Star Wind Software claims "Zero to SAN in 30 Minutes"

Star Wind Software claims "Zero to SAN in 30 Minutes"

Summary: StarWind iSCSI SAN - can it live up to the claims?

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A representative of StarWind Software reached out to me offering an opportunity to speak with a company executive. The message included a marketing catch phrase/claim "from Zero to SAN in 30 minutes" and then went on to say that StarWind Software could take any industry standard x86 or x64 system "into a fail-safe, fault-tolerant storage that will be continuously available even in the event of failure." StarWind Software offers two products StarWind iSCSI SAN Software and StarWind iSCSI Virtual Tape.

While this would be desirable for virtualized workloads requiring higher levels of availability than can be provided by a single host server, I find myself somewhat skeptical about this supplier's claims.

Here's how Star Wind describes their products

StarWind iSCSI SAN Software
StarWind SAN software turns any industry-standard 64-bit or 32-bit Windows server into a fail-safe, fault-tolerant, high availability SAN. StarWind HA technology permits applications to have non-disruptive, continuous access to storage in the event of failure.

Traditional, legacy High Availability SAN products have always been expensive and complicated. This has been a roadblock for small and midsize companies who are in the process of deploying VMware vSphere, Microsoft Hyper-V and other server applications that need to be configured as Windows server clusters. With Active-Active High Availability architecture, the new StarWind helps you build a high availability storage server that keeps your data continuously available and accessible, offering you enterprise-class reliability and high availability without the related high price and complexity of proprietary, legacy vendor solutions.

StarWind iSCSI Virtual Tape
StarWind iSCSI Virtual Tape offers an affordable and easy-to-use enterprise-level Virtual Tape Array technology that uses disks to perform fast and reliable tape backups. StarWind iSCSI Virtual Tape replaces inefficient tape devices and is more reliable than tape libraries with no need to physically search for tapes in a warehouse. Virtual tape array considerably improves backup and disaster recovery by eliminating tape library changer device latency and is scalable to 64 TB tape devices. StarWind iSCSI Virtual Tape allows direct attachment of VTA to tape drives for archival storage with an unlimited number of virtual tape cartridges.

Key Features

  • Integrates with existing Tape Backup infrastructure
  • Replicate Mission Critical Data via a single platform
  • Simplify Disaster Recovery, Backups
  • Better Business Continuity Planning

Compatibility

  • BakBone NetVault
  • CA
  • Symantec
  • CommVault

Snapshot Analysis

I'm reminded of a cartoon by S. Harris. The cartoon shows two lab-coat-wearing professors standing at a chalk board. The chalk board contains three sections. The first and third section show mathematical equations. The second section shows the words "and then a miracle happens." The caption reads "I think you need to be more explicit here in step 2." (If you would like to see this cartoon, it can be found here.)

Since Star Wind Software is a company just emerging from stealth mode, I was skeptical. After reading through their literature, I believe that they offer products that can live up to at least part of their promises. Like many startups, however, it appears that the claims both are too broad and leave out important details making their statements somewhat hard to believe.

For example, StarWind, when presenting its StarWind iSCSI SAN, speaks about making  any industry standard x86 or x64 system "into a fail-safe, fault-tolerant storage that will be continuously available even in the event of failure" and then shows a diagram having two systems. An industry observer could ask, "Does your solution require two physical systems? If so, why didn't you say so?"

Obviously it would take longer than 30 minutes to install a single industry standard machine, load system software than then assign it the task of running one of Star Wind's products. Multiply that by two and 30 minute promise seems discredited. It could be true, by the way, if the system in question was from Stratus Technologies otherwise a single system would not be able to live up to the claims made for fault tolerance and continuous availability.

I hope to speak with them at some point to get a more complete story. At this point, however, I believe that they've exaggerated the ease of installation and offer claims that require a more complex configuration than their initial marketing statement says. This makes me wonder where else the company has offered hyperbole rather than straight talk.

I'm working out a time and date to speak with the folks of StarWind.  I'll post something on that discussion after it happens.

Topics: Hardware, Data Management, Servers, Software, Storage

About

Daniel Kusnetzky, a reformed software engineer and product manager, founded Kusnetzky Group LLC in 2006. He's literally written the book on virtualization and often comments on cloud computing, mobility and systems software. In his spare time, he's also the managing partner of Lux Sonus LLC, an investment firm.

