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 SoftwareStarWind 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 TapeStarWind 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.
- Integrates with existing Tape Backup infrastructure
- Replicate Mission Critical Data via a single platform
- Simplify Disaster Recovery, Backups
- Better Business Continuity Planning
- BakBone NetVault
Snapshot AnalysisI'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.