Recently I needed to upgrade and replace my storage system which provides basic SMB dump file services, iSCSI, and NFS to my internal network and vSphere cluster. As most of you know, in the past I have traditionally created and configured my own storage systems. For the most part this has worked fantastic, especially with the NFS and iSCSI target services being provided and built in to the Linux OS (iSCSI thanks to Lio-Target).
A few reasons for the upgrade: 1) I need more storage, and 2) I need a pre-packaged product that comes with warranty. Taking care of the storage size was easy (buy more drives), however I needed to find a pre-packaged product that fits my requirements for performance, capabilities, stability, support, and of course warranty. iSCSI and NFS support was an absolute must!
Some time ago, when I first started working with Lio-Target before it was incorporated and merged in to the linux kernel, I noticed that the parent company Rising Tide Systems mentioned they also provided the target for numerous NAS and SAN devices available on the market, Synology being one of them. I never thought anything of this as back then I wasn’t interesting in purchasing a pre-packaged product, until my search for a new storage system.
Upon researching, I found that Synology released their 2013 line of products. These products had a focus on vSphere compatibility, performance, and redundant network connections (either through Trunking/Link aggregation, or MPIO iSCSI connections).
The device that caught my attention for my purpose was the DS1813+.
Synology DS1813+ Specifications:
- CPU Frequency : Dual Core 2.13GHz
- Floating Point
- Memory : DDR3 2GB (Expandable, up to 4GB)
- Internal HDD/SSD : 3.5″ or 2.5″ SATA(II) X 8 (Hard drive not included)
- Max Internal Capacity : 32TB (8 X 4TB HDD) (Capacity may vary by RAID types) (See All Supported HDD)
- Hot Swappable HDD
- External HDD Interface : USB 3.0 Port X 2, USB 2.0 Port X 4, eSATA Port X 2
- Size (HxWxD) : 157 X 340 X 233 mm
- Weight : 5.21kg
- LAN : Gigabit X 4
- Link Aggregation
- Wake on LAN/WAN
- System Fan : 120x120mm X2
- Easy Replacement System Fan
- Wireless Support (dongle)
- Noise Level : 24.1 dB(A)
- Power Recovery
- Power Supply : 250W
- AC Input Power Voltage : 100V to 240V AC
- Power Frequency : 50/60 Hz, Single Phase
- Power Consumption : 75.19W (Access); 34.12W (HDD Hibernation);
- Operating Temperature : 5°C to 35°C (40°F to 95°F)
- Storage Temperature : -10°C to 70°C (15°F to 155°F)
- Relative Humidity : 5% to 95% RH
- Maximum Operating Altitude : 6,500 feet
- Certification : FCC Class B, CE Class B, BSMI Class B
- Warranty : 3 Years
This puppy has 4 gigabit LAN ports, and 8 SATA bays. There’s tons of reviews on the internet praising Synology, and their DSM operating system (based on embedded linux) on the internet, so I decided to live dangerously and went ahead and placed an order for this device, along with 8 X Seagate 3TB Barracuda drives.
Unfortunately, it’s extremely difficult to get your hands on a DS1813+ in Canada (I’m not sure why). After numerous orders placed and cancelled with numerous companies, I finally found a distributor who was able to get me one. I’ll just say the wait was totally worth it. Initially I also purchased the 2GB RAM add-on as well, so I had this available when the DS1813+ arrived.
I was hoping to take a bunch of pictures, and do thorough testing with the unit before throwing it in to production, however right from the get go, it was extremely easy to configure and use, so right away I had it running in production. Sorry for the lack of pics! 🙂
I did however get a chance to setup the 8 drives in RAID 5, and configured an iSCSI block based target. The performance was fantastic, no problems whatsoever. Even maxing out one gigabit connection, the resources of the unit were barely touched.
I’m VERY impressed with the DSM operating system. Everything is clearly spelled out, and you have very detailed control of the device and all services. Configuration of SMB shares, iSCSI targets, and NFS exports is extremely simple, yet allows you to configure advanced features.
After testing out the iSCSI performance, I decided to get the unit ready for production. I created 2 shared folders, and exported these via NFS to my ESXi hosts. It was very simple, quick, and the ESXi hosts had absolutely no problems connecting to the exports.
One thing that really blew me away about this unit, is the performance. Immediately after configuring the NFS exports, mounting them and using Storage vMotion to migrate 14 live virtual machines to the DS1813+ I noticed MASSIVE performance gains. The performance gains were so large, it put my old custom storage system to shame. And this is really interesting, considering my old storage system, while custom, is actually spec’d way higher then the storage unit (CPU, RAM, and the SATA controller). I’m assuming the DS1813+ has numerous kernel optimizations for storage, and at the same time does not have the overhead of a fully Linux distribution. This also means it’s more stable since you don’t have tons of applications running in the background that you don’t need.
After migrating the VMs I noticed that the virtual machines were running way faster, and were may more responsive. I’m assuming this is due to increased IOPS.
Either way I’m extremely happy with the device and fully recommend it. I’ll be posting more blog articles later detailing configuration of services in detail such as iSCSI, NFS, and some other things. I’m already planning on picking up an additional DS1513+ (5 bay unit) to act as a storage server for VM backups which I perform using GhettoVCB.
Update – August 16, 2019: Please see these additional posts regarding performance and optimization: