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Cover-161124-Sitex-2016

Synology Case Study: The Digital Foundry
Tuesday, 16 February 2016 00:00

The Digital Foundry

160216-TDF

Recommended Models:

  • RC18015xs+
  • RS3614xs+
  • RS3411RPxs
  • RS814+

Recommended Features

  • Comprehensive iSCSI support for VMware storage
  • High availability and snapshot protection
  • Secure, cost-effective remote backup

“There were a couple of other brands we looked at, and they just didn’t have the ability to do what Synology products did from the ground up. Synology has enabled us to offer secure services, fast connectivity, and redundant environment.”
Steve Gordon, founding partner, The Digital Foundry

The Company

Founded in 1986, The Digital Foundry (TDF) is a premier IT solutions provider in Sydney that specialises in infrastructure design and implementation, disaster recovery, systems support, application deployments, and information security. It has over 400 clients from a wide range of industries – in particular legal, financial, hospitality, and construction – and provides support not only in Australia but also New Zealand, Singapore, Canada, and China. In 2013, the TDF Cloud Services, a separate entity, was established to concentrate on delivering the right services and products to hosted customers in the cloud.

The Challenge

Prior to Synology, the company used a lot of built-in technologies with large hard-drive arrays, which quickly became inflexible and uneconomical as their hosted services expanded. “There were a couple of other brands we looked at, and they just didn’t have the ability to do what Synology did from the ground up,” Steve Gordon, TDF’s founding partner, recalled the time when the company had made the move to Synology. “The Synology products offer us two things: the availability of business-grade functionality, and a reasonable price tag.”

The Solution

High performance, full iSCSI support enabled cloud hosting services

TDF Cloud Services’ infrastructure comprised multiple VMware hosts with an exceptional amount of guest server operating systems. Almost all services of the company ran on virtual machines for which Synology’s RC18015xs+ hosted iSCSI LUNs as VMware datastores. Thanks to its comprehensive iSCSI support and VMware compatibility, since its deployment, the RC18015xs+ had been the backbone of TDF’s large number of guest servers.

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System and data protection through high availability and snapshot technology

This specific product was brought in during TDF’s search for a way to strengthen system redundancy. “When the RC18015xs+ was announced, we thought, ‘this is what we need,’ because it gives us that redundancy,” said Gordon. “And that thing was fast. We have 10GbE infrastructure throughout this office. The 10GbE iSCSI into it – the performance results, the I/O tests, they were very, very quick.” After some testing, he decided to replace their original RS3614xs+ with two RC18015xs+: they worked together as a high-availability cluster but shared the same storage (expandable beyond 1 petabyte), eliminating the considerable costs of having to purchase two identical sets of storage units and hard drives. He also implemented RC18015xs+’ built-in shared folder snapshot technology to further enhance data redundancy.

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Remote desktop services using Synology’s WebDAV connectivity

Besides the iSCSI solution, TDF had another Synology RS3614xs+ in place to offer WebDAV connectivity for their remote desktop services. Customers required 500GB or 1TB of drive space, so the TDF Cloud connected directly to RS3614xs+ through WebDAV, bringing physical drives into the virtual space. An additional RS3411RPxs served as a remote backup and disaster recovery point for TDF Cloud Services’ infrastructure.

Secure, cost-effective disaster recovery service for on-premise solutions

TDF was also a service provider of on-premise solutions, and hosted Synology products on client sites. To develop disaster recovery capability for over 80 such customers as well as for TDF Cloud Services, they brought in two RS814+ to perform secure, encrypted remote backups. The approach was both cost-effective and flexible, since more RS814+ could simply be added as the DR business grew. “The price point of RS814+ is so good – we can fill it with 6TB hard drives and get a lot of storage,” added Gordon. “This allows us to have direct connecting points between clients and devices. We give them the encryption, the security, and the isolation.”

The Benefits

The same user experience across all product lines

Since its entry into hosted services, TDF’s infrastructure has grown from 4 to 46 servers, in which Synology products play a very large role. “They have enabled us to offer secure services, fast connectivity, and redundant environment,” says Gordon. As a long-time system integrator, the best part of Synology for him is that one can have the same experience from the consumer grade through to the business grade product. Although individual features may differ, the interface remains the same. He comments on the significance from past experience: “You look at some other products – every interface was different for different product line-ups, making it really hard to get a grip on what is going on. You are just like, ‘how do I manage this?’”

Continuous support and expansion possibility even for older units

Gordon is also impressed by the efforts Synology has put into in maintaining a solution that would continue to be compatible throughout the model line-up. “The fact that I can add an expansion unit to older units, 3 models below, shows that the compatibility chain has maintained,” he points out. “We saw the problem with a lot of other vendors: you sell a product, and in less than a year it is succeeded. In most cases, that means the end of life, the end of support, and the end of usefulness of the product which this customer purchased. It isn't the case with Synology.”

 

 

 

 

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