StarWind Virtual SAN

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Value Proposition

StarWind Virtual SAN® is a software-defined storage solution similar in functionality to VMware Virtual SAN, and fulfills the same task. It creates a fault-tolerant and high-performance virtual shared storage from hard disks and flash internally mounted on servers, by basically “mirroring” them between multiple hosts. StarWind Virtual SAN® adopts the VMware VSA architecture by running inside a Windows VM hosted by VMware vSphere. According to years of experience of VMware VSA deployment, this approach is definitely “good enough” to cover typical SMB and Enterprise ROBO scenarios. This solution features outstanding performance and high availability without breaking the bank. In addition, StarWind Virtual SAN® has reduced requirements for hardware and networking equipment than the competitors do and offers a FREE version.

Storage resilience and efficiency in StarWind Virtual SAN® are achieved with the following features: Server-Side Cache that uses RAM as well as spindle and flash memory, VM-centric storage architecture, Fault Tolerance and High Availability, Scale-Up and Scale-Out, Hardware Agnostic policy that allows the use of almost any hardware, Asynchronous Replication – similar in functionality to VMware Site Recovery Manager, Automated Storage Tiering, Space Reduction Technologies: Deduplication and Compression, Virtual Tape Library (VTL).

StarWind Virtual SAN with VMware


Compared to similar products on the market (i.e. VMware VSA and Virtual SAN), StarWind Virtual SAN® has the following characteristic differences:

Absolutely minimalistic hardware footprint

StarWind Virtual SAN® needs just two physical hosts running VMware vSphere hypervisor and literally no other hardware. Typically, Ethernet switches aren’t required, because StarWind prefers direct cable connections for better performance, lower cost and simplicity. StarWind Virtual SAN® uses sophisticated algorithms to compensate for the requirement of the third node (i.e. node with VMware vCenter and VSA Manager, HP Majority Node Set and other “voting” and “witness” nodes for quorum configuration) to avoid split-brain issue with just two nodes. Flash is also not mandatory (like in case with VMware Virtual SAN) but still usable for cache, because StarWind uses RAM cache to adsorb the writes. CapEx is reduced because there’s much less hardware to deploy and OpEx – because there’s less maintenance labor.


StarWind Virtual SAN® uses Log-Structured File System (LSFS) and Space Reduction Technologies (Deduplication and Compression) to help flash last longer. VM workload typically creates tons of random writes, which burn “holes” in SSD. LSFS eliminates the issue by turning lots of small writes into one big page, initiating fewer (by order of magnitude!) erase cycles, making flash memory wear out much slower. Additionally StarWind Virtual SAN® uses in-line Space Reduction Technologies – Compression and Deduplication, which reduce the actual data flow though SSD to a minimum, prolonging flash life cycle even further.

Native to Windows

StarWind Virtual SAN® is a native Windows application, so any Windows administrator can use it immediately. There’s no Unix, Linux, FreeBSD or any other proprietary operating system used, so no specialized staff training is required. In addition, Microsoft offers updates and support of VM core components on a routine basis, meaning up-to-date security and resolving of any possible issues with Windows VMs typical run on vSphere.

These differentiation factors are making StarWind Virtual SAN® attractive for SMB and especially ROBO scenarios, which are usually low on hardware resources and are restricted to a modest budget. The savings for ROBO infrastructure are huge, even a single Ethernet switch (not to mention a whole server) that’s discarded from the solution would be multiplied by thousands and hundreds of thousands. StarWind Virtual SAN® is a perfect solution when the budget is small or even zero, because there’s the FREE version. You can download your FREE version here.

You can download your FREE version here.

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