StarWind Virtual SAN® Free Getting Started

Published: June 2015

This document is a guide to StarWind Virtual SAN® Free edition, which is entirely software-based, hypervisor-centric virtual machine storage; it is intended to highlight the specific implementation that StarWind Virtual SAN Free allows, its pros and cons.

StarWind Virtual SAN creates a fully fault-tolerant and high-performing storage pool that is built for the virtualization workload “from scratch”. It basically “mirrors” inexpensive internal storage between hosts. Virtual SAN completely eliminates any need for an expensive SAN or NAS or other physical shared storage. It seamlessly integrates into the hypervisor for unbeatable performance and exceptional simplicity of use.

StarWind comes with the different set of options and deployment scenarios. It enables implementation of:

  • Hyper-Converged architecture
  • Compute and Storage Separated architecture

Free version comes with basic set of features and is targeting just one deployment scenario - Compute and Storage Separated, while paid version can also do Hyper-Converged and various combined ones.

StarWind Virtual SAN Free takes two servers with some internal storage, brand new or decommissioned from another project and turns them into a “shared nothing” fault-tolerant SAN and NAS. HA iSCSI SAN protocol is kept for “internal housekeeping” and not available to external initiator servers. Highly available shared storage is available to the client servers through Continuously Available SMB 3.02 and Failover NFSv4.1. This dramatically simplifies the installation, support, and management of the storage solution. Performance is not throttled and still stands in line with Enterprise-grade storage arrays.

StarWind Virtual SAN Free takes a pair of new or decommissioned commodity servers and turns them into a DIY dual-controller “shared nothing” fault-tolerant SAN and NAS by “mirroring” their internal storage between them. Resulting solution exposes continuously available SMB 3.02 shares and failover NFS v4.1 mount points and targets such a use cases:

  • Shared storage for Microsoft Hyper-V VMs and SQL Server DBs (CA SMB3)
  • Shared storage for VMware vSphere & ESXi, Citrix XenServer and various Xen VMs (NFS)
  • Failover file server (common data, VDI profiles, backups and so on) (SMB3 & NFS)

While running StarWind in Compute and Storage architecture, it is possible to scale compute and storage resources independently, with different leverages regardless from each other. As a result, the system better fits the task while CapEx and OpEx go through the floor, since there is no need to purchase hardware that will be essentially wasted, so the system can be created specifically for a particular task.

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