Unified Storage (Multiprotocol)

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Published: February 2, 2017


The legend says people had only one language before building the Tower of Babel, but then God interfered and they suddenly stopped understanding each other. This is fantasy of course, though in any case now people speak different languages and need some translating intermediate to communicate freely. Software works in the same way, to some extent, “speaking different languages”, called protocols. Dozens of solutions have been developed to the point of “industry-standard”, dividing the market. Some vendors agreed on mutual compatibility, but most of them decided to keep some “exclusiveness” at the cost of user convenience. Thus, it is considered normal to have different incompatible products as part of IT infrastructure inside a single company, using some special addition to make them work together.


Every piece of software has a limited set of supported communication protocols. Even if an application supports multiple protocols, it “prefers” one of them to others in the list, typically having performance issues with using the least preferred. Getting a few different applications to work together may prove a real challenge. When it comes to virtualization, this happens a lot with storage and consumers.

Products from different vendors support incompatible protocols

They use different, often mutually incompatible uplink protocols. For example, Microsoft Hyper-V “prefers” SMB3, also working with iSCSI with certain issues and not working with NFS at all, while VMware vSphere works with NFS and iSCSI, but not SMB3, so finding a storage for both environments simultaneously can be tricky. Some software, like VMware Virtual SAN, has its own proprietary protocol, making it even more of a challenge to achieve compatibility. Specialized solutions that allow multiprotocol communication, such as additional “gateway” layers, require skills and money, also being a bottleneck in performance, because all the data has to go through them.


StarWind Virtual SAN exposes industry-standard uplink protocols. It uses SMB3 with all fuzzy dialect features, including RDMA-supporting SMB Direct and MPIO-utilizing SMB Multichannel. NFSv4.1and iSCSI (vVols on iSCSI, NVMe over Fabrics and iSER). Basically, it can stick any consumers, such as virtualization environments, together with the storage into a working setup. The typical usage scenarios are virtually unlimited: bare-metal, converged (“compute and storage separated”), hyperconverged, Clustered Shared Volumes for SOFS, vVols on top of iSCSI, SMB3 file server and many others. StarWind Virtual SAN can expose industry-standard protocols outside and feed the storage to any other deployment based on Hyper-V, vSphere, Xen, etc.

StarWind Virtual SAN support all industry-standard protocols

VSAN from StarWind eliminates any need for physical shared storage just by mirroring internal flash and storage resources between hypervisor servers. Furthermore, the solution can be run on the off-the-shelf hardware. Such design allows VSAN from StarWind to not only achieve high performance and efficient hardware utilization but also reduce operational and capital expenses.
Find out more about ➡ VSAN from StarWind


StarWind Virtual SAN becomes the universal “gateway” for all industry-standard uplink protocols: iSCSI, NFS, SMB3, etc. In a way, it works like polyglot who doesn’t need any third party to communicate with people in many different languages. It allows multiple virtualization environments to interact with storage and form a working setup, providing virtually unlimited deployment scenarios.