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StarWind Virtual SAN Free

Pure software-based VM-centric and flash-friendly VM storage (iSCSI, SMB3, NFS, iSER and NVMe over Fabrics) including free version. Same software embedded on StarWind ready nodes.

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StarWind Virtual SAN Free

Postby anton (staff) » Sat Jul 11, 2015 9:38 pm

Guys & Girls!

It has been a while since we've released our new updated StarWind Virtual SAN Free but questions keep coming... So I've decided to take a break and find some time to address all of them once and forever :) Results of my attempt are below.

Some history to start from. We've been giving away free version for almost 10 years now. Functionality did change dramatically. First it was single-node basic version with iSCSI target functionality. Microsoft had no iSCSI target @ that time and has Storage Server with iSCSI target later so we've been popular like hell. In 2010 Microsoft released their (OK, it was actually String Bean iSCSI but who cares...) iSCSI target free of charge to anybody and in 2012 included into Windows Server 2012. Nobody needed StarWind free stuff anymore :) So we've decided to give away now HA version of iSCSI target but with capacity limitation (not to destroy our sales). Somebody decided to stick with 128 GB so people could "try a little bit of HA" (c) Joe. This version had moderate popularity but more people complained about limited capacity then actually used our stuff. Then recently in late 2014 we started giving away now hyper-converged version of our stuff. It was a killer! No capacity limitation, production use allowed, all features there. Nice... Except it was too complex to configure properly so people were building clumsy setups and complaining about performance. Our support staff actually expected NOT to help to "free" users was overloaded with actually helping to students, consultants, admins w/out business case in mind etc. Just because we typically suspect it's OUR fault when something goes wrong. In MOST cases however it was as simple as broken setup. Hyper-Converged thing is GREAT when done properly but huge PITA if not. Then we've moved hyper-converged setup into VMs to simplify the things. It worked but up to some level... Still issues with configs and still hell of questions to support. So we decided to withdraw this offering and stop giving away hyper-converged version to everybody. We still give it away to limited amount of people who we know CAN do proper setups (SpiceWorks users with high spice level, Microsoft MVPs and MCTs and VARs). So these guys are WELCOME to drop us an e-mail asking about hyper-converged version capable of running N-node cluster and feeding shared storage from 2-nodes only. Pure 2-node setups are also OK. Just for reference here are some pics of what we can do with this version:

(see pictures in attachment)

Image

Image




You can read & apply for SpiceWorks related version here:

http://community.spiceworks.com/topic/1046250-what-is-an-exclusive-free-spiceworks-friendly-starwind-virtual-san

and for MVPs & MCTs and VARs please contact sales using ordinary [email protected] alias :)

We found SMB3/NFSv4.1 LUN-less "Compute and Storage Separated" version of StarWind Virtual SAN being MUCH easier to configure and run. See here:

https://www.starwindsoftware.com/starwind-virtual-san-free

Making long story short:

StarWind Virtual SAN Free takes two brand new or decommissioned from other project servers and turns them into DIY dual-controller “shared nothing” fault-tolerant SAN and NAS by “mirroring” their internal storage between them. High available iSCSI SAN functionality is kept for “internal housekeeping” thus inter-node communications and Continuously Available SMB 3.02 (SMB3) shares and Failover NFSv4.1 (NFS) mount points are exposed to storage consumers. Everything is done to simplify installation, support and possible troubleshooting. Something like on a picture below:

Image

Whole story for Free Vs. Paid can be found here:

https://www.starwindsoftware.com/styles-v2/pdf/starwind-free/Free_vs_Paid.pdf

So if you think there's anything else we can do to boost your virtualized infrastructure please let us know. We'd be happy to help :)
Regards,
Anton Kolomyeytsev

Chief Technology Officer & Chief Architect, StarWind Software

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Re: StarWind Virtual SAN Free

Postby velis » Wed Aug 05, 2015 3:05 pm

Does one have to apply for every new released build? I looked all around your website but I can't seem to find a downloads page.
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Re: StarWind Virtual SAN Free

Postby anton (staff) » Fri Aug 07, 2015 8:08 pm

Yes, that's a plan. We don't silently change build keeping evergreen path and we don't open can of worms spawning new download URL every time.

P.S. Download page would be pack soon it would be a "proxy" where you apply for new key / URL again and again. Well, good news auto-fill is still there and you can register on the customer portal to simplify your life of a frequent downloader :)

velis wrote:Does one have to apply for every new released build? I looked all around your website but I can't seem to find a downloads page.
Regards,
Anton Kolomyeytsev

Chief Technology Officer & Chief Architect, StarWind Software

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Re: StarWind Virtual SAN Free

Postby DarthMaul40 » Mon Feb 29, 2016 12:44 pm

Hello,

I installed it on a Windows 2003 server (32bit) and I get this error when launching StarWind Management Console:

---------------------------
StarWindManagementConsole.exe - Entry Point Not Found
---------------------------
The procedure entry point GetTickCount64 could not be located in the dynamic link library KERNEL32.dll.
---------------------------
OK
---------------------------

Any workaround?

