Hyper-V replication, Starwind, or something else?



  • I want to setup a resilient two node virtualisation host production system.
    Every time I narrow it down to what I think is the best solution, I read something that makes me re-think. I need someone to say 'you're a fool for thinking of doing it in any other way than this way' 🙂

    So I was thinking

    1. Use two standalone Hyper V 2016 servers. No AD domain here so it will require some extra steps varying from ridiculously difficult to very easy (according to the 'what am I missing about Hyper-V thread").
      Setup VM replication between the servers. I believe I'd need to use certificates to authenticate the servers to each other to allow this. Seems straightforward enough. So some VMs replicated from A to B and some from B to A, but both hosts have the capacity to run all VMs in the case one goes down. It's not HA but probably enough for our needs if replication is every 10 minutes or so.
      Oh and I've already got Veeam backup and replication (a 30 vm license) which gives me good agentless backup options for Hyper-V. 5-nine manager or something like it would likely be required as well. I'd need less technical people to be able to do some management when I'm not around.

    2. Use Starwind. I'm in conversation with Starwind about their Hyper Converged Appliance. Hypervisor options for the HCA seem to be VMWare or Hyper V. The Starwind tech was suggesting that the free Hyper-V Server wouldn't be suitable for the HCA for licensing reasons so I'd need to pay for 2 Windows Standard licenses on top of the Starwind prices or run VMWare essentials plus. VMWare would be a little more expensive but I do have more experience with it. This is quite a bit more expensive than option 1 but provides HA obviously which would be nice but not essential.

    Is there something else I should be looking at that provides option 1 or 2 at lesser cost/complexity?

    Thanks all


  • Service Provider

    If the guests machines are Windows Server instances, you require SA licensing for them in order to use replication like this.

    This can certainly work though.

    I have never used the building Hyper-V replication on a non AD setup, but you do not require certs there. You can use port 80.



  • Out of roughly 30 VMs, 2 are Windows server instances. We're mostly running Centos here.
    I'll look into SA licensing. I'm not very familiar with it.


  • Service Provider

    @doyler3000 said in Hyper-V replication, Starwind, or something else?:

    Out of roughly 30 VMs, 2 are Windows server instances. We're mostly running Centos here.
    I'll look into SA licensing. I'm not very familiar with it.

    Hyper-V replication works great, don't think I am trying to tell you not to use it.

    I live migrated a FreePBX instance while on a call once for testing. The call never terminated. I lost audio for about 15 seconds.

    Live migration is basically an on demand replication and turn up.


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    @doyler3000 said in Hyper-V replication, Starwind, or something else?:

    Out of roughly 30 VMs, 2 are Windows server instances. We're mostly running Centos here.
    I'll look into SA licensing. I'm not very familiar with it.

    Given that skill set, why look at Hyper-V instead of KVM? Both have been officially dropped from Starwind support temporarily until their new product roles out, which is KVM first, that's their key focus as they see it as the one with the greater future and potential. Hyper-V in general is more complex to manage than KVM. It's a fine product, but given your skill set and existing products, KVM seems like a more natural fit. Generally, Hyper-V makes sense only when you require a specific feature of it.


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    @doyler3000 said in Hyper-V replication, Starwind, or something else?:

    Oh and I've already got Veeam backup and replication (a 30 vm license) which gives me good agentless backup options for Hyper-V. 5-nine manager or something like it would likely be required as well.

    5-Nine would be "extra" stuff only needed because Hyper-V doesn't have the native options that it provides. Another reason for KVM.

    Veeam is great, but they have agent based for your scenario. We have another thread right now talking about this, but why do you see agentless as even something you want, let alone a driving factor in decision making? It sounds nice, but is very rarely (especially in such a large, diverse shop) viable.


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    @doyler3000 said in Hyper-V replication, Starwind, or something else?:

    I'd need less technical people to be able to do some management when I'm not around.

    This alone would be a vote for simpler KVM over complex and difficult Hyper-V. If you get everything set up and nothing goes wrong, the two will be roughly equal. But if something goes wrong, KVM is vastly simpler to maintain.


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    @doyler3000 said in Hyper-V replication, Starwind, or something else?:

    The Starwind tech was suggesting that the free Hyper-V Server wouldn't be suitable for the HCA for licensing reasons ....

    Something is wrong as there is one and only one Hyper-V Server, and it is free. Hyper-V has no non-free option. There is no license for Hyper-V.


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    @doyler3000 said in Hyper-V replication, Starwind, or something else?:

    VMWare would be a little more expensive but I do have more experience with it. This is quite a bit more expensive than option 1 but provides HA obviously which would be nice but not essential.

    Hyper-V, KVM, and Xen all do HA for free. VMware is unique in that HA is not free.


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    @doyler3000 said in Hyper-V replication, Starwind, or something else?:

    Is there something else I should be looking at that provides option 1 or 2 at lesser cost/complexity?

