StarWind Enterprise Server

By Jack Fegreus (Profile)
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Thursday, July 23rd 2009
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With StarWind Enterprise Server, any 32-bit or 64-bit Windows Server can be used to provide iSCSI target devices capable of sharing access with multiple hosts. Most importantly, StarWind differs from many competitive offerings by including two nodes with a StarWind Enterprise Server license to support mirroring and replication. StarWind also places no limits on the storage capacity exported to clients or on the number of client connections.

The simplicity of providing virtualization with a software iSCSI SAN solution allows StarWind to fit a wide range of IT needs. For SMB sites, where direct attached storage (DAS) is dominant, IT can leverage StarWind Enterprise Server with existing Ethernet infrastructure to adopt a SAN paradigm with minimal capital expenditure (CapEx) and operating (OpEx) costs. At large enterprise sites, IT can immediately garner a positive return on investment (ROI) by leveraging StarWind Enterprise Server to extend storage consolidation to desktop systems for dramatically higher storage utilization, on-demand storage provisioning, higher data availability, booting over the SAN, and tighter risk management.

It is the virtualization of systems via a Virtual Operating Environment (VOE); however, that now garners the lion's share of attention from CIOs. More importantly, to maximize the benefits of a VOE, such as VMware Virtual Infrastructure, shared SAN-based storage is a prerequisite. StarWind Enterprise Server further compounds the SAN value proposition with integrated software for the automation of storage management functions to ensure the high availability of data and protection against application outages. StarWind Enterprise Server's data management features include thin storage provisioning, data replication and migration, automated snapshots for continuous data protection, and remote mirroring for less than $3,000.

What's more, StarWind helps IT utilize storage assets more efficiently and avoid vendor lock-in. There are substantial capital costs to be paid when the same storage management functions are licensed for every storage array. Licenses for snapshot, mirror, and replication functionality will often double the cost of an array.

By building on multiple virtualization constructs, including the notion of a space of virtual disk blocks from which logical volumes are built, StarWind Enterprise Server is able to take full control over physical storage devices. In doing so, StarWind provides storage administrators with all of the tools needed to automate such critical functions as thin provisioning, creating disk snapshots, disk replication and cloning, as well as local and remote disk mirroring.

iSCSI From Desktop to VM

With server virtualization and storage consolidation the major drivers of iSCSI adoption, VSM Labs set up two servers running StarWind Enterprise Server in a VMware iSCSI SAN test scenario. We focused our tests on StarWind's ability to support a Virtual Operating Environment featuring VMware ESX server hosting 8 VMs running Windows Server 2003. With disk sharing essential for such advanced features as VMotion and VMware Consolidated Backup (VCB), the lynch pin for supporting these features with StarWind is the device sharing capability, which is dubbed "clustering" in the device creation wizard.