vSAN Hyper-V questions: CVM vs Win, paid vs free, etc.

Software-based VM-centric and flash-friendly VM storage + free version

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SiegfriedB
Posts: 13
Joined: Thu Oct 12, 2023 6:20 pm

Mon Oct 23, 2023 9:34 pm

Hi, I'm looking to set up a small 2-node HCI cluster with vSAN free and Hyper-V and I have spent a considerable amount of time reading the documentation, blog entries and the forums, watching YT videos. I have tested vSAN Windows and CVM versions in a test environment. Here's what I still don't quite understand:
  1. Is there a free version of StarWind Virtual HCI Appliance (vHCI)?
    In the email that I received from requesting a free vSAN license, it is stated that a free version exists. However, I found no reference to a free version of HCIA on the website.
    However, if you're in the process of provisioning a brand-new HCI cluster (a "greenfield" deployment), we recommend considering StarWind Virtual HCI Appliance (vHCI) Free.
  2. I have seen the option to receive a free full version with certain credentials (Microsoft certified, Reddit or Spiceworks reputation). Is this still possible right now? If so, is that license just for testing, for home use, or can it be used in production?
  3. Is management through the webinterface supported in the free CVM version?
    My own testing showed that it is possible, but the email that comes with the free license, suggests that it isn't.
    The CVM approach is actually preferred because it has advanced features like ZFS, NVMe-oF support, web UI management (OK, not in the free version…), AI-powered telemetry, and so on, all unavailable in the Windows binary version.
  4. When will NVMe over Fabric (NVMeoF) support come to the CVM version?
    Right now, in my testing, I received a message that indicated that NVMeoF is not yet supported.
  5. When NVMeoF support comes to the CVM version, will it be unlocked in the free version, or will it be locked (like in the free Windows version)?
    I found https://forums.starwindsoftware.com/vie ... 099#p34250, saying that a GUI is need to enable NVMEoF in the Windows version.
  6. Is RDMA, iSER, SMB Direct supported in the CVM?
  7. Can highly available (HA) SMB shares be created? If so, in the CVM, or in the Windows version?
    In my testing, in the CVM, I was only able to create non-HA shares but HA storage was iSCSI only, whereas in the Windows version, I did not see an opportunity to create SMB shares.
  8. How to make RDMA based features (iSER, SMB Direct, NVMEoF) work in a Hyper-V VM (either CVM or Windows based VM with vSAN installation)?
    Should a physical network adapter be passed through (using Direct Device Assignment (DDA) in Hyper-V), or is it enough to create a virtual switch and add the switch to the VM?
  9. Right now, using vSAN free, is it recommended to use the CVM or the Windows application?
  10. (edit: I forgot this question) Is the CVM a generation 1 Hyper-V VM or generation 2?
    I found a documentation that stated that a new, generation 2, VM should be created based on the vhdx file from the download (with Secure Boot disabled), but found that such a VM does not boot. Instead I was able import the configuration file from the download in Hyper-V and it ended up being a generation 1 VM.
Thank you in advance for your reply!
yaroslav (staff)
Staff
Posts: 2322
Joined: Mon Nov 18, 2019 11:11 am

