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Why did you buy StarWind and not its competitor?

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Why did you buy StarWind and not its competitor?

Postby anton (staff) » Mon Mar 05, 2012 9:39 pm

Ladies and gentlemen,

we'd like you to share with us - why did you buy StarWind and not its competitor(s)? What did you like about us so much you did not bring your $$$ to EMC or NetApp shop or whatever. No water, just pure facts :)

Thank you very much!

Anton

P.S. We absolutelu love you!
Regards,
Anton Kolomyeytsev

Chief Technology Officer & Chief Architect, StarWind Software

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Re: Why did you buy StarWind and not its competitor?

Postby lohelle » Wed Mar 07, 2012 10:43 am

I used Open-E a few years ago. It worked "ok" most of the time, but performance was not perfect. But the biggest problem was that it was a "closed product" where troubleshooting was difficult.
I tried Starwind a few years ago, and it worked great. But we still went for a "hardware solution" from Infortrend.

I wanted HA/replication a while ago, and the active-active SAN solution from Starwind made it possible to do in a fraction of the cost of most other solutions, with more features than most other producs provide.

The possibility to use "off the shelf" hardware (mostly Supermicro) with "off the shelf" harddrives is very nice. We currently have two nodes, one with SSD (single drives as luns) and one with a large SAS-array. This gives ut SSD performance with full failover to the secondary SAN.

Using such software on top of Windows is not ALWAYS the best solution, but it makes it MUCH easier to troubleshoot and find stable drivers.
Now we just need ZFS for Windows. :)
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Re: Why did you buy StarWind and not its competitor?

Postby anton (staff) » Wed Mar 07, 2012 3:35 pm

I see...

ALUA for you is coming :)

I don't think you need ZFS for Windows as StarWind with NTFS on top of it using 4KB blocks is faster, does better saving and does not eat all memory (compared to Nexenta and OpenIndiana).

lohelle wrote:I used Open-E a few years ago. It worked "ok" most of the time, but performance was not perfect. But the biggest problem was that it was a "closed product" where troubleshooting was difficult.
I tried Starwind a few years ago, and it worked great. But we still went for a "hardware solution" from Infortrend.

I wanted HA/replication a while ago, and the active-active SAN solution from Starwind made it possible to do in a fraction of the cost of most other solutions, with more features than most other producs provide.

The possibility to use "off the shelf" hardware (mostly Supermicro) with "off the shelf" harddrives is very nice. We currently have two nodes, one with SSD (single drives as luns) and one with a large SAS-array. This gives ut SSD performance with full failover to the secondary SAN.

Using such software on top of Windows is not ALWAYS the best solution, but it makes it MUCH easier to troubleshoot and find stable drivers.
Now we just need ZFS for Windows. :)
Regards,
Anton Kolomyeytsev

Chief Technology Officer & Chief Architect, StarWind Software

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Re: Why did you buy StarWind and not its competitor?

Postby lohelle » Wed Mar 07, 2012 8:51 pm

Good! ALUA would be GREAT. When will this be available? Version 6 ?
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Re: Why did you buy StarWind and not its competitor?

Postby anton (staff) » Wed Mar 07, 2012 9:35 pm

No ETA yet but we're working on it. Probably some post V6 version.

lohelle wrote:Good! ALUA would be GREAT. When will this be available? Version 6 ?
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Re: Why did you buy StarWind and not its competitor?

Postby Aitor_Ibarra » Thu Mar 15, 2012 9:15 pm

Why I bought is an interesting question, but why I am glad I bought is even more interesting!

Why I bought (this is back in 4.1 / 4.2 days)
  • I needed a SAN to do Hyper-V clustering
  • As of Windows 2008, Windows clustering requires persistent reservation. Starwind was one of the few software SANs that had implemented this - even some hardware SANs didn't have it
  • Starwind is a software based SAN, so I could make my own choice of hardware, which meant I could have 10GbE (no hardware SAN had that at the time) and choose my own RAID and drives (no big name SAN vendor drive tax)
  • Unlike many competitors (software and hardware), Starwind had THIS FORUM. I could see that Anton and the developers were active on it and there was an active community. This gave me confidence in the people behind Starwind and that it had a future
  • During eval, I found a bug in the RAM disk and reported it. Bohdan came back with a fixed build in a matter of days. That's pretty good support even though I'm not even a customer yet.
  • Most important: Starwind had the features I needed at a price I could afford
  • The one big weakness in the product at the time of buying (lack of HA) was being worked on
  • It had a mysterious name which I have no idea where it comes from. Obscure SciFi reference? Linked to the http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stanford_torus centrifugal space station that the Ukranian Prime Minister claims that a ex-missile factory in Dnipropetrovsk is making parts for? ( http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news ... st-or-west ) (seriously - what drugs is this guy taking?!)

