It has been a while since I decided to splash out and get a NAS for myself. As I need to run loads of VMs both for work related purposes and for fun (it’s cool when we can combine work and fun, right?) it was a bit easier for me to justify significant costs. As my initial intent was to run VMs from NAS my choice criteria were 2x1Gb Ethernet interfaces and 4 bays for building array both for performance and redundancy. I was not able to did full and deep research due to time constraints (we all have to do this all too often these days) and stopped my choice on Synology DS415+ which meets previously mentioned criteria and as well has following strengths: complies with some industry standards/certifications for virtualization, has mature and feature reach software.
So finally I bought this thing:
Buying it in Russia was more expensive then buy it from Amazon and pay for delivery from US, but thanks to good friend of mine I was able to order it from German Amazon site and got it fast saving on delivery also 🙂 I also bought 6TB WD RED drive to use with it (and will add some more of those later, as they are pricey).
Quite useful video on choosing HDD drives for your NAS which helped me was “WD Red VS Seagate NAS Drives – with SPANTV”
After unpacking, installing and starting off using this thing I starting to realize what’s good and bad about having and using this thing. I will be adding details to this post by and by to share with other potential users of this.
Noise. You may always find reviews where they do measurements of noise level and give you some numbers for noise levels in decibels, but it is not telling you anything (or at least me). You may ever find YouTube videos sometimes where somebody switching on and off the device to give you idea about its noise level, which is a bit better. My experience: definitely not for your bedroom. Despite having 2 relatively silent fans and only one drive so far it’s noisy (a bit in a lumbering way, though maybe with more drives it will change tone of its noise 🙂 ) – definitely not something you may want to have in your bedroom or in silent environment when noise from this device becomes distinctive. it is also blinking from 2 sides – Ethernet ports LEDs and front LEDs (I wish I had software option to turn off all these lights, like I have in alternate firmware for my Wi-Fi router). So I moved it from my bedroom to some corner in the lobby and it’s OK now. And the side benefit from having NAS for me is that I finally get rid off HDDs in my desktop leaving only SSD drive in it – now it is truly silent PC 🙂 I do remember how much effort were necessary for building really silent PC but with SSD it’s finally silent for real (I have passive CPU and GPU cooling) – HDDs really slow and produce unpleasant noise especially because of vibration when case or furniture start to resonate – now it’s all solved with all data moved to NAS and NAS moved to the far corner in the lobby 🙂
Goodbye hard drives, data wiped and those can be re-purposed for something:
My home desktop which runs Windows 10 TP and scheduled for total rebuild now runs with SSD only (120 GB OCZ Vertex 4) which translates not only into silent PC but almost immediate start up (there is a bit of a delay due to old non UEFI BIOS and occasional warnings about stopped CPU fan, as I use passive cooling for it in the form of huge chunk of aluminium named Cooler Master Hyper Z600 🙂 ).
Link aggregation/Fail-Over. It’s all not as good in the end for me – my idea was to use Ethernet link aggregation for speed but there is 2 stumbling blocks – no Wi-Fi routers (even most expensive of them) doesn’t provide support for LACP (Link Aggregation Control Protocol) aka IEEE802.1AX and neither do cheap Gigabit switches (I need to research this more). And I also run out of ports on my router to connect 2nd Ethernet cable for NAS, so at the moment I’m unable to use Ethernet fail-over configuration (which is work with my network devices), but this is not very critical. UPDATE (09.01.2016): Starting from DSM 5.2 you can do link aggregation with ANY switch using Synology Adaptive Load Balancing feature (you may have a look at this post of mine for details, though you have to ignore overly optimistic test results described there 🙂 I verified and those are not right – just measurement error).
Standards/Cetifications claimed by Synology for DS415+. VMware Ready, Citrix Ready, Windows Server 2012 Certified, Windows Server 2012 R2 Certified.
VMware Ready means that it was tested by VMWare with ESXi 5.5 (5.5 U1/U2) with firmware v4503 in SW iSCSI configuration for VAAI-Block features, namely: Block Zero, Full Copy, HW Assisted Locking, Thin Provisioning.
iSCSI target. This is the thing you need to store your VMs 🙂 You can setup DS415+ to serve as block level or file level iSCSI target. Please refer to Synology documentation for further details: Best practices of using the Synology DiskStation to host iSCSI Storage
I will expand this post later when I clarify some things and got more experience with device.
How are the WD Red drives working for you in terms of speed for running VMs? I am looking to do the same thing. I would like to migrate my ESXi Server storage to the same NAS but I am worried about the speed. I know the Red drives are designed for NAS but not so much high performance and read/write intensive applications. Any feedback would be greatly appreciated.
Well my initial tests results (before adding link aggregation and even RAID) were not very bright for my use case: I.e. VM runs OK but startup/shutdown or snapshot restore operations were too slow for me after blazing fast internal SSDs… But in terms of doing something in/with started VM it was OK. I think I need to re-test this now when I’m added link aggregation and extra WD red drive to see how it perform. I’m also interesting to try block level LUN (can be even faster, but I’m unable to test this as it requires volume rebuild) and wondering about Synology ALB VS IEEE 802.3ad Dynamic Link Aggregation – this I can try as I have switch with support for the second option… If you have some specific scenario to try/test let me know – maybe I can verify it…
I just tried once again running VM directly from iSCSI volume hosted by my Synology box again. Now I have 2 6TB drives (WD60EFRX) and ALB enabled connected over gigabit switch – not on par with local SSD inside of my laptop (expected, no surprises here) but also not acceptable to me from performance/response POV (probably I’m spoiled by SSD speeds :)). Still there are things to try to improve performance LACP (should be better for iSCSI), block level iSCSI volume, WD Red Pro drives (faster read from the plate speeds + larger cache). If I haven’t used laptop I would also invest into server grade NIC with link aggregation support.\r\nWhat is also I discovered I’m lacking is video decoding power – HD movies are not “watchable” from this book on smart TV…