Category Archives: Soft

Software-Defined Storage: StarWind Virtual SAN vs Microsoft Storage Spaces Direct vs VMware Virtual SAN

The article provides comparison of three leading products of the Software-Defined Storage market: Microsoft Storage Spaces Direct, VMware Virtual SAN and StarWind Virtual SAN. There are several use cases considered, based on the deployment scales and architectures.

Microsoft Storage Spaces Direct and VMware Virtual SAN are a perfect choice for bigger SMBs and entry-level enterprises because their licensing is reasonable for typical of these businesses infrastructure types. These solutions are not good with smaller SMBs and ROBOs, being too expensive and a performance overkill for them. The per-host licensing is too expensive for the hyperconverged environment of very big enterprises. Microsoft can expose only SMB3 reasonably well, while VMware “speaks” iSCSI and NFS, which prevents them from creating single shared storage pool in a multi-tenant environment. For the databases scenarios implementation, Microsoft and VMware have specific financial and technical issues.

StarWind Virtual SAN requires minimalistic two-node setup and provides 24/7 support, which makes it a perfect choice for small SMBs and ROBO. It has flexible licensing, to cover different deployment scenarios. StarWind utilizes the majority of industry-standard uplink protocols, so it can work with vSphere and Hyper-V environments simultaneously and provide a single pool of storage instead of separated “islands”. For datacenters, StarWind is good both in its software form as a “data mover” to create the virtual shared storage pool, and complete “ready nodes” for HCI or storage-only infrastructure. StarWind supports non-virtualized Windows Server environments, properly supports all possible storage protocols, and can provide high performance shared storage.

In general, StarWind Virtual SAN rather complements Microsoft Storage Spaces Direct and VMware Virtual SAN, than competes them. It fills the gaps for Microsoft or VMware-based infrastructures, providing them with the features to fine-tune different types of architectures.

Read the detailed comparison here:

Soft Restart Feature – the Great Idea from Microsoft

Let’s talk about the term “chain reaction”. Some of you may think only an unskilled administrator allows this to happen and that normal Fault-Tolerant setups cannot crash. Well, those of you are obviously wrong. Accidents happen and in worst-case scenarios, with multiple servers going into unplanned downtime, even an esteemed IT guru can find his system dead. Remember – there is always a chance higher than zero, and as Murphy’s law states, if something bad can happen, it surely will.

Microsoft came up with a nice idea, called “Soft Restart”, which is meant to shorten the time of the server’s vulnerable reboot state. It removes the hardware initialization phase, which couldn’t be shortened by any other means. Basically, Soft Restart only resets the software, so downtime is minimized, because software loading phase can be shortened dramatically with faster CPUs, flash utilization, etc.

We tested the alpha version of the feature and, sadly, it didn’t work in both physical and virtualized environments. Waiting for Microsoft guys to fix everything, because the idea may be a life-saver for someone. Check out how it all went for us here