V5 was released before it was ready, and that was bad, but it did mean that I invested a lot of time and effort in testing and working with Starwind to get things fixed - with 5.5 being a killer release for me that did HA properly. Going through that experience was overall very positive, as not only are the Starwind people great to work with, but you can really see the product getting better and better, and feel that you've made a contribution to it.

So why am I glad I bought?
  • Starwind just rocks. Performance is great, reliability is great, and the features are improving. I've got great hopes for deduplication; Starwind's approach looks like the best one out there
  • Being a software SAN just has so many benefits. Not only can I easily take advantage of every advance in hardware, I can use every Windows tool at my disposal to monitor and enhance performance -it's not a closed black box. I can run it as a VM and fine tune its performance. I can beta test new versions on my production hardware alongside my production installation. And I just see it getting better and better. Loads of RAM for cache? Faster CPUs? Better RAID cards? SSD? 100GbE? Starwind can use them all.
  • Starwind continues to listen to their customers, and constantly work on developing the product to meet their needs
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Re: Why did you buy StarWind and not its competitor?

Postby anton (staff) » Sat Mar 17, 2012 4:07 pm

Awesome! Thank you very much for your feedback. Detailed and brilliant! As always :)
Regards,
Anton Kolomyeytsev

Chief Technology Officer & Chief Architect, StarWind Software

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Re: Why did you buy StarWind and not its competitor?

Postby ralphw » Mon Mar 26, 2012 7:47 pm

There was a few factors in our decision to go with your product for us and our clients.

Performance was a big factor. This wasn't the only thing but the whitepaper you guys had with MS talking about the 1 million IOPS really dazzled my supervisors. :D

Of course price came in to play. We deal with alot of SMBs and your pricing was important and fit for us. We also liked the option to upgrade to a higher license without throwing out the initial investment.

The ease of use was factored in as well. The interface is simple and nice.

3rd party reviews were favorable for your product.

My biggest reason for pushing for Starwind was your support. We had done some messing around with your product in the beginning and your support team was awesome in guiding us through and helping to get the best performance. Plus your forum participation is phenomenal in my opinion. Just overall great customer service.

Keep up the good work.
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Re: Why did you buy StarWind and not its competitor?

Postby Anatoly (staff) » Wed Mar 28, 2012 9:17 am

Dear ralphw,

I cannot to dissagree with you, especially when talking about support and services - we are trying to do our best for the people! :D

Thank you very much for your feedback - it is really important to us.
Best regards,
Anatoly Vilchinsky
Global Engineering and Support Manager
www.starwind.com
[email protected]
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Re: Why did you buy StarWind and not its competitor?

Postby jimbul » Tue Jun 05, 2012 4:43 am

For us, in terms of purchasing reasoning:

-Your product combined with commodity hardware we know and are able to support, was the cheapest way by far for us to get an active/active san for 2008 R2 clustering.
-Your licensing model is generous, allowing us to cover two data centers on opposite sides of the globe with a single 16tb enterprise license.

In terms of continued happiness:

-Forum support is patient, informative and rapid
-Online support is, again, patient, informative and rapid and provided by people who are clearly passionate about the product.
-For labs and DR - we run the same san for testing as production, we can spin up a san very quickly with starwind free for urgent requirements or DR on older hardware. We can test san upgrades, in HA, within a single instance of vmware workstation running on an ssd - not that quick, but possible. Try doing that with a hardware san.
-Performance improvements a revelation with 5.8, especially with multiple sync channels
-I am happy paying for maintenance where i get a constant stream of improvements and new features as opposed to continued phone support and the odd bug-fix.

Long may it continue.

Many thanks!

Jim.
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Re: Why did you buy StarWind and not its competitor?

Postby Anatoly (staff) » Tue Jun 05, 2012 3:49 pm

Thank you very much for your feedback!
We will do our best to keep this tradition and position.

Actually your feedbacks like this is one of our stimulus to evolve our product and services more and more, so we always really appreciate them really much!

Thank you
Best regards,
Anatoly Vilchinsky
Global Engineering and Support Manager
www.starwind.com
[email protected]
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Re: Why did you buy StarWind and not its competitor?

Postby robnicholson » Thu Sep 06, 2012 1:51 pm

For us it was the blend of features, performance and cost with the later been the clincher esp. when you gave us two licenses for one. The personal thing I love about it is the "no-limits" capacity. If we temporarily need 12TB of storage, we can connect a SATA-3 array easily and for little money.