    Without more details as to what is driving decisions, I'd use KVM, Starwind, and Veeam agent based. Takes all of your big complexities, and several of your costs, and removes them.

    1. Simpler than Hyper-V, and marginally better performance.
    2. Starwind's key platform focus.
    3. Solves the issues of unsupported applications and workloads for agentless backup.
    4. Makes your workloads platform agnostic, a key problem with agentless backup approaches.
    5. Simplifies everything, provides for free tools instead of costly ones to make Hyper-V usable.

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    Look @scottalanmiller came in to push his current shiny thing again!

    #shockface 😲


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    @jaredbusch said in Hyper-V replication, Starwind, or something else?:

    Look @scottalanmiller came in to push his current shiny thing again!

    #shockface 😲

    If it's a good solution and solves problems he's facing with his proposed solution, it would be wrong not to bring it up. He specifically listed problems with his current approach and asked what he might do to improve it.



  • I was on a call with Starwind this morning including a sales person and a techie. KVM wasn't mentioned as an option. Perhaps that's because we were discussing the Hyper Converged Appliance and KVM isn't currently an option there. I'm honestly not sure though, I'd have expected them to mention it if it was going to be their focus in the future.

    I was looking at the appliance because the price I was quoted for just the VSAN product i.e. the software without any of the hardware, was almost as much as the appliance (and for less usable storage space).

    I know Starwind do the free version but since it lacks the management application I was sceptical about using this due to the fact I'd need less technical people to support it in my absence.

    Agent versus agentless backups isn't a driving factor for me. I mentioned it because it's something I currently have. I'm not ideologically wedded to it.


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    @doyler3000 said in Hyper-V replication, Starwind, or something else?:

    I was on a call with Starwind this morning including a sales person and a techie. KVM wasn't mentioned as an option. Perhaps that's because we were discussing the Hyper Converged Appliance and KVM isn't currently an option there.

    That would do it, yes.


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    @doyler3000 said in Hyper-V replication, Starwind, or something else?:

    . I'm honestly not sure though, I'd have expected them to mention it if it was going to be their focus in the future.

    I got is straight from the horse's mouth at the time that I posted it. He definitely supersedes anyone you had on the phone.


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    @doyler3000 said in Hyper-V replication, Starwind, or something else?:

    Agent versus agentless backups isn't a driving factor for me. I mentioned it because it's something I currently have. I'm not ideologically wedded to it.

    Don't switch if you don't have to, but keep in mind that agent based is just as good and just as supported. So if the right options don't allow for agentless, don't sweat it.


  • Service Provider

    @doyler3000 said in Hyper-V replication, Starwind, or something else?:

    I was looking at the appliance because the price I was quoted for just the VSAN product i.e. the software without any of the hardware, was almost as much as the appliance (and for less usable storage space).

    I know Starwind do the free version but since it lacks the management application I was sceptical about using this due to the fact I'd need less technical people to support it in my absence.

    In theory, that's how it should work. Basically the hardware is a wash and the software and support costs (it's all support costs actually) should be the same.

    If Hyper-V is the right choice here, that's not a surprise. And if it is because it is part of the appliance, in a lot of ways you can ignore it. A server with a hypervisor is not exactly the same as an appliance with one. The appliance is a "black box" in theory and how it does its magic is of no concern, until it is exposed to you, if that makes sense.



  • @doyler3000 said in Hyper-V replication, Starwind, or something else?:

    I want to setup a resilient two node virtualisation host production system.

    So the goal is not for high-availability, but for host redundancy?

    If that's the case, two Hyper-V hosts with the built-in replication just works, and works well.

    Just keep in mind that going that direction, you could have between 30 seconds and 15 minutes of permanent data loss should you decide to spin up a replica if primary host dies. (unplanned fail-over)

    However, planned-failover is a nice to have if live migration isn't suitable.

    Being all Linux guests, no need to worry about licensing (so long as there's no software running on top of it with weird restrictions).



  • @scottalanmiller said in Hyper-V replication, Starwind, or something else?:

    If Hyper-V is the right choice here, that's not a surprise. And if it is because it is part of the appliance, in a lot of ways you can ignore it. A server with a hypervisor is not exactly the same as an appliance with one. The appliance is a "black box" in theory and how it does its magic is of no concern, until it is exposed to you, if that makes sense.

    Yes that's how I've been trying to think about the appliance. Also since it comes with Active Support from Starwind, in theory my worry about less technical people having to support this when I'm away becomes less relevant. In fact, theoretically I would barely need to support it 🙂


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    @doyler3000 said in Hyper-V replication, Starwind, or something else?:

    @scottalanmiller said in Hyper-V replication, Starwind, or something else?:

    If Hyper-V is the right choice here, that's not a surprise. And if it is because it is part of the appliance, in a lot of ways you can ignore it. A server with a hypervisor is not exactly the same as an appliance with one. The appliance is a "black box" in theory and how it does its magic is of no concern, until it is exposed to you, if that makes sense.