Tue Oct 24, 2023 7:29 am

Thanks for your questions! Please let me answer those.
Is there a free version of StarWind Virtual HCI Appliance (vHCI)
No. You can get StarWind VSAN Free for your own hardware. vHCI is an Appliance and is bundled with additional services. If you do not need those, get yourself the hardware of preference and StarWind VSAN Free. The best would be reaching out to the person who sent you the email by replying to that email or to support@starwind.com
I have seen the option to receive a free full version with certain credentials (Microsoft certified, Reddit or Spiceworks reputation). Is this still possible right now? If so, is that license just for testing, for home use, or can it be used in production?
This license is called NFR and cannot be used for production purposes. See more https://www.starwindsoftware.com/starwi ... ense-users.
When will NVMe over Fabric (NVMeoF) support come to the CVM version?
It is on the roadmap. Please stay tuned!
I found https://forums.starwindsoftware.com/vie ... 099#p34250, saying that a GUI is need to enable NVMEoF in the Windows version.
NVMe-oF is a protocol. StarWind VSAN allows the creation of NVMe-oF targets while StarWind NVMe-oF Initiator is a different product.
Can highly available (HA) SMB shares be created? If so, in the CVM, or in the Windows version?
It is Windows only now. It should be available for CVM at some point too.
How to make RDMA based features (iSER, SMB Direct, NVMEoF) work in a Hyper-V VM (either CVM or Windows based VM with vSAN installation)?
StarWind VSAN and CVM work over iSCSI. iSER and NVMe-oF are not yet available, and I am not sure if you can use SMB Direct.
Should a physical network adapter be passed through (using Direct Device Assignment (DDA) in Hyper-V), or is it enough to create a virtual switch and add the switch to the VM?
It can be passed through or at least an internal Hyper-V switch is to be used.
Right now, using vSAN free, is it recommended to use the CVM or the Windows application?
You can use either of them, depending on your use case. Windows application grants the minimalistic setup for bare-metal Windows deployments.
(edit: I forgot this question) Is the CVM a generation 1 Hyper-V VM or generation 2?
CVM is Gen1. WE are working on it.
SiegfriedB
Posts: 13
Joined: Thu Oct 12, 2023 6:20 pm

Wed Oct 25, 2023 2:48 pm

Thank you very much for your replies!

For now, I have just a bit of feedback to share from my testing: When four physical disks are made available to the CVM, the webinterface does not allow the creation of a ZFS striped mirror (RAID 10 like). I believe this should be added. However, if I create the striped mirror in the shell, it works and that pool can be utilized in vSAN to create LUNs.

like so:

Code: Select all

sudo zpool create pool1 mirror /dev/sdb /dev/sdc mirror /dev/sde /dev/sdf
Image
dmytro (staff)
Staff
Posts: 11
Joined: Mon Mar 22, 2021 8:22 am

Wed Oct 25, 2023 3:54 pm

Hello SiegfriedB,

StarWind VSAN deployed as a CVM allows creating ZFS stripped mirror storage pools using four or more identical disks. We do not use mirrors of disks that have different capacities. What type and capacity of disks have you used to create the pool?

Also, creating a ZFS pool via command line is not the recommended approach to building storage using VSAN, which is the Web UI. In particular, using block device names (/dev/sdb) instead of persistent naming (by-label, by-uuid, by-id, and by-path) can cause issues during system maintenance or reboot. Physical disks can switch block device names around on each boot, culminating in an unbootable system, kernel panic, or a block device disappearing. We recommend using a Web GUI for creating a storage pool (that uses disk UUIDs for the task) and ensures the storage pool starts without issues.
Best regards,
Dmytro Malynka
Product Manager
StarWind Software
SiegfriedB
Posts: 13
Joined: Thu Oct 12, 2023 6:20 pm

Thu Oct 26, 2023 12:13 pm

dmytro (staff) wrote:StarWind VSAN deployed as a CVM allows creating ZFS stripped mirror storage pools using four or more identical disks.
This is a bit embarrassing for me, but I did not see that I can scroll down to see more options. :lol:

To me, at first it looked like this:
Image

But scrolling down,
Image
dmytro (staff) wrote:In particular, using block device names (/dev/sdb) instead of persistent naming (by-label, by-uuid, by-id, and by-path) can cause issues during system maintenance or reboot. Physical disks can switch block device names around on each boot, culminating in an unbootable system, kernel panic, or a block device disappearing.
Ah, yes. I was being lazy because it is a testing environment. It should look like this. Then again, as you said, there is no need to do it in the console in the first place.

Code: Select all

sudo zpool create pool1 \
mirror \
scsi-360022480071aec80a400eb0995a49b2d \
scsi-360022480af8e4ea4aa949423d07b63f3 \
mirror \
scsi-360022480bff9a77c3081f4340cb4020e \
scsi-360022480d67722bb2deba2e4af4a08b1
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anton (staff)
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Tue Feb 27, 2024 11:02 am

OK, assuming "resolved" so... Locking!
Regards,
Anton Kolomyeytsev

Chief Technology Officer & Chief Architect, StarWind Software

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anton (staff)
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Tue Feb 27, 2024 11:02 am

== thread closed ==
Regards,
Anton Kolomyeytsev

Chief Technology Officer & Chief Architect, StarWind Software

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