Is the Synology RS2818RP+ RackStation NAS what your Business needs?
Synology and their Rackmount NAS range have really been a roller coaster these last two years. The rackstation series from Synology a few years back was good, but in the eyes of industry did not compete with QNAP NAS. The main reason for this was first, the hardware on the Synology Rackstation range was only a fraction above what was available in their desktop NAS servers. The other reason was that in spite of a hefty pricetag, the software inside was not a bit leap from what was available from the diskstation series. However, all that changed back in 2015/6 when Synology REALLY invested heavily in this arena and we started to see both genuinely powerful hardware under the bonnet and some really exciting software (1st and 3rd party) options being brought to the table.
The result is that now they Synology Diskstation range really stands apart from QNAP and the latest rackmount NAS server to join this elite club is the Synology RS2818RP+. Arriving with all the hardware support you would want from your business class rackmount NAS, Software and support that is genuinely impressive. However, with the release of the technically superior 12-Bay Xeon based RS3618xs a month before, is this 16 Bay Intel Atom-based NAS punching above its weight? Let’s find out.
Once we removed this rather mammoth sized NAS from its packaging, what we find is just a handful of items. The accessories box provides us with the usual items you would expect for a Rackmount NAS:
Of course, the primary focus is the RS2818RP+ itself, which weighs a heck of alot! This 16 HDD/SSD Bay rackmount NAS arrives unpopulated and supports the latest hard drives all the way upto 12TB and 14TB. Likewise, the device does not require full-population and can be filled gradually with drives one by one as your budget allows
The hard drive trays are fairly understated and alongside supporting 3.5″ Hard drives, also support the installation of one or more SSDs. These can be used for general storage in your array or for improved Read and Write speeds via optimized SSD Cache enabling.
It is also worth noting that the individual trays are metal in design, feature individual LEDs that denote system use and access and also feature a locking mechanism built into the front.
As this is a rackmount device, the front is very imposing and handles can be applied to either side of the from the panel for ease of use (when sliding rails are applied). Also, the front panel features power and mute buttons as needed.
Once we look at the top of the chassis, we find a conveniently placed fan access point, that lets us remove the internal cooling fans for cleaning and/or replacement.
Then you can slide them out, like this.
Once we turn this bad boy around, we see too things – A LOT of ports and a whole lot of ventilation!
Focusing on the back of the Synology RS2818RP+, we see what the RP stands for in the name, namely Redundant Power. This NAS arrives with two PSU’s built in and this means that once you have both connected whilst the unit is in operation if one power supply fails, the other is there to continue powering the unit.
This means that you do not lose access to your data for even a 2nd and you are then able to get the PSU replaced if the unit is still in it’s 3 year warranty period, or you can purchase a replacement. Removal and re-introduction is very easy and the system will automatically adjust/resume as needed.
Along the enormous rear panel, amongst the big ventilated back panel we come across several ports and interfaces. There is a COM port, this allows you to introduce and include the device with your existing IOI systems and create a more cohesive environment with devices that support it
Next, we find not 1, not 2, not 8, but 4 LAN ports! These ports are LAG (link aggregation) enabled which means with a LAG or Port Trunking enabled switch, you are able to effectively quadruple your upload/download speeds within the device and between other link aggregated devices. You can of course just utilize a single LAN port if you like, but it is nice to have the option
Next, we find some USB 3.0 (USB 3.1 Gen 1) ports that allow you to connect traditionally localised storage such as USB Flash drives and external drives and make them network/internet accessible. You can also arrange the internal backup software to either backup select files/folders to external storage (to store offsite) or backup USB drives regularly to the NAS in select folders quickly and easily.
Also featured on this is support for expansions in the form of the RX1217 12 Bay expansion chassis This means that the 16 Bays available on the RS2818RP+ are not the end of the road even when their capacity is filled, as you can add an additional 12 Bays of storage and just add them to your existing RAID array or run it separately as a backup.
