Editors Choice

Synology FlashStation FS2017 Review

SMBs that like the look of Synology’s FlashStation FS3017 all-flash storage array but balk at its near $10K price tag will find the latest FS2017 a more tempting proposition. By offering a lower hardware specification, Synology has been able to reduce the price of a diskless model by over $3,600.

Storage capacity stays the same as the FS2017 also offers 24 SFF hot-swap drive bays. And as with the FS3107, it scores over many blue-chip all-flash arrays by supporting low-cost SATA SSDs as well as SAS3 SSDs allowing business to balance costs with performance.

Processing power has been significantly reduced as the FS2107 sports an 8-core 2.1GHz D-1541 Xeon CPU accompanied by 16GB of DDR4 ECC RDIMM memory which can be boosted to 128GB. The more powerful FS3107 is endowed with dual 2.4GHz E5-2620 v3 Xeons while the 32GB of base DDR4 memory can be upgraded to a massive 512GB.

Cheaper expansion

Removing the lid reveals a pair of Synology SAS12G SAS3 storage controller cards cabled to the drive backplane and serving all bays. The FS3107 uses three LSI SAS 9300-8i PCI-Express adapter cards but the FS2017 scores better for its reduced expansion costs.

Both SAS12G cards have external SAS3 expansion ports but only the first can be used to connect up to two 12-bay RX1217sas or 24-bay RX2417sas disk shelves. The second port is labelled for manufacturing use only but this still allows the FS2017 to offer the same maximum capacity at no extra cost – the FS3107 requires Synology’s FXC17 SAS3 card which costs an uncomfortable $850.

Power redundancy is provided by dual 500W PSUs and the FS2017’s port count is actually better than the FS3107. Both have dual embedded 10GBase-T ports, but the FS2017 also has a quartet of Gigabit data ports.

IOPS on the money

Synology’s new RAID F1 feature addresses potential SSD wear and avoids simultaneous failures

For performance testing, we installed the same eight Kingston DC400 480GB SATA SSDs we used for our FS3107 review – also configured in a single RAID F1 array. Launched in DSM 6.1 and available across all of Synology’s business appliances, RAID F1 counteracts potential SSD wear by nominating one SSD to receive more parity bits than the rest to avoid simultaneous failures.

With a NAS share mapped to an HPE ProLiant DL380 Gen9 Windows server over a dedicated 10GbE connection, Iometer reported good sequential read and write I/O rates of 98,500 IOPS and 78,000 IOPS. Changing to a 100% random distribution saw read rates hold firm at 98,400 IOPS while write rates fell to 60,000 IOPS.

We found IP SAN performance to be good with a 500GB target returning sequential read and write I/O rates of 91,000 IOPS and 68,500 IOPS. Changing over to random operations saw read and write rates drop to 84,000 IOPS and 56,800 IOPS.

We also tested Synology’s claimed 90,000 IOPS for IP SAN random writes by using two Windows servers logged onto dedicated iSCSI targets. With Iometer running on both servers for two hours, we recorded a steady cumulative I/O throughput of 89,800 IOPS thus confirming Synology’s claims.

Now the bad news

Unfortunately, with great performance comes great noise as the appliance’s four hot-plug cooling fans are excessively loud. Even on the DSM ‘quiet’ fan mode, the SPLnFFT iOS app on our iPad measured sustained sound levels of 60dB from one metre in front of the appliance.

The ‘cool’ mode steps up fans speeds and sound levels increased to an annoying 66dB. If you add an extra network card in the spare PCI-Express slot, you’ll have to put up with this as DSM disables the ‘quiet’ mode.

The ‘full-speed’ mode will keep the appliance firmly in a dedicated server room as selecting this from the DSM Control Panel app had the fans shrieking at 77dB. However, a useful feature is the fans can be easily accessed from underneath a separate removable panel at the front of the lid so they can be replaced without powering the appliance down.

DSM and virtualization

Choose advanced iSCSI LUNs for features such as snapshots, VAAI, ODX, cloning and thin provisioning

With DSM 6.1 in the driving seat, the FS2017 offers plenty of storage virtualization features. It’s fully certified for VMware vSphere 6 and VAAI so supports features such as hardware assisted locking (atomic, test and set), full copy, full clone and thin provisioning.

The limited capacities of SSDs means the FS2017 isn’t a great choice as a central backup store but DSM does provide plenty of protection features for on-appliance data. The Snapshot Replication app manages snapshots of NAS shares and iSCSI LUNs which can be scheduled to run as often as every five minutes.

To protect iSCSI LUNS with snapshots and to enable VAAI, ODX and cloning support, you must select thin provisioning and the advanced options during their creation. Synology also provides Snapshot Manager plug-ins for VMware and Windows where the latter uses VSS on the host to create application consistent point-in-time snapshots.

Synology’s free Snapshot Manager plug-in provides application consistent snapshots for VMware and Windows hosts

LUN recovery is a cinch as you select a snapshot from the list and decide to restore in place or clone it with a new name and map it to an existing target or a new one. Shares and LUNs can also be replicated to remote Synology appliances using the Snapshot Replication app or copied using the Hyper Backup app.

Conclusion

With prices for a diskless model at around $6,299, the FlashStation FS2017 looks an affordable all-flash option for budget-conscious SMBs. The more modest hardware specification does result in a significantly lower performance than the FS3017 but it still posted quite respectable results in our I/O throughput tests.

Cooling could be better designed to reduce noise levels but it comes with plenty of network ports including dual 10GBase-T and its external SAS3 port makes it expansion-ready out of the box. And then there’s Synology’s DSM software which provides some of the best NAS and IP SAN storage features around.

8.2 Total Score
Synology Flashstation FS2017

With prices for a diskless model at around $6,299, the FlashStation FS2017 looks an affordable all-flash option for budget-conscious SMBs. The more modest hardware specification does result in a significantly lower performance than the FS3017 but it still posted quite respectable results in our I/O throughput tests. Cooling could be better designed to reduce noise levels but it comes with plenty of network ports including dual 10GBase-T and its external SAS3 port makes it expansion-ready out of the box. And then there’s Synology’s DSM software which provides some of the best NAS and IP SAN storage features around.

Performance
8
Features
9
Build Quality
7
Usability
8.5
Value
8.5
PROS
  • Good value
  • Supports SATA and SAS3 SSDs
  • Good random read/write performance
  • Excellent DSM 6.1 software
  • Storage expansion port included
CONS
  • Cooling fans far too noisy
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