November 07, 2011, 6:06 AM — My lab is dotted with Synology NAS devices providing a wide array of services, from disk-based backup to general file sharing to shared storage for small virtualization build-outs. In all the years I've had these boxes spinning, they've never once let me down. In fact, I have a four-year-old Synology DS409 that is still performing perfectly. It hasn't lost a disk yet.
When reviewing storage devices, that's always the hardest part -- trying to gauge the longevity of a product without having a year or so to test. Since I've been running these units for many years now, I can attest to their durability. Synology has produced some exemplary small-business and consumer-grade NAS devices.
[ Also on InfoWorld: "NAS shoot-out: 5 storage servers battle for business." Five- and six-bay NAS cabinets from Iomega, Netgear, QNAP, Synology, and Thecus compete on speed, ease, and business features. | Watch Paul Venezia and Matt Prigge chat about virtualization networking in this Shop Talk video. ]
But I've always been a bit disappointed with Synology's higher-end offerings. They run the same capable OS as their smaller counterparts, but none have quite achieved my vision of the sweet spot for midrange production storage. That vision includes at least eight spindles (preferably 10), redundant power, higher-end CPU and RAM resources, all bundled in a nice rack-mount case. Synology has come close with devices like the RS810+, but that had only four internal spindles with an optional four-spindle expansion unit cabled off on a single eSATA connection -- close, but not quite all the way there.
Synology RackStation: Swiss Army storage server Synology has finally hit that sweet spot with the RackStation RS3411RPxs. This is a 2U rack-mount storage array that offers 10 spindles, multiple 1GbE and even 10GbE network interfaces, redundant power, and a dual-core 3.1GHz Intel Core i3 CPU with 2GB of DDR3 RAM. That's some serious power for a $4,999 storage array.
The unit is sleek, trim, and easily racked and cabled. It pulls a DHCP address by default and is managed via a Web UI. It supports 3TB disks, so you can squeeze 30TB raw into that 2U space and use RAID 5, 6, or 10 to increase either reliability or performance. You can configure hot spares to jump into action should a disk fail. There's also a Synology Assistant app that runs on Windows or Mac that can locate a unit on the local subnet and perform rudimentary configuration steps.