The title says it all. It’s possible to install StarWind SAN software on a free Hyper-V Server from Microsoft. Yes the one without the actual GUI. And that’s a quite interesting (free) solution that I didn’t really consider so far, being mostly VMware consultant. But clients are clients. Right? The life of an IT consultant is dependant of the client’s will. Ok Let’s get back to our setup. I have few free Hyper-V running in my lab (as VMs) and when you think how for example you install the VM tools in such VMs, it’s actually brought up the graphical window of the application to proceed. The same happens when installing StarWind Virtual SAN. A GUI pops-up with the installer allowing to install the product. The StarWind Management console, however, needs to be executed from a remote system.
UPDATE: You should check the latest StarWind Virtual SAN Free vs Paid New Offer for 2017 which lifted almost all limits. (No Node limit, no capacity limit)
So you can basically get for free a 2 node Hyper-V cluster with StarWind doing a mirror (RAID1) for your storage and high availability. StarWind will take the local disks of each of the Hyper-V host and presents them as a shared storage (mirrored from one side to another – thus assuring HA). StarWind “sits” inside of the Hyper-V and their offer is free for 2 nodes. In fact you can do the same for VMware (also free for 2 nodes) where you, however, would need two Windows VMs which would be the destination for the Starwind SAN software, because Starwind needs to be installed on Windows.
A screenshot from StarWind’s site showing the actual setup. You can see the two synchronization connections + one LAN with cluster network and Heartbeat.
But in this article we will focus only on the Hyper-V model. The question here is not to think of it as a enterprise scale solution but rather a lab setup or very small shop with no IT budget as obviously in such a cases you won’t get much support in case anything goes wrong. That’s not the question today as we would like to focus on it as a free solution.
Install Free StarWind SAN on Free Hyper-V – What do I need?
- 2 Hyper-V Free Servers Installed and configured/added to domain (I don’t have a spare hardware so I’ll use VMs.) with 3 NICS each and some local disks
- 1 AD/DNS server on your network with forward/reverse DNS records for your Hyper-V hosts
- StarWind Virtual SAN software with free license – download here.
- Windows management Workstation or Windows Server to install StarWind Management Console
Now, if you’re doing it with a real hardware and you thinking of it as a production environment, you should definitely follow StarWind’s guidelines on that. They recommend the number of NICs etc… I can only highly recommends their Technical Papers and StarWind Manuals page which has the latest content.
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
Here is a screenshot from my lab (connected to my VMware cluster via VMware Workstation) showing the actual installation of StarWind virtual SAN on the top of Free Hyper-V. In my case the Hyper-V runs as a VM but in real life it would, of course, be sitting on some physical hardware because it’s intended to run some VMs, right? But in my case it’s just for the lab exercise ant test.
So first what you need to do is to actually copy the starwind-v8.exe file onto the Hyper-V so you can launch the exe file. What I simply did is that from a remote machine I copied over the network the file to the C: drive ( just access the hyper-V VM via the from the Run window like this \ip_of_hyper_v_vmc$ ) and copy the installer file to c: drive.
Use the default values and finish the installer. I checked all features. By default, only the Loopback Accelerator Driver was checked.
Note that I should have mentioned that when copying the Starwind executable you should have also copy the license file so you can apply that. During the installation you’ll be asked for it!
Next we need to create partition in each of the Hyper-V hosts, on the disk that we would like to mirror. There is no GUI in the Hyper-V console so we’ll use diskpart command:
First get the list of disks present in the system and select the disk where you want to create partition:
In our case it’s a disk 1 that has been added to my test VM, so we do:
select disk 1
Now we want to create partition and assign a drive letter. Let’s use those commands for that:
create partition primary
Update: In case you get error that the media is write protected, just run this command:
ATTRIBUTE DISK CLEAR READONLY
Bring the disk online with command:
Then you can see if the partition was created fine with this command:
Now we need to select the partition and assign drive letter:
select partition 1
I know, one must type those command as there is no GUI. Well, that’s the way it is. You pay the price of this free Hyper-V software by having no tools to manage it. That’s no case in free ESXi from VMware where you get a Windows-based vSphere client. But you already know that…
Last step is that we must format the volume with a NTFS in order to store the StarWind’s img file on it. Just use this command:
format fs=ntfs label=”data” quick
Next exit diskpart and start Powershell to add a MPIO feature for multipathing of iSCSI connection:
enable-windowsoptionalfeature -online -featurename MultipathIO
Useful Diskpart commands:
Or those ones for details:
Now rinse and repeat for the second Hyper-V host… -:) Quite fun…
Management Station Setup
Here we have full blown Windows Server 2012 R2 (where I also test SCVMM), and here we going to install the StarWind Virtual San management console. You don’t have to use Windows 2012 for StarWind console.
When installing on a system with Windows (with a GUI) the StarWind installer behaves quite differently as it proposes the console check boxes. I just want to show up here that the installer looks a bit differently than when executed on the Hyper-V core as here we now have the console options pre-checked. Again, apply the license entitling you for free management of two nodes.
Now if you don’t have Widnows 2012 or R2, you can also use W7 or W8 to install the StarWind’s console as well.
Once installed open the console and add both Hyper-V hosts to the console.
We can see that there is quite a few steps to accomplish and we need to switch between consoles quite often too. If the Hyper-V standard console would allow the local disk management then it would have been much easier.
I see that this post gets quite large so I’ll do the rest in a follow up post. What we have done so far was quite a few steps:
- Installed StarWind Virtual SAN on both Free Hyper-V servers
- Installed a StarWind console on a management station
- Added both hyper-v hosts to the StarWind’s console
- Created a volume, assigned a drive letter and formated a volume where will reside the StarWind’s img file which will be replicated to the other hyper-V host.
You can download plenty of other documentation and resources from StarWind’s Technical PDF page here.