The cost myths behind VSANs and hyperconvergence, with StarWind

15 October 2019 | 3930 Shares

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The technology press is keen on the very latest offerings and possibilities, as you might expect. To journalists, quantum computing is a fascinating subject, as is the concept of new, 5G-connected ranks of IoT devices.

Those working in IT professionally, however, are of a less excitable disposition. That’s perhaps not surprising, as one efficient way to find oneself out of work is to install and run the very latest in technology as production systems, and then feign surprise as the business’s bottom line goes an unhealthy shade of red!

In the pragmatic world of professional IT, especially among those who provide business-critical systems, there’s a definite desire to wait-and-see— certainly for new, untried technologies. Platform maturity is the byword of procurement, and rightly so.

Virtualization is one of those technologies that is, now, changing the world, powering the cloud and its massive, scalable range of on-tap services. But when virtualization first became ‘a thing’, it took a while for the concepts (and the codebases) to bed-in properly.

Now, of course, the concept of software abstraction has spread right across the data center (or, for the smaller organization, the server room). Virtual machines, abstracted network infrastructure and virtualized storage (VSAN) are now forming converged platforms that are simpler to manage, cheaper to run, and offer massive scalability at the click of a mouse.

Naturally, as technologies mature and become features of the data center, their price falls. In the case of fully-hyperconverged infrastructures, that’s thought not to be generally the case. HCIs (hyperconverged infrastructure) are still thought of as the realm of the big-budget IT department. Cheaper offerings exist, but are they production-ready, at enterprise scale?

Happily, for businesses of all sizes, the answer is now a resounding “yes”, with newer, more nimble players entering the market offering high-grade, resilient solutions that are enterprise-level, but without the enterprise price tag.

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That’s of obvious interest to the systems administrator in the smaller business, but also, IT managers presiding over the most extensive networks and huge teams need to cut costs yet keep services running, responsive and in full production-readiness.

As prime example of the new wave of virtualization suppliers, StarWind‘s solutions offer companies of any scale the massive advantages of abstracted services (from full HCI to virtual tape drives), by using enterprise-grade commodity hardware and powerful software. The company has got some glowing praise from reviewers and customers alike: its hyperconverged systems are ranked amongst the fastest, yet the cheapest out there at present.

The company’s VSAN is a case in point. Traditional SAN arrays need controlling hardware and as many (often proprietary) nodes as the storage-needy company can afford. The management of these arrays is specialized, and therefore costly, too, as regards OPEX entries in the company ledger. However, by using VMs, the StarWind Virtual SAN eliminates the need for any extra physical, shared storage. That’s because the VSAN solutions use the same systems as any company is — in all likelihood — already using: virtual machines.

VSAN for vSphere, for example, comes as a Linux VM that creates mirrors of internal storage and shares them between hypervisors as a malleable, reliable and simple-to-manage storage pool.

That approach significantly lowers costs, both of hardware, but also of maintenance and management — if a sys admin can run VMs, they can run the VSAN as well, and, in the same management interface.

vSphere and Hyper-V clusters can be deployed in this manner on Azure or AWS, as well as in-house. So, whether you’re using all-cloud, bare-metal or hybrid infrastructure, managing very complex topologies’ SANs becomes a very simple matter.

For the business, that means the IT department can simply say “yes” a lot more often: there’s no delay after requests for more storage, new instances, or copies or resources for testing or development.

For vSphere environments, StarWind’s Virtual SAN starts at a two-node deployment for $3750, giving literally unlimited storage capacity. For larger organizations, StarWind’s pricing model means companies simply pay license fees on a per-node basis. There are no capacity limitations, and scalability is unrestricted. Data puddles can become lakes, and then in time, oceans.

Naturally, IT managers will need more than an online demo (available here) to be convinced. There’s a free pricing tier for proof-of-concept that’s unlimited for testing and development purposes. But businesses of any size would be well advised to take advantage of the StarWind 24/7 support and help service, regardless of the level on in-house expertise.

With a massively lower cost than traditional SANs, and with all the advantages that a hyperconverged storage platform can bring, the StarWind VSAN is practical, reliable and scalable abstraction technology.

You can read more about StarWind’s VSAN for Hyper-V here, or learn more about VSAN for vSphere and the company’s other software & hardware offering on this site.