StarWind SAN V8 – Beta Initial Testing

Last Friday, 9/6/2013, StarWind released a beta of version 8 of their core SAN product – iSCSI SAN. This version has been in the works for several months – it includes what appears to be a major rewrite of the core storage code as well as a simplified management console. The core includes:

Please note that this release is a beta release. That said, I could not wait to give it a shot…even though it’s not quite the same setup as in previous tests. My physical SAN\NAS is now based on FreeNAS with NFS storage presented to VMware – this test will have to be virtual. As a basic first test, I have a 2vCPU, 8GB RAM 2008R2 virtual machine with StarWind iSCSI SAN V8 installed. It is presenting a 50GB volume (which is presented by NFS from FreeNAS) backed by 5GB write-back cache. The initial install of StarWind shows a vastly different console:

Additionally, I am prompted to store data somewhere – either the C: drive, or another volume:

Next, I created the LSFS based iSCSI target – using the advanced device wizard:


After all that, I presented the target to VMware, and cloned a 2008R2 VM from template. Note that the datastore shows full VAAI support, and according to StarWind it is supported. I ended up cloning 2 VMs to the datastore – each with 10GB worth of data. The StarWind server itself showed only 10.1 GB used with DeDupe turned on, but VMware showed 20GB used. The real test: IOMeter:

Again – please note that this is an iSCSI volume based on a VMDK presented by NFS to an ESX host…so there’s a few layers of storage virtualization here…plus it’s only 8GB of virtual RAM, which is not that much (and it’s virtual). All that being said, a write-heavy, random IO test produced EXTREMELY favorable results:

3400 IOPS???!?!?! That’s AMAZING! and it’s all virtual? Imagine if this were a physical server, with tons of RAM and an SSD L2 cache. I would imagine that it would only get better from here. More tests to come!

2 thoughts on “StarWind SAN V8 – Beta Initial Testing”

  1. Where did you get the VAAI drivers for v8? Is it supported in the Free SAN version? I'm going to deploy this to a Dell R510 (S310 RAID) running Windows 2012R2: 1x QC Xeon 12g RAM. Disk layout 8×750 (Raid5) with 2x 60g SSD (R0) for 2nd Cache. Do you think this would work? I'm also considering 10g Ethernet (crossover to my two hosts)

    Ben Mitchell

  2. Benjamin –

    I don't believe that there is a VAAI plugin for StarWind since it is presenting block storage – it was my understanding only file storage (NFS) needs a plugin.

    To be completely honest, my environment is 100% ZFS now, so I can't speak that well to Windows\StarWind iSCSI any more. In ZFS terms, that sounds like a decent setup, though a bit low on RAM (for ZFS at least).

    My current storage server serves NFS for VMware on 4×2 pairs of 10K drives with SSD for SLOG and L2ARC and CIFS on RAIDZ 2T drives. I'm still using 1Gb networking for everything…10G would be nice, but it's $$$ and I just don't see the cost\benefit being worth it at all – 1G does fine for me….spend $$ elsewhere like for RAM, more\faster spindles, etc.

    Here's why I like NFS better:


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