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VIDEOS: Bad backups is a nasty sin, repent with Synology NAS backup

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Synology’s newest backup solutions promise high-availability, massive scalability, uncompromising reliability and instant, granular recovery.

Face it: everyone’s a backup expert after the fact of a crash where backups weren’t done or didn’t work, but in the modern era, extended downtime is lethal to company operations, and it is far better to be an expert well before the fact.

So, with backups and the ability to restore data so incredibly crucial, it’s clear that a company’s IT staff have multiple backup mechanisms in place to cover any contingency - a combination of offline, online and physical mediums spanning disk and tape.

Of course, much will depend on the size of the business as to how many backup technologies are used, for each adds cost and complexity to both backup and restoration testing scenarios, but that’s a decision companies will make for themselves to ensure rapid service restoration in the event of service interruption.

Synology bills itself as a leader in next-generation Network Attached Storage (NAS) servers, and naturally has solutions it wants businesses to know about, including its new RC18015xs+ and RXD1215sas storage solution.

Additional background on Synology is that it offers network attached storage and IP surveillance solutions ‘that transform the way users manage data and conduct surveillance in the cloud era’, taking ‘full advantage of the latest technologies to help users centralise data storage and backup, share files on-the-go, and implement professional surveillance solutions in reliable and affordable ways.’

To celebrate the launch of its new storage solution, Synology held a discussion between the media, Michael Wang, Synology Global Product Manager for Enterprise Solutions, and Synology channel partner representatives from Silicon Memory (a distributor) and The Digital Foundry (a reseller/cloud service provider), taking about the storage industry including evolving storage demands from IT decision makers, the role of channel players in the storage market, and how cloud providers like The Digital Foundry are coping with storage needs of different businesses.

I was unfortunately a little late to the media briefing, so I missed some of the initial presentation, although I was sent a PDF with the slides that were discussed.

I did, however, make a video of Synology’s product demonstration, and then a second video of the Q&A session following the demo, both of which are embedded below towards the end of this article.

In the presentation, Synology noted its status as a leading NAS brand, with 3.1 million units sold worldwide, 75% revenue grown in Australia over the past 3 years, and 80% revenue growth for enterprise rack models in 2014.

In terms of the demands of cloud service and storage, Synology pointed to IDC’s April 2014 report entitled ‘The Digital Universe of Opportunities’ which stated that ‘The measure of all digital data created, replicated and consumed in a single year globally will be 44 Zettabytes in 2020’.

This is up from 4.4 Zettabytes in 2013, with a one zettabyte being a whopping 1,000,000,000,000 gigabytes - a trillion gigabytes.

Synology’s presentation also spoke about challenges around cloud development, quoting November 2014 Gartner stats showing 66% of Australian CIOs not keeping up, service downtime being lethal to company operation, sudden changes to IaaS services being a burden to businesses and the high costs of keeping cybersecurity up to date and active to defend and protect against hacking, cyber theft, data encryption, system safety and the installation of updates.

There are also issues around efficient data backup, whereby data protection is not comprehensive without proper backups alongside the efficient use of storage capacity being essential to budget control.

This is naturally where Synology says its products and services can help, and after going through a range of technical detail which we’ll cover in a moment, the company made sure to emphasise that its backup technologies have a low impact to performance meaning no massive disk I/O and network usage, offer intensive backups with one snapshot in every 5 minutes and deliver instant restoration.

The next slide highlighted instant and granular recovery, whereby a complete recovery can take place in second instead of hours, with restoration able to take place in place or cloned to a new drive, right down to file or folder level restoration with the ability to browse files before restoring and restoring a single file or folder rather than the lot. 
So, what are Synology’s new devices that can deliver all these features and benefits?

They are the RC18015xs+ and RXD1215sas, billed as ‘high-availability server solution featuring massive scalability, superior performance, and point-in-time data backup for enterprises.’

The aforementioned Michael Wang, Synology Product Manager said: “For today’s businesses, maintaining server uptime is the key to ensuring maximum productivity and minimised costs.

“The high-availability cluster design of RC18015xs+ and RXD1215sas is the most ideal storage solution for enterprises seeking nonstop business continuity, scalability, and comprehensive data protection tools.”

Here are the ‘state-of-the-art’ features Synology says its storage devices deliver:

  • High-availability cluster design: By combining two computing servers and multiple storage units into a single high-availability cluster, RC18015xs+ and RXD1215sas deliver unyielding reliability and data availability. With the active/passive structure, services are automatically switched over to one server if the other unexpectedly goes offline.
  • Massive scalability up to 180 drives/1PB with RXD1215sas: Up to fifteen RXD1215sas can be connected to the dual RC18015xs+ computing nodes, accommodating massive scalability up to 180 drives and maximum raw storage beyond 1PB.
  • Snapshot technology brings point-in-time data recovery: RC18015xs+ brings snapshot technology, allowing businesses to automatically capture point-in-time copies of data as frequently as every five minutes without occupying system resources and customise the retention policy to save up to 256 hourly, daily, or weekly recovery points.
  • Next generation storage efficiency: RC18015xs+ introduces Btrfs file system, bringing comprehensive quota control on all shared folders and user accounts as well as the built-in data integrity check.
  • Synology says both devices also ‘feature superior performance of over 2,270 MB/s throughput and 355,400 IOPS, 8GB ECC RAM (upgradeable up to 32GB), one PCI Express 3.0 x8 slot for installation of one 10GbE network interface card (NIC), as well as redundant hardware mechanisms — such as SAS modules, SAS connection cables, power supply units — to eliminate single points of failure.’

They are both also backed by the company’s ‘5-year warranty and Synology Replacement Services (SRS) for select regions.’

Here’s the Synology demo recorded after the presentation showing data restoration at work:

As a demo in front of the watching media, it could have gone a little more smoothly, but that's the fun of life demos. No doubt Synology will give potential and current customers plenty of opportunity to test the robustness of Synology's data recovery claims and capabilities.  

Also - it’s not just hardware that’s important, however - the operating system is too, with both devices powered by DiskStation Manager (DSM).

Synology states these are ‘the most advanced and intuitive web-based operating system for network-attached storage, providing a host of applications to bring better productivity to work. Synology was voted as “PC Mag Business Choice Award winner” and received the highest rating in every element of the survey, including reliability, overall satisfaction, value, and likelihood to recommend.’

Both are now shipping globally, with the two technologies designed to work as a high-availability cluster. Synology states that ‘two RC18015xs+ and at least one RXD1215sas expansion unit are required to operate normally.’

Pricing for the complete set which features 2 x RC18015xs+ and 1 x RXD121sas starts from $14,000.

Individual RXD1215sas units can only be purchased as expansions to the complete set.

Pricing for the RC18015xs+ (controller) starts from AU$4,800 and pricing for RXD1215sas starts from AU$4,400.

Here is the Q&A session following the video shown above:

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Alex Zaharov-Reutt

One of Australia’s best-known technology journalists and consumer tech experts, Alex has appeared in his capacity as technology expert on all of Australia’s free-to-air and pay TV networks on all the major news and current affairs programs, on commercial and public radio, and technology, lifestyle and reality TV shows. Visit Alex at Twitter here.

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