This is not my normal blog post, but.. a while back someone from Synology contacted me and asked if I’d be interested in reviewing one of their devices. Having never used one before I asked a few questions about running virtual machines on it and was sent a 1621+ which could run a small VM as it only has 4GB RAM. I wasn’t sure what I could do with this for what I was looking to test (backup/DR, running Cloudbuilder and a virtual router), but I was given a promise of something larger in a few months time where I could run multiple larger VMs. That was last summer and the person who sent the device has left Synology and now I’ve gotten a follow up from another person looking for my review. I did use the 1621+ for a few things while I was waiting for something that, unfortunately never materialized. I’ll detail those here.
As I said, I’ve never used any of their stuff before. Plenty of friends and colleagues have spoken highly of them but I never had need of a NAS. I’ll say that I really like how Synology is put together, from the hardware and the software side. It came with “some assembly required” which made me feel a bit like I was building a PC again, something I haven’t done that in almost a decade at this point!
I created a single storage pool with the 2TB disks as RAID-0 for a total of 5.44 TB and shared it out via NFS. I then created the SSD Cache, the only option here was RAID-1, which makes sense. I do wish there was a single window that would show both of these things and how they are related.. the storage pool(s) and SSD Cache that is. There is something on the “volume” page to this effect but not as informative as I would like.
Then I downloaded the virtual machine manager and created a little Ubuntu Linux VM… easy enough, but what really impressed me was the vast array of software and services that were available to me. The biggest challenge was that I would have to decide, or choose only a handful of things as after creating my little VM, I was left with almost no memory.
At this point I decided, ok, that’s not really what this is supposed to do.. it’s a NAS after all.. lets test out the storage functionality. So I plugged in the 10GB’s to a couple of my servers direct.. because the 10GB switch I have makes enough noise that I’d need hearing protection. Again it was simple to configure the 10GB NIC on the Synology and it showed up as LAN 6
At first, it really cooked and I was hitting all the same benchmarks I normally do when deploying VMware Cloud Foundation. After a few hours I wasn’t getting a good cache Hit rate and then I filled up the cache. Performance became quite sluggish comparatively. There wasn’t an easy way to dump/reset the cache as you needed to make sure everything (including the VM I created before) was off the volume. I acknowledge that this isn’t a normal load for a NAS, but it is something that I do on a regular basis. I’m sure this is something a larger cache (not sure if this is possible) or SSD’s for the drives in the main volume would fix!
Since then it’s been happily running a VM that’s a BTC full node and some larger files and datasets that I have. I really like the way the software works, it’s easy to use and the performance of this configuration works well for someone that would host a NAS to server videos, music, storage for camera’s and that sort of thing. I hope to check out a larger version with faster drives that would allow me to play with more of the packages, and some VM and BC/DR scenarios I dreamt up!
Thank you for the opportunity @Synology!