Overall, reliability & performance have to be up there with the hardware solutions. The downside of being able to use your own hardware was that you have to be careful what you buy. We bought a real dodo of an HP SmartArray controller which caused all sorts of problems in the early days (StarWind crashing due to the controller going bad) but since we replaced that with an LSI Logic card, it's been rock solid.

We do occasionally get slow downs compared to before but that's kind of expected with any SAN solution. You just can't expect to take six servers all with high speed local SAS storage and switch them to shared storage and expect the same performance as before. But aside from these very occasional slow downs, performance is perfectly fine. Not helped by me setting the cache size to the default on our main file server when we've got 16GB of RAM in there.

Ohh, and don't bother with a really high power CPU configuration. We bought a dual AMD six-core system (so 12 cores in total) and 11 of them are just sat there parked most of the time.

But unfortunately, we're looking at replacing StarWind with Equalogic for our primary because "nobody got fired for buying Equalogic" and our parent company is unfamilar with software SAN and thefore wary. But we're keeping it for our secondary SAN as it's just so good.

Cheers, Rob.
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Re: Why did you buy StarWind and not its competitor?

Postby anton (staff) » Tue Sep 11, 2012 7:03 am

1) What do you think about licensing policy when you'll be charged for data capacity only? So number of nodes actually handling data would be up to you?

2) That's true, lack of HCL and pre-installed and checked hardware are both pros and cons: people can build "screamer boxes" and break everyting into parts pretty easy.
Do you think there's some way to go? Using OEMs / selling to integrators only? Automatic verification tool? Anything else? :)

3) Well, I've heard it about IBM actually :) EQL is nice but has own issues (unusable snapshots for example).

robnicholson wrote:For us it was the blend of features, performance and cost with the later been the clincher esp. when you gave us two licenses for one. The personal thing I love about it is the "no-limits" capacity. If we temporarily need 12TB of storage, we can connect a SATA-3 array easily and for little money.

Overall, reliability & performance have to be up there with the hardware solutions. The downside of being able to use your own hardware was that you have to be careful what you buy. We bought a real dodo of an HP SmartArray controller which caused all sorts of problems in the early days (StarWind crashing due to the controller going bad) but since we replaced that with an LSI Logic card, it's been rock solid.

We do occasionally get slow downs compared to before but that's kind of expected with any SAN solution. You just can't expect to take six servers all with high speed local SAS storage and switch them to shared storage and expect the same performance as before. But aside from these very occasional slow downs, performance is perfectly fine. Not helped by me setting the cache size to the default on our main file server when we've got 16GB of RAM in there.

Ohh, and don't bother with a really high power CPU configuration. We bought a dual AMD six-core system (so 12 cores in total) and 11 of them are just sat there parked most of the time.

But unfortunately, we're looking at replacing StarWind with Equalogic for our primary because "nobody got fired for buying Equalogic" and our parent company is unfamilar with software SAN and thefore wary. But we're keeping it for our secondary SAN as it's just so good.

Cheers, Rob.
Regards,
Anton Kolomyeytsev

Chief Technology Officer & Chief Architect, StarWind Software

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Re: Why did you buy StarWind and not its competitor?

Postby robnicholson » Tue Sep 11, 2012 9:18 am

What do you think about licensing policy when you'll be charged for data capacity only? So number of nodes actually handling data would be up to you?


It would put me off. It smacks of "ohh you're using more storage but it's effectively the same box/work/software for us but we'll charge you more anyway". The flexibility of just stucking in some temporary JBOD is welcomed.

Do you think there's some way to go? Using OEMs / selling to integrators only? Automatic verification tool? Anything else?


Maybe some recommended/testing hardware configurations? All we're mainly talking about here is the server, disk controller & network cards. Maybe some memory sizing recommendations as I notice that deduplication requires a lot more memory.

Well, I've heard it about IBM actually EQL is nice but has own issues (unusable snapshots for example).


It really does stick in my throught to have to consider non-Starwind as it's working fine, is incredibly cost effective and is gaining more and more neat features each version.

Cheers, Rob.
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Re: Why did you buy StarWind and not its competitor?

Postby anton (staff) » Sat Sep 15, 2012 8:56 am

1) Right now we have 2x or 3x node config and you pay for capacity (you've got unlimited but it does not matter @ all). Going to N nodes (grid) requires us to chage licensing model. What do you think is convenient for you?

[ It's public discussion so everybody else is welcomed to contribute ]

2) OK, we'll take "make more or less reference design config" as a home work. Thank you for suggestion!
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