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Talkback

6 comments
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  • Persist!

    A detailed ZDNET investigation of iSCSI for home users is long overdue - I suggested it as a topic for Tech Broiler and IT Dojo way back. Yes, Starwind's claim is OTT but I believe the topic worth persuing.

    Consider that M$ lock up iSCSI target software in an expensive OEM-only Storage Server OS variant for businesses. Home users are offered Windows Home Server. So I have a family and 4 PC's ... and I need ANOTHER box, ANOTHER OS ... how come Windows 7 doesn't look after my data? Isn't that an operating system function - to look after my data? Or I can go the DROBO route. WOW, what a price tag for a single-function box running dynamic RAID 5!

    How about a basic iSCSI solution on a home GBE network? Repurpose that old PC as a data server, load up SOLARIS to provide a free iSCSI target and a superior file system (ZFS) and ... storage virtualisation complete. Still a few loose ends to tidy up ... so tidy them up already!

    OK, so I have two old PC's - now I can create a fault tolerant virtualised data store! What's taking you guys at ZDNET so long to design it? What's the throughput on a consumer-grade switch? What's a good case to house lots of disks? How many GBE ports do I need?

    Then tell me what can be done cost-effectively with professional-grade hardware for SME's.

    Shoot-from-the-hip-unsolicited-advice ...
    ANSWERS please - not scepticism! You've got 30 minutes ;-)
    jacksonjohn
  • RE: Star Wind Software claims

    Dan,
    this is Zorian Rotenberg here, CEO of StarWind. First of all, thank you for mentioning us in your article.

    I would like to make a quick comment that we are not "emerging from stealth" - StarWind iSCSI SAN software has been around since 2003. I think the confusion was about our company spinning out 14 months ago but we have been selling for years and have 2,000 paid customers.

    Additionally, the software certainly can be downloaded and installed in less than 30 minutes on a standard Intel server and works exactly as advertised. While you are absolutely right that a complete configuration may take someone longer, it certainly is still very simple and we are using this catchy marketing slogan to advertise that this is indeed doable. We stand behind this and demonstrate how it is installed and configured in a live weekly demo called "Getting Started with StarWind iSCSI SAN Software Webinar" (http://www.starwindsoftware.com/events).

    If you have time this or next week, I would like to invite you to a call with me and I would love to show you how we install and configure High Availability on 2 storage devices in 30 - 45 minutes...well, maybe even slightly longer if we have an open Q&A. :)

    Thank you again and best regards,
    Zorian Rotenberg
    CEO, StarWind Software
    ZorianRotenberg
    • Unfair Review

      Hi Mr Rotenberg,

      I've used some of your product in VMware training environments and it works like a charm. I'd actually venture to say that it could take less than 30 minutes to get it setup, assuming the boxes already have the OS installed. I feel Dan was a quite unfair in his article. Hope he gives your company the chance to demo your products so he can write a fair review.

      Thanks,
      Jeff Morales
      IT Network Manager
      Miami Dade College
      jeffmorales
    • I'm arranging a time to chat

      Zorian,

      Thanks for your kind offer to speak with me. I look forward to the conversation. Your PR firm has the times/dates I have open.

      Dan K
      dkusnetzky
  • RE: Star Wind Software claims

    Hi, Dan. I like to read your work and am a fan but I thought that this particular post was not fair. Seems like you just offered your opinion on the software without any testing and it was positioned in a very negative light which can harm this company. It would have been more appropriate, just in my opinion, to first check their product or have a live demo with the company and then writing about the product instead of first posting before you actually looked at it. At least if you do that, it should not sound so negative. Hope this guy Zorian Rotenberg will have a chance to speak with you and show you the demo, and then you owe it to us, to your readers, to write a post that is based on what you learned rather than just an opinion without any basis. Just my take on this...
    John_Bell
  • RE: Star Wind Software claims

    Dan,
    did Datacore Software pay you to write this post or something? LOL!

    My advice for you is to test a product before you write a biased "non-review" sponsored by a competitor.

    Come on, you are a journalist! This just makes you look like you were bribed. Go test a product in a lab before you spout off some useless opinion about a softwareproduct that you have never even downloaded, never mind installed and configured.

    John W.
    (Just a VAR guy who installs and sells storage)
    Johnthevar