Software Defined Storage

StarWind HCI Evaluation Kit Released: Config Walkthrough

It is not often that you can fully try out an entire solution from a vendor in your own lab environment with all the management tools to get the full experience. StarWind is doing something unique and extremely cool with their StarWind HCI solution. They are providing a download of something they are calling the StarWind HCI Evaluation Kit. What is the StarWind HCI Evaluation Kit? How do you deploy it and use it to evaluate the StarWind HCI solution? Let’s look at StarWind HCI Evaluation Kit Released: config walkthrough to find out.

What is StarWind HCI Evaluation Kit?

StartWind’s HCI Evaluation Kit is a great option for trying out the StarWind HCI solution. While the evaluation kit works on either a physical host or virtual machine, for most, the beauty of the solution is going to be trying this out in a VM. When deployed in a virtual machine, the StarWind solution uses a “nested” virtualization environment. What is a nested environment? A nested environment means you are running a hypervisor inside a virtual machine. In this case, StarWind is making use of Windows Server 2019 Hyper-V to deploy a nested environment.

The Windows Server 2019 virtual machine has the Hyper-V role installed and deploys the required components on the VM to allow evaluating the StarWind HCI solution, including deploying StarWind Command Center. Let’s dive into the included components, prerequisites, and system requirements

Installed components

  • Windows Server 2019 Evaluation
  • Ubuntu Linux 16.04
  • StarWind Virtual SAN
  • StarWind Command Center

Prerequisites

  • Windows Server 2019 host (physical or virtual using nested virtualization)
  • Hyper-V role installed

System requirements

  • 60 GB or 110GB of free space (this depends on the option you choose for the StarWind HCI Evaluation, single or two-node configuration
  • 14 GB of free RAM on the hypervisor host (single-node), or 24 GB (two-node configuration)

StarWind HCI Evaluation Kit Released: Config Walkthrough

Let’s take a look at the StarWind HCI Evaluation Kit config walkthrough and see how you spin up the environment. First things first, I spun up a Windows Server 2019 virtual machine in my vSphere environment and installed the Hyper-V role.

Installing hyper v role in windows server 2019
Installing hyper v role in windows server 2019

You will need to create an External virtual switch in Hyper-V. You can do this in the Hyper-V manager console.

Create an external vswitch in hyper v
Create an external vswitch in hyper v

You will need to download the StarWind HCI Evaluation Kit. You can do that by visiting the site here:

Sign-up using a business email address and you will be emailed the links for downloading the appliance as well as a license key for the Evaluation. After downloading and unzipping the StarWind HCI Evaluation Kit, you will see a bundle of BIN files and an executable. Run the exe to get started deploying the StarWind HCI Evaluation Kit.

Downloaded and unzipped the starwind files needed for the hci evaluation kit
Downloaded and unzipped the starwind files needed for the hci evaluation kit

Running the installation basically installs the first VM in the environment. This is the Ubuntu VM that will run the web-based management UI for deploying the rest of the solution. This is a simple “next, next, finish” install.

Setting up the evaluation kit vm
Setting up the evaluation kit vm
Choose the installation directory
Choose the installation directory
Ready to install the evaluation kit
Ready to install the evaluation kit
Creating the starwind management vm as part of the process
Creating the starwind management vm as part of the process
Completing the setup of the starwind hci evaluation kit
Completing the setup of the starwind hci evaluation kit

If you take a look at the Hyper-V Management console now, you will see the StarWind HCI Evaluation VM created and ready to be powered on.

Starwind hci evaluation kit vm created
Starwind hci evaluation kit vm created

Power on the appliance.

Ready to start the starwind hci evaluation vm
Ready to start the starwind hci evaluation vm

As you can see, this is an Ubuntu VM. Once the VM fully boots, it will display your IP for the web console picked up from DHCP.

Booting the ubuntu starwind hci evaluation vm
Booting the ubuntu starwind hci evaluation vm

Running through the configuration of the StarWind Evaluation Kit

Once you browse out in a web browser to the StarWind HCI Evaluation Kit URL, you will see the management dashboard presented.

Navigating to the web managmeent console of the evaluation kit vm
Navigating to the web managmeent console of the evaluation kit vm

The Welcome screen shows the components and prerequisites as we described earlier.

Welcome page of the hci evaluation kit
Welcome page of the hci evaluation kit

Accept the EULA.

Accept the eula
Accept the eula

On the hypervisor settings, fill in the information for the Windows Server 2019 Hyper-V host. One little detail is you need to create the directory it uses, even if you accept the default path as shown below. If you don’t, it will error out.

Configuring the hypervisor settings
Configuring the hypervisor settings

Select your deployment size. StarWind shows you the resource requirements for each option you select.

Choose your deployment size
Choose your deployment size

Have your StarWind HCI Evaluation license downloaded and handy. On this screen you will upload the license file.

Upload your license file
Upload your license file

Configure your network settings. It will prepopulate the screen with the External virtual switch. Choose a cluster name.

Configure your network settings
Configure your network settings

Select the Guest OS image. You can have StarWind download the Windows Server 2019 Evaluation media for you or if you have this available, you can upload it. A note here. You can’t use LTSC media that you may already have downloaded. It expects the Evaluation media and will error out if you use something else.

Configuring the guest os media
Configuring the guest os media

After downloading, it will import the guest OS ISO.

Importing the guest os
Importing the guest os

Import process completes successfully.

Os image successfully downloaded
Os image successfully downloaded

The Summary screen showing the options configured.

Verify the configuration for the starwind hci evaluation kit deployment
Verify the configuration for the starwind hci evaluation kit deployment

The installation completes successfully.

Installation progress complete
Installation progress complete

On the installation completed screen, you can view the readme file. Once you click Close, StarWind Command Center launches automatically.

View the readme and launch the starwind command center
View the readme and launch the starwind command center

Use the following credentials to login:

Login: demo
Password: demo

Concluding

StarWind is just one of those cool companies that empowers customers and prospective customers to try out their solutions thoroughly. The StarWind HCI Evaluation Kit is a great way to quickly experience the StarWind HCI solution in an automated way. With just a few clicks and the time to allow the automated installer and provisioning to do the trick, you can have a fully functioning StarWind HCI environment up and running in no time and in a nested environment, which is great.

Download the StarWind HCI Evaluation Kit here.

Check out my other StarWind posts:

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Brandon Lee

Brandon Lee is the Senior Writer, Engineer and owner at Virtualizationhowto.com and has over two decades of experience in Information Technology. Having worked for numerous Fortune 500 companies as well as in various industries, Brandon has extensive experience in various IT segments and is a strong advocate for open source technologies. Brandon holds many industry certifications, loves the outdoors and spending time with family.

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