Very small shops and often hesitate to go virtual and stay on physical servers. Usually it's because they only have and need a single physical server. But when a disaster strikes and the server is down, then there is usually long time before the users can connect and work again. In this post we will explore a way of providing storage and compute redundancy with StarWind Virtual SAN (VSAN).
StarWind only needs two physical servers where other solutions usually have a physical shared storage as third physical “box” or uses 3 hosts to create storage pool. StarWind only needs two, because it uses an internal mechanism to sync data across those two nodes and don't need third host which usually act as Witness and runs a tiebreaker code.
StarWind for Hyper-V or VMware vSphere are two versions of StarWind where the vSphere edition now does not need Windows to run. You save some money on licensing. StarWind Virtual SAN is now distributed as a Linux VM (VSA) with pass-through disks, and pass-through NICs to achieve the best possible performance. The solution pulls the local storage of each host and creates a shared storage pool.
If you're Hyper-V shop, you can setup a redundant cluster with just two Hyper-V hosts which fits in most scenarios for ROBO and very small SMB.
StarWind High Availability (HA) relies on redundant network links between the StarWind hosts to maintain storage resilience. Those links are used for monitoring and failures. If any of the nodes fail or stop processing requests properly, the failover is instantly initiated from the client OS/Hypervisor side.
StarWind VSAN Architecture compared to traditional 2-servers + shared storage.
StarWind VSAN architecture for small business running on VMware
So what would one actually need to run a small virtual infrastructure, to run a couple of virtual machines (VMs), and have one of the cheapest solutions with some kind of high availability? VMware vSphere has two editions for small business. It is vSphere Essentials (without automatic HA and restart of VMs) and Essentials plus license.
If you don't need to restart your VMs automatically, the vSphere Essentials is just fine. You'll be able to install the solution on just two servers (hosts) if you wish. You'll need to deploy a vCenter server for configuration, but if you only using two hosts, you can also jump into the host console and work on your VMs through just two web-based consoles.
Shop for vSphere licenses at VMware Store:
- vSphere Essentials Plus – vMotion, HA… 3 Hosts, vCenter
- vSphere Essentials – 3 Hosts, vCenter
- vSphere Standard – Per Physical CPU license
If one of your hosts is down, simply register your VMs on the host which survived and start those VMs manually. There is no data loss as the underlying storage is mirrored by StarWind.
StarWind will be deployed as a virtual appliance (OVA) which can be downloaded from StarWind. However before you do that, make sure that you setup properly your underlying ESXi hosts with virtual networks and all this kind of stuff.
Note: You'll need at least 3 network interface cards (NICs) which StarWind will be using.
StarWind Virtual SAN for VMware – What's New?
- Linux Kernel updated.
- Fixed StarWind Events issue in Management Console, namely the invisibility of events after changing time in the OS.
- Added support for iSCSI Header Digest and iSCSI Data Digest. These features provide CRC data control in iSCSI headers and PDUs, respectively, and can be enabled by setting corresponding options in iSCSI Initiator on the client.
- Optimized performance when more than three sessions connect to the target.
- Added log message for an error on session reinstantiation due to the stuck old session.
- Fixed issue in cache deinitialization. In some cases, devices with disk cache could prevent normal service termination.
Here is the view from the management console, which must be installed on a Windows management workstation.
The newest StarWind VSAN build can be downloaded here:
The complete Release Notes can be viewed by following this link:
StarWind Virtual SAN will make sure that your shared storage will available for VMs if any of your hosts will fail. The minimum number of hosts is two where most of its competitors needs 3 hosts. StarWind has an internal heartbeat mechanism which ensures proper storage path isolation in the event of synchronization network failures and prevents so-called storage “split-brain”.
So the solution is a perfect fit for ROBO and SMB where coupled with vSphere Essentials or Essentials plus license, you get a very resilient platform for a reasonable cost without investing into an additional hardware SAN device.
More posts about StarWind on ESX Virtualization:
- StarWind Virtual SAN Best Practices
- Free StarWind iSCSI accelerator download
- VMware ESXi Free and StarWind – Two node setup for remote offices
- VMware vSphere and HyperConverged 2-Node Scenario from StarWind – Step By Step
- StarWind Storage Gateway for Wasabi Released
- How To Create NVMe-Of Target With StarWind VSAN
- Veeam 3-2-1 Backup Rule Now With Starwind VTL
- StarWind and Highly Available NFS
- StarWind VSAN on 3 ESXi Nodes detailed setup
- VMware VSAN Ready Nodes in StarWind HyperConverged Appliance
More posts from ESX Virtualization:
- How to Patch vCenter Server Appliance (VCSA) – [Guide]
- VCP6.7-DCV Objective 4.2 – Create and configure vSphere objects
- What is The Difference between VMware vSphere, ESXi and vCenter
- How to Configure VMware High Availability (HA) Cluster
- VMware Certification Changes in 2019