Finally, we can talk about the most interesting futureproofing port – a PCIe slot. This means that you are not limited to 1GBe via the LAN ports mentioned but can upgrade to 10Gbe over SFP+ (fiber, expensive) or 10GBASE-T (Copper, more cost-effective). That is not all though, there are a number of Synology and Third-Party hardware supported in this slot. For those interested in higher IOPS and improved internal performance (VMs, live file editing, etc) you can purchase the M2D17 or the even faster Synology M2D18 NVMe SSD cache upgrade card.
By removing a few screws from the rear, we are able to take a closer look at the internal hardware
Even a casual glance shows the big differences in chassis design between the Synology RS2818RP+ and a regular PC – but internally, the core components are very similar
One difference (common when looking at sever motherboards) is the choice of a large scale heat sink, rather than a CPU fan. Generally this is because the CPU used is often a much more power efficient CPU and a much more passive cooling system is available.
The Synology RS2818RP+ rackmount NAS features 4 Memory slots – which will be of massive benefit to those using this NAS for virtualization (VMs etc) and large scale surveillance.
For those that wondered how the server handles such large scale amounts of storage, looking at the flip side of the board, we find several SFF cables that are fed into controller ports. Each one handling 4 HDD/SSD bays each.
For those hoping for a big/powerful PCIe slot, bad news, it is a small scale port and this device only handles official Synology cards or supported 10Gbe/40Gbe and SSD Cache cards.
Synology RS2818RP+ Rackmount NAS Software and Applications
It is In the software that we really see how Synology have changed over the last 18months. Unsurprisingly, this enterprise lead device, featuring that Intel Quad Core CPU, easily handles multiple virtual machines, ISCSI targets, large scale surveillance and mass file storage in data centers.
It supports of the popular 3rd party software (licensed or free, depending on the software) such as VMware, Microsoft Storage Server, Milestone Surveillance and windows server 2012. However, it is in the area of first-party software that you see the potential to create a completely centralised data storage solution for your business.
Synology has really spent time working on their own CRM and CMS software, applications and utilities to help build a business around. This coupled with the ability to make your platform as network accessible as you choose, maintaining multiple layers of credentials, permissions, encryption and cloud access controls, you have to admire the attention to detail.
If you are considering the Synology RS2818RP+ server then you will be pleased to hear that the Synology Diskstation manager (DSM) features the following 1st party NAS utilities and applications:
- Extensive, yet user-friendly manager that gives you file control, folder control and the ability to create, control and share user groups with ease
- Storage manager that lets you create multiple data pools and RAID arrays. As well as letting you create SSD cached volumes and manage storage with ease. Likewise this software also lets you backup entire files, folders and volume structure in their entirety or via multiple snapshots.
- Virtual Machine manager let’s you create and manage multiple Windows, Linux or Android VMs with ease and without a paid third party VM manager
- Subscription based cloud backup and disaster recovery platform access, with Synology C2. A free trial is included.
- Synology Chat let’s all of your connected users be able to communicate, collaborate and share in real-time. With all communication maintained and recorded on the device
- Synology Mail gives you theeans to centralised your existing mail, as well as create and host your own complete mail server for your users
- Synology Calendar to create a company wide scheduling system that provides permission based access and alerts, as well as cross use with chat and mail clients
- Synology Surveillance Station is a complete CCTV control deck, giving you the ability to control, record from and retrieve surveillance footage from multiple IP cameras in your network environment. Alongside this there are enterprise i/o control, simultaneous recording and live feed, a multi tiered and multi-layered alert system covering SMS, Email and links with existing security systems.
- Synology Office provides a free and extensive word processing package that rivals that of Microsoft office and Google Docs.
All that software is included free, as well as including more home and SMB software such as Synology Moments to catalogue your photo albums and media archive, Synology Drive as your one-portal all file access point and more.
The Synology RS2818RP+ RackStation NAS – Conclusion
The Synology RS2818RP+ gives you excellent access to it all! Large user support, several hosted VMs, lots of cameras, maximum support of all DSM 6.2 applications. It’s still not the most powerful ever Synology rackmount (in case you wondered, RS18018xs) but at a price point that is very accessible to small/medium business, it is a really good contender for their best cost v hardware rackmount NAS for this year. Add to that the fact it arrives with 3 years of manufacturer’s warranty (that can be extended) and you are looking at a solid storage investment!