Thanks!
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Re: StarWind Virtual SAN Free

Postby darklight » Mon Feb 29, 2016 3:28 pm

Hi, Darth Maul!

Unfortunately, you need a 64-bit OS in order for StarWind to work properly. As per https://www.starwindsoftware.com/system-requirements the minimal Windows version is 2008 R2.
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Re: StarWind Virtual SAN Free

Postby DarthMaul40 » Mon Feb 29, 2016 3:34 pm

Hi,

Thanks for reply! I was expecting that the installer would detect the OS version and just refuse installation on unsupported platforms.

Best regards
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Re: StarWind Virtual SAN Free

Postby anton (staff) » Tue Mar 01, 2016 2:25 pm

This is perfectly correct! We'll file this bug and will fix it in an upcoming update. Thanks for pointing :)

DarthMaul40 wrote:Hi,

Thanks for reply! I was expecting that the installer would detect the OS version and just refuse installation on unsupported platforms.

Best regards
Regards,
Anton Kolomyeytsev

Chief Technology Officer & Chief Architect, StarWind Software

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Re: StarWind Virtual SAN Free

Postby BarryM » Thu Mar 17, 2016 3:07 pm

If I understand you correctly, you have removed the iSCSI target capability from the Starwind host. Is that just for a hyper-converged configuration or does that include Compute and Storage Separated as well?
A lot of storage vendors are using NFS on their storage boxes but still include the MPIO iSCSI or FCoE load balancing capabilities communicating with Initiators.
My configuration is iSCSI MPIO between the storage servers and VMware hosts. Currently I only use Cisco Etherchannels for VM port groups and vmkernal port groups. I don't want to have to reconfigure my 10G links for LACP or add switches if I upgrade the version since I use some target to initiator direct links for redundancy.
I am currently using 8.0.7929
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Re: StarWind Virtual SAN Free

Postby PoSaP » Mon Mar 21, 2016 4:00 pm

I`ve reached release notes and I didn`t see any changes with the ISCSi target capability.
Here is release notes https://www.starwindsoftware.com/release-notes-build
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Re: StarWind Virtual SAN Free

Postby BarryM » Tue Mar 22, 2016 6:58 pm

build 8730 killed the iSCSI target to VMware as soon as I added a replica even with a different adapter that is not used for sync or heartbeat. This is a simple 2 server C&SS config without MS clustering. I created another image device without the replica and VMware sees it fine. The replicated target images are seen by the storage adapters on the VMware host but access to the replicated images is blocked.

edit.... HA on VMware is not licensed at the moment. These are just esxi hosts w/o vcenter. We are only licensed for Essentials at the moment. I don't know if this affects my storage access for this config. I would have to upgrade to Essentials Plus to get the HA capabilities.
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Re: StarWind Virtual SAN Free

Postby hste » Tue Mar 22, 2016 8:15 pm

Barry: I think the remove of the iscsi is restricted in the license file. If you have iscsi on an older version of Starwind 8 you will have it on a newer version of Starwind 8 using your old license,
I sat up my homelab with iscsi on the free version of Starwind VSAN before the changed the policy, and I didn't loose my storage after upgrading using the same license,
Same as if you got a license for 2 node HA VSAN before Starwind changed their policy and removed , you can still use it.
I guess the Starwind people can correct me if I am wrong.

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Re: StarWind Virtual SAN Free

Postby PoSaP » Tue Mar 22, 2016 8:24 pm

Sorry, I misunderstood you.
Yes, now free license doesn`t support hyper converged scenario.
But as described above, you can ask for a free license with hyper converged scenario support.
As far as I know you should write to [email protected]
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Re: StarWind Virtual SAN Free

Postby BarryM » Wed Mar 23, 2016 3:29 pm

I flipped on the NFR license for this prototype and the iSCSI images became visible to the VMware host. The free version only supports iSCSI as a standalone target.
This doesn't do me much good because all of the servers are configured for iSCSI MPIO and NFS would be a mess to reconfigure on my network.
We are a non profit and "yesterday's technology tomorrow" is the rule rather than the exception. Just getting the used hardware together for a replica server took me almost a year. The only role I desire for a MS cluster is a DHCP server since the storage servers are the first to boot in the sequence.
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Re: StarWind Virtual SAN Free

Postby PoSaP » Fri Mar 25, 2016 6:37 pm

Could you clarify, did NFR license helped you?
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Re: StarWind Virtual SAN Free

Postby BarryM » Mon Mar 28, 2016 2:30 pm

The NFR license resolved the issue. However, it is not for production use and is only good for one year.
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