Maximizing your IT Investments with Powerful, Virtualized Storage

23 January 2023 | 15 Shares

One of the great promises of technology is that it would democratize, if not the world, then certainly many of the workflows of those using it to get things done. Fifty years ago, only the well-to-do had access to a word processor; today, they’re ubiquitous. Everyone today uses advanced database searching and powerful ML algorithms, whether or not they’re aware of what’s actually happening after a mouse click or screen tap.

But quite a few technologies seem to remain available only to those with deep pockets. Hyperconvergence is just such an example. As a technology, it’s reaching maturity since its evolution from hypervisors and virtual machines. Yet, partly because it was only ever thought of as a technology deployed in large data centers, it’s not yet reached the mainstream, especially outside the private DC. At least, that’s always been the case. For several years now, Europe’s Starwind Software has been quietly producing enterprise-grade convergent technologies that are taking significant market share from the likes of VMWare and Nutanix.

The vSAN: an introduction

For any organization that relies on data, the resilience, availability, elasticity, and speed of the areas in which data is stored are paramount. Many have already invested in resilience, with high-end storage devices that offer fast read and write speeds on hardware built for enterprise-level workloads. Themselves, off-the-shelf storage represents a large investment for many companies. Capitalizing on that investment is music to the ears of SMB owners and decision-makers, especially the CFO.

Convergent technologies can take several off-the-shelf storage devices and form a scalable and highly reliable “pool” of storage that can be assigned where it needs to be available when needed. By doing so, the Storage Area Network (SAN: a pool of networked stores) extends the useful range of service offerings the off-the-shelf hardware can bring to the table.

In data centers, SANs would be controlled by dedicated hardware, often maintained by professional storage engineers, a setup that is as expensive as it sounds. But the vSAN from StarWind Software abstracts the controlling hardware into software and gives your existing IT professionals a simple dashboard to control the resource. As time progresses, and the organization needs more room to store data, extra nodes can be added, forming a greater pool as required (or pools – the software layer can present multiple storage resources if required).

The resilience factor

The more nodes added, the greater the resilience, as data is replicated across the available nodes. So, should one device fail, the others will continue to serve information to mission-critical applications and services regardless.

Source: StarWind Software

In normal circumstances, bringing in a replacement for an ailing device can take several hours to spin back up and become part of the pool once more. But StarWind’s latest iteration on its software vSAN uses filesystem-level journalling on fast disks, so restoring from a failed device situation takes a fraction of the time “traditional” SANs take to return to full production. Data sets rebuilt according to the journal-ed records reappear quickly, ensuring little to no impact on production systems.

All this extra reliability and scalability comes at a tiny resource overhead in terms of the compute and network traffic required to maintain the storage network. The software is very lightweight and completely transparent to end-users whose experience is indistinguishable from accessing bare metal directly. For administrators, the same GUI dashboard that controls all of StarWind’s offerings is the basis for control, monitoring, and setup. Many SME organizations leverage StarWind Software’s technical staff to run some or all of the company’s hyperconvergent solutions, allowing internal staff to concentrate on bringing value to the organization. Variable support levels allow companies to “test the hyperconvergent waters” to see how the solutions will help them reach their strategic goals.

Step-wise to HCI

Over the years, we’ve been pleased to feature many of StarWind’s software and hardware offerings on these pages, from the virtual SAN to the HCI devices that make an entire business’s IT assets elastic and scalable. As companies’ internal infrastructure slows in its ability to support the organization’s longer-term strategies, StarWind’s technologies are extending the life and capabilities of what, for many, is a significant investment.

Decisions around technology procurement in the small-to-medium sector are particularly sensitive – no one has the budget to invest in experimental technology to test its suitability for a purpose. Instead, StarWind’s portfolio allows companies to target a specific need or previous investment and fully capitalize on the resources at hand (and any needed additions as the company grows). The vSAN virtual device is incredibly budget-sensitive, bringing hyperconvergence capability to any extant hypervisors. It’s effectively a full data center=grade vSAN providing massive reliability and elasticity on any fault-tolerant, industry-standard hardware.

As your company transitioned to virtual machines in on-premise servers and the cloud, the next step to full hyperconvergence across the enterprise can comprise a series of simple steps. Speak to a representative from StarWind about your particular storage network requirements. There’s no hard sell or vendor lock-in, nor will the licensing costs make your eyes water! Recommended.