Software Defined Storage

DIY fibre channel SAN with High Availability using StarWind VSAN

Many organizations have long used fibre channel as their preferred storage platform of choice. While iSCSI and other protocols have dominated markets over the past decade or so, fibre channel is still alive and prevalent in many enterprise datacenters. Many organizations have large investments in fibre channel infrastructure. However, in order to make storage highly available, organizations need to buy new fibre channel hardware or invest in new infrastructure that supports newer protocols such as iSCSI, NVMe-oF, or iSER. Let’s take a look at how with StarWind businesses can have a DIY fibre channel SAN that is able to meet high-availability demands without ripping and replacing existing fibre channel infrastructure.

What is fibre channel (FC)?

Fibre Channel is a high-speed data transfer protocol that provides secure and reliable access to raw block storage. It supports the point-to-point connection of fibre channel storage between devices. It also provides connectivity via switched fabric (via Fibre Channel switches). You can build a dedicated fibre channel network dedicated and used for storage connectivity between shared storage and servers (SAN).

Traditional fibre channel design may lack high-availability

Traditionally, many organizations who have fibre channel in their environment may have run workloads on a single fibre channel SAN. Today, workloads demand high availability and many/most require 24/7/365 uptime.

Shared storage between hypervisor hosts must be engineered to handle failures that rules out running a single SAN in your storage environment. Storage must have the scalability and availability that meets current and future business demands. New compute nodes must have fibre channel HBAs and the ability to connect to the existing fibre channel environment using the fibre channel switches. Investing further into the fibre channel switches, adding additional costs.

A traditionally architected fibre channel configuration may look like the below. As you can see in the diagram, a single fibre channel SAN results in a single point of failure.

Traditional high availability challenges with fibre channel
Traditional high availability challenges with fibre channel (image courtesy of StarWind)

While the traditional 3-2-1 storage topology has been used in datacenter storage builds for decades now, including fibre channel, it is growing “long in the tooth” and introduces the risk of having all your “eggs in one basket” when it comes to your data. A much safer approach is having your data synchronized and not tied to a single physical appliance.

StarWind Fibre Channel Storage Solution

With the tremendous investment that many organizations have in their existing fibre channel infrastructure, it may be extremely costly to rip and replace everything for a new storage infrastructure solution. Additionally, to achieve the high availability needed by today’s business-critical workloads, storage needs to be highly available. StarWind VSAN provides a fibre channel storage solution that allows effectively having a DIY fibre channel SAN that hooks into your existing fibre channel infrastructure, switches, etc, and can provide shared storage for your business-critical workloads.

First of all, what is StarWind VSAN? VSAN from StarWind is software-defined storage (SDS) solution created for organizations with limited budgets and achieving performance without breaking the bank. It pulls close to 100% of IOPS from existing hardware, ensures high availability and fault tolerance, with only two nodes. Using the StarWind replication technology, organizations can have a truly two-node VSAN configuration without the need for a witness host. StarWind VSAN is a hypervisor and hardware agnostic solution. It provides the benefits of removing hardware or vendor-imposed restrictions and allows provisioning DIY storage that fits your business needs.

StarWind VSAN provides a cost effective DIY fibre channel SAN solution
StarWind VSAN provides a cost-effective DIY fibre channel SAN solution (Image courtesy of StarWind

When it comes to fibre channel, StarWind VSAN introduces the ability to share Highly Available storage for applications and VMs using existing fibre channel infrastructure. It also provides the ability to scale using other storage protocols and not be limited to using only fibre channel. Without major rip and replace restructuring, StarWind allows businesses to make use of their existing fibre channel infrastructure they have invested in while at the same time introducing the flexibility to use other storage protocols when scaling storage.

StarWind provides flexibility and options

One of the great things I like about StarWind is the flexibility and options their solutions give businesses. They have really great hardware and software-based offerings that provide a great balance of price and value for customers. The flexibility StarWind VSAN gives for organizations currently using fibre channel is great. StarWind solutions add the high availability needed for traditional fibre channel environments as a drop-in storage platform that can work with fibre channel and any other storage protocol you decide to use in the future.

Check out the official StarWind fibre channel (FC solution page here:

Take a look at other StarWind coverage here:

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Brandon Lee

Brandon Lee is the Senior Writer, Engineer and owner at 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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