StarWind Virtual SAN® Scale-Out Architecture

Published: September 2015

This document reveals StarWind's approach to Scale-Out architecture and the ways of its implementation and contains some basic details on StarWind Virtual SAN, a software defined storage solution with unlimited scale-out capabilities. Using it as an example, the technical paper provides a comprehensive insight into best practices of virtual shared storage deployment and scaling. Scale-out has been proven the way to go in virtualized environments, so learning the way to perform it right is the key to growing your deployment without any issues. The technical paper is aimed at experienced virtualization admins and StarWind users who want to implement scale-out architecture into their deployments.

One of the most trending scenarios is running StarWind as a storage foundation for a hyper-converged clustered virtualization platform, which completely eliminates the need in any type of dedicated shared storage hardware. Instead, the DAS of any cluster node is joined into a unified resource pool, which is shared to the entire cluster providing it with fast, reliable, and redundant shared storage.


1. It’s expensive since minimum of four physical servers and redundant networking equipment are required.
2. This architecture is comparably slow because all IO to the shared storage goes through iSCSI – Ethernet conversions.

Virtual SAN architecture's benefits over the “Compute-and-storage-separated” approach:
1. Smaller amount of servers, networking equipment, and corresponding OpEx for the whole infrastructure.
2. Better performance.
3. Cache is 100% local.

Hyper-converged scenario has only one theoretical drawback which is resiliency to number of nodes went down. The document demonstrates several topology designs aimed to work around this matter and achieve better performance.

Also, as Microsoft doesn’t have a real clustered FS like VMFS in VMWare, only one hypervisor cluster node from the whole cluster can be the owner of a particular LUN in a given moment. This dramatically decreases I/O throughput and whole cluster bandwidth and performance. The document contains overview of different topologies and their features in terms of compensating the performance drop.

StarWind Software offers customers both ways to go and freedom of choice. Customer can use virtual SAN with a hardware minimalistic and maximum performance approach. The only thing StarWind would be able to do is to cut down implementation cost making it possible to use cheap high capacity SATA disks with combined SAN / SoFS cluster nodes and no physical shared storage hardware.

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To download the software products, please, make your choice below. An installer link and a license key will be sent to the e-mail address you’ve specified. If you consider StarWind Virtual SAN but are uncertain of the version, please check the following document Free vs. Paid. The recent build of Release Notes. A totally unrestricted NFR (Not For Resale) version of StarWind Virtual SAN is available for certain use cases. Learn more details here.

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