Scalable storage powers cloud services provider

Monday, 14 March, 2016 | Supplied by: Synology Inc

Founded in 1986, The Digital Foundry (TDF) is an IT solutions provider in Sydney that specialises in infrastructure design and implementation, disaster recovery, systems support, application deployments and information security. It has 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, TDF Cloud Services, a separate entity, was established to concentrate on delivering the right services and products to hosted customers in the cloud.

TDF had been using a lot of built-in technologies with large hard drive arrays, which quickly became inflexible and uneconomical as their hosted services expanded. A new solution was needed, and the company chose Synology.

“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,” said Steve Gordon, TDF’s founding partner. “The Synology products offer us two things: the availability of business-grade functionality, and a reasonable price tag.”

TDF Cloud Services’ infrastructure comprised multiple VMware hosts with a large 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 data stores. Thanks to its comprehensive iSCSI support and VMware compatibility, since its deployment the RC18015xs+ has been the backbone of TDF’s large number of guest servers.

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 10 GbE infrastructure throughout this office. The performance results, the I/O tests, they were very, very quick.”

After some testing, he decided to replace the RS3614xs+ with two RC18015xs+ units. They worked together as a high-availability cluster but shared the same storage (expandable beyond 1 PB), eliminating the considerable costs of having to purchase two identical sets of storage units and hard drives. He also implemented the product’s built-in shared folder snapshot technology to further enhance data redundancy.

Besides the iSCSI solution, TDF had another Synology RS3614xs+ in place to offer WebDAV connectivity for its remote desktop services. Customers required 500 GB or 1 TB 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.

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, the company brought in two RS814+ platforms to perform secure, encrypted remote backups. The approach was both cost-effective and flexible, since more units could simply be added as the DR business grew. “The price point of RS814+ is so good — we can fill it with 6 TB hard drives and get a lot of storage,” said Gordon. “This allows