds to the capacity and performance of your IT infrastructure at the same time. Watch the record to learn more about high performance storage.

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Webinar transcript
Today we will speak about our new product StarWind Storage Appliance, a turnkey hardware solution that is prebuilt and preconfigured, which means, indeed, much less work for you.

StarWind Storage Appliance

StarWind Software has been around for over 10 years already providing extremely efficient software-defined storage called StarWind Virtual SAN. More than a year ago we released a hardware product – HyperConverged Appliance. That was incredibly successful and brought us hundreds of satisfied customers and a lot of positive feedback.
Staying in close contact with our customers and analyzing their feedback along with market demands, we have realized that there are a lot of small business and branch offices that need more storage than our HyperConverged Appliance or any other hyperconverged product usually offers. Of course, the major parts of your production virtual machines remain fixed in terms of consuming storage, or they do grow, but very slowly. But we all know the fact that file servers, mail servers, database servers tend to grow exponentially and sometimes it even unpredictably results into additional complexity in planning a hyperconverged system in terms of storage.
There are some very nice SMB and ROBO products on the market out there, like an QNAP or Synology, and many IT guys install these as production storage. But, to be honest, their main purpose is the backup, which they do quite perfectly, but not a production. Lack of failover capabilities, no true SMB along with proprietary software inside these boxes makes them nearly suitable for production purposes. On the other side, there are a lot of storage vendors that create rackmount storage servers, but the pricing and positioning are far away from small business and ROBO needs, mostly having the striking world enterprising product or model name.
So, many of us, IT guys, spent their time building such kind of systems by themselves, for example, using commodity hardware and disks, and depending on time spent planning such systems were more or less stable, more or less fast and complicated in terms of support, of course. What we did is a high-end storage platform built with what we call best-of-breed commodity components that can serve as high-performance primary storage for server virtualization for VDI, database and essential Big Data scenarios, some kind of secondary backup tier, for example, with an optional gateway to Azure public cloud.

StarWind Storage Appliance: How it works

A traditional virtualization environment includes some servers that do the main virtualization job and serve as traditional compute nodes, or these might be some hyperconverged boxes that do not have enough locally attached storage inside, for example. Then, you usually have some primary NAS or SAN or whatever storage from another vendor that needs to be treated and supported separately, and the disaster recovery solution additionally that is provided by some another vendor and is completely separate from both previous parts resulting in extreme complexity in management and support. StarWind Storage Appliance seamlessly integrates not only in the existing StarWind HyperConverged Appliances-based infrastructure, but also in your existing virtualization system independent of vendor and hypervisor providing you with a simplified management of storage and disaster recovery.

StarWind Storage Appliance: Architecture

If your current virtualized environment is extremely flexible, and it is very complicated to plan a suitable hyperconverged configuration, our Storage Appliance is a perfect base to create a compute and storage separated architecture upgrading these layers on demand independently from each other, significantly saving your cost compared to hyperconverged scaling, which is kind of obvious. And, as it has already been mentioned, it is also a good option to boost your existing hyperconverged infrastructure with additional storage.

StarWind Storage Appliance: Components

The components footprint of the Storage Appliance is quite traditional for StarWind. We use Dell PowerEdge R730xd servers armed with 6 PCI-E slots that provide enough resources to process storage requests and run applications and data. Networking background is powered by the Mellanox. These robust pieces of hardware provide incredibly high performance, while still being very flexible platforms with low power consumption and using multi-host technology across multiple cores. Obviously, most of the exciting features of the appliances in sense of virtual shared storage are provided by well-known StarWind Virtual SAN inside, our software-based hypervisor-centric virtual machine storage that “mirrors” hard disk and flash drives between the servers building a classic converged architecture on a dedicated set of hosts along with providing cached iSCSI block-level connectivity, asynchronous replication, Virtual Tape Library and Tape Redirector features. Virtual machine backup and replication is provided by Veeam. It’s fast, flexible and provides a reliable recovery of virtualized applications and data as a single backup and replication solution.
A frequent question from our possible customers is regarding the pricing of our solution, since Dell is known not only because of exceptional quality and usability of their server hardware, but also because of somewhat higher pricing compared to other similar vendors and thus resulting in a higher price for our hardware solution. Therefore, they are usually pleasantly surprised after receiving the final quotation from our sales department. The reason is we are producing a large amount of Dell-based hardware products and we have an admirable discount from Dell for their hardware, nothing special. A lot of other players on the market actually do the same. What they do not, and what we are proud about is that we gladly share this discount with our customers, which means you will probably never be able to build such kind of systems from the components by yourself at the same price.

StarWind Storage Appliance Model line

StarWind Storage Appliance model line comprises of two general highly versatile models:
  • SA 130 is the smallest representative and is a fast and scalable single-controller storage box that is ideal for sequential workloads. It has two editions: SA 130D is designed for capacity demanding applications, while SA 130H adds flash for excellent-rated restores under heavy load;
  • SA 230 is a general-purpose dual-controller storage platform for the primary workload like virtualization, virtual desktop infrastructure, databases, that offer a high uptime and fault-tolerance and can also be flash-accelerated;

StarWind Storage Appliance model line: SA 130

SA 130, a single-controller storage server, may have up to 128 TB of storage. Of course, this amount is customizable depending on your needs. Storage Appliance is powered by Intel Xeon E5-2609 CPU family, has 12 GB of RAM that provides enough compute power not only for the storage itself and for the storage mechanisms, but also for zip-lines running on it and for the applications running on it. It has two 1 GbE ports and two 10 GbE ports for network connectivity, has some free SATA and SAS slots for further upgrades and may scale up to 16 hosts in the row.

StarWind Storage Appliance model line: SA 230

SA 230 is a highly-available and fault-tolerant dual-controller storage platform for most types of your primary workload. It is armed with double Intel Xeon E5-2620 CPUs and has 32 GB of RAM. This model utilizes 4×10 or 25 GbE network links for its private connectivity, like data synchronization and service traffic, and has another 4×1 GbE plus 4×10 GbE network links for client connectivity. This one can provide up to 40 TB of customizable storage for you.

StarWind Storage Appliance: Scaling options

Scaling options are also traditional to those of you who are familiar with our products. StarWind Storage Appliances can do both: scale up by adding individual disk and flash modules or JBODs and scale out by adding ready controller nodes. Since all our products are based on commodity hardware, this scaling can be done by the customer after a short consultation with our Technical Support Department in a couple of minutes.

StarWind Storage Appliance: Benefits

Storage Appliance comes completely pre-built and preconfigured, according to the customers’ needs. Even the final steps on integrating it into your current infrastructure, like domain join, some tunings and optimization, can be done by our professionals during a short joint remote session. Therefore, it literally requires little effort and no special skills from the IT team to attach StarWind Storage Appliance to any existing infrastructure.