Those of you that know me and read my blog, know that I get to play with some really cool toys, especially when it comes to storage. Cisco MDS, Brocade, Nexus 5k FCoE, EMC CLARiiON and Celerra, Xiotech, 3Par, NetApp, etc. So when it came to choosing a storage device for my home lab it was very tough to compromise. Sure I could have gone out and bought a NetApp FAS940, FAS960 or FAS980. In fact, I almost did that. It would have been affordable (yes they are expensive, but when you consider what they use to retail for), would have provided a lot of features such as FC, iSCSI, CIFs, NFS, etc. But the reality is, for what I am trying to do, its not a good device!
I need storage to run my virtual environment, so basically that means VMFS. It takes a long time, longer than most people can imagine, to stand up such an environment, so RAID is very important. Also, although I like to spend a lot of time playing with cool storage, when it comes to my own lab and wanting to get work done, I just want something that works well and is efficient and fast. The Synology DS1010+ fit this bill nicely.
First, it supports numerous RAID levels. For someone like me, and what I am doing, the only I really consider is RAID5 and RAID6. I went with RAID5 without a proactive spare. I did this to maximize my storage space. I used 2TB drives, so this gives me 8TB of usable space. If a drive goes out (and yes one has already), then it’s basically game over, I am in degraded mode, which is very painful, and I overnight a new drive. Now that I have been through this once, I will get an RMA replacement from Seagate which I will use as a cold spare, and I have the best of all worlds. If I was a business in a production environment, then I would have gone RAID6 for sure (actually it depends on the applications, etc, but with a device like this with only 5 slots, RAID6 is the obvious choice for high reliability).
Another thing that is very nice about the DS1010+ is that it supports wireless! I have not done this yet, but you can buy a supported wireless USB dongle and connect this box up via wireless. This is a nice option to have if you ever plan on putting it in a part of the house where you do not have ethernet available. It is certainly a nice option to have and not something all manufacturers support. The Synology DS1010+ also has two Gigabit Ethernet ports which can either be provisioned separately or used as a LACP Port Channel. Being a Cisco guy I really liked this, and that is how I am using the ports, as one large 2GB pipe. You can also enable Jumbo frames, which i did so I have the pipe set to an MTU of 9000 so I can do large iSCSI, NFS, CIFs transfers.
The box runs fairly quiet and is of high quality construction. It has a nice black finish to it and the LEDs give good indication of what is going on with the status of the array.
The array supports expanding the cache memory as well. The system comes with 1GB of Cache Memory and can be expanded with a single module of either 1 or 2GB bringing the total to a maximum of 3GB of memory.
You can expand the storage of the DS1010+ by adding an optional 5-bay DX510 Expansion Unit to it. This is a pretty cool feature, giving you the ability to have 10 total bays! Synology has replaced the DS1010+ with a unit similar to the DS1010+, called the DS1511+ which allows the expansion of up to two DX510’s for a total of 15 drives! This unit also has a faster processor which results in faster reads and writes, and I believe its around the same price as the DS1010+ was, a little over $850.00. The carriers lock, which is another feature I like.
I could go on and on about all the features, but let me just run down a few things I really like. It supports Thin Provisioning, iSCSI, CIFS, NFS, Secure FTP, HTTP. In fact, you can install a ton of applications on this thing. It’s basically a fully fledged Linux OS. Check out all the Apps you can install! To summarize, databases, web server, mail server, content management systems, blog software, audio station, iTunes support, photo station, print server, it can even control IP video cameras. The software is definitely feature rich. Here is a data sheet on the DS1010+. It gives you command line support of the box, integrates with active directory and supports Apple Time Machine!
It’s not cheap, that’s a given but it performs extremely well. Check out how it did on the NAS Charts. I shopped quite a bit when looking at storage. I am real glad this array is on the VMware Hardware Compatibility List. I looked at many different storage units before pulling the trigger on this one. Thecus, QNAP, Cisco (which is QNAP rebranded) all were exceptional contenders. If you read reviews you will see very good stuff about Synology. If you have any questions about this unit or my experiences please let me know!