    Yes that's how I've been trying to think about the appliance. Also since it comes with Active Support from Starwind, in theory my worry about less technical people having to support this when I'm away becomes less relevant. In fact, theoretically I would barely need to support it 🙂

    Yup, that's a great way to go for exactly that purpose.



  • @doyler3000 said in Hyper-V replication, Starwind, or something else?:

    in conversation with Starwind about their Hyper Converged App

    Oh so he doesn't already have the hardware?



  • @obsolesce said in Hyper-V replication, Starwind, or something else?:

    @doyler3000 said in Hyper-V replication, Starwind, or something else?:

    I want to setup a resilient two node virtualisation host production system.

    So the goal is not for high-availability, but for host redundancy?

    If that's the case, two Hyper-V hosts with the built-in replication just works, and works well.

    Just keep in mind that going that direction, you could have between 30 seconds and 15 minutes of permanent data loss should you decide to spin up a replica if primary host dies. (unplanned fail-over)

    However, planned-failover is a nice to have if live migration isn't suitable.

    Being all Linux guests, no need to worry about licensing (so long as there's no software running on top of it with weird restrictions).

    Yes HA would be nice but I suspect we don't really need it. However when it's available (see what I did there?) for a price that doesn't break the budget then it becomes tempting.



  • @obsolesce said in Hyper-V replication, Starwind, or something else?:

    @doyler3000 said in Hyper-V replication, Starwind, or something else?:

    in conversation with Starwind about their Hyper Converged App

    Oh so he doesn't already have the hardware?

    He does not.



  • May be better to to go with SW's Appliance then, if the cost comparison makes sense.



  • @obsolesce said in Hyper-V replication, Starwind, or something else?:

    May be better to to go with SW's Appliance then, if the cost comparison makes sense.

    It makes the choice between a) getting the appliance and b) getting the hardware myself and buying the Starwind VSAN stuff myself, very easy. The appliance is much better value.

    But buying the hardware (2 nodes) myself and just putting a free Hypervisor on there (Hyper-V or KVM) with replication would save a decent whack of money..


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    @doyler3000 said in Hyper-V replication, Starwind, or something else?:

    @obsolesce said in Hyper-V replication, Starwind, or something else?:

    @doyler3000 said in Hyper-V replication, Starwind, or something else?:

    I want to setup a resilient two node virtualisation host production system.

    So the goal is not for high-availability, but for host redundancy?

    If that's the case, two Hyper-V hosts with the built-in replication just works, and works well.

    Just keep in mind that going that direction, you could have between 30 seconds and 15 minutes of permanent data loss should you decide to spin up a replica if primary host dies. (unplanned fail-over)

    However, planned-failover is a nice to have if live migration isn't suitable.

    Being all Linux guests, no need to worry about licensing (so long as there's no software running on top of it with weird restrictions).

    Yes HA would be nice but I suspect we don't really need it. However when it's available (see what I did there?) for a price that doesn't break the budget then it becomes tempting.

    Here's the thing... it's basically free. Once you want the support from SW, it's free to have HA. If you want to do free Starwind, it's free. Basically, no matter what set of factors you go with, HA ends up being free within the context. It's not something you pay for (outside of the Vmware world.) So while it is important to understand it is a "nice to have", it's also important to remember that you should always get it and don't settle for less because it's always there for free.


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    @doyler3000 said in Hyper-V replication, Starwind, or something else?:

    But buying the hardware (2 nodes) myself and just putting a free Hypervisor on there (Hyper-V or KVM) with replication would save a decent whack of money..

    But in that situation, you can still do HA for free. Why do the lesser replication if the for the same cost you can do HA?



  • @doyler3000 said in Hyper-V replication, Starwind, or something else?:

    But buying the hardware (2 nodes) myself and just putting a free Hypervisor on there (Hyper-V or KVM) with replication would save a decent whack of money..

    Right, but then as you mentioned before this won't apply then:

    @doyler3000 said in Hyper-V replication, Starwind, or something else?:

    Yes that's how I've been trying to think about the appliance. Also since it comes with Active Support from Starwind, in theory my worry about less technical people having to support this when I'm away becomes less relevant. In fact, theoretically I would barely need to support it 🙂



  • I don't knwo what the cost differences are here in your situation or all the details, all options seem viable.



  • @scottalanmiller said in Hyper-V replication, Starwind, or something else?:

    @doyler3000 said in Hyper-V replication, Starwind, or something else?:

    But buying the hardware (2 nodes) myself and just putting a free Hypervisor on there (Hyper-V or KVM) with replication would save a decent whack of money..

    But in that situation, you can still do HA for free. Why do the lesser replication if the for the same cost you can do HA?

    Well I was working on the assumption that if I go the free route and I'm not paying for support then full HA will be more complicated and difficult to support (especially when I'm not around) than VM replication which for Hyper-V for instance seems to be almost just a click and forget sort of thing.