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Is it a NAS? Is it a SAN? No. It's Synology's Rackstation 'NASSAN'

620k IOPs and 144TB in flash-ready package for $10k? There must be a catch here...

High performance access to file storage

Today Synology launches the RackStation RS3614xs+, the latest addition to their XS+ line of devices aimed at SMEs. What sticks out to me is the shift in marketing tone, pitching the RS3614xs+ as "a midpoint between NAS and SAN".

Synology pitches the XS+ line as "a storage solution that can grow with a business." The RS3614xs+ is designed for scalability; it comes with twelve bays, but can be expanded to thirty-six by attaching optional expansion modules. With the expansions, it has a storage capacity of up to 144TB.

This particular XS+ comes with a 6GB/s SATA III interface. It has four gigabit Ethernet ports, as well as two Gen3 x8 PCIe slots which can each support a 10GbE NIC. Synology claims that with both PCIe ports populated, throughput can exceed 3,200MB/s. If the entire device is also stuffed with SSDs, apparently benchmarks of 620,000 IOPS are possible.

The RS3614xs+ ships with DiskStation Manager (DSM) 4.3. The DSM is one of the most user-friendly storage interfaces currently available. It has a complete HTML-5 WIMP implementation and comes with its own app store. "Little things" are well thought out: for example, the device can e-mail, SMS or even Skype you when it notices a problem.

Synology units are certified to support VMware, Citrix, or Hyper-V. It can serve files over SMB, AFP and NFS or fling blocks using iSCSI.

Let's stop and consider this for a second. The RS3614xs+ is shipping globally with a MSRP of $4999.99, however, if you want to kit it out with two expansion modules and a tool-less rail kit for quick installation, expect to spend about $10,000. Modern Synology systems are capable of High Availability; block-level replication between two units.

This means for $10,000-ish you can pick up a storage pair that can scale to 144TB per unit, can exceed 620,000 IOPS and you could physically shoot one of the nodes and the whole thing would continue working just fine.

x86-based Synology systems – of which the RS3614xs+ is one – can run your standard spinning rust, use SSDs as a read cache to make a hybrid system or go all flash. Even if you bought the things with all the blue crystals, getting a redundant pair of these for $20,000 is still better "bang for the buck" than just about anything else on the market.

With the specs ekeing their way upwards and the marketing efforts now positioning the unit as "a midpoint between NAS and SAN" I strongly suspect that the next revision of the DSM is going to bring some changes at Synology. A real shot at a full-scale SAN with proper enterprise support is probably not far behind.

The RS3614xs+ looks to be an impressive bit of kit; a far cry from the prosumer NASes upon which Synology built its name. The Register will certainly be keeping an eye out to see how this next generation of microSANs fares in the viciously competitive midrange storage market.

High performance access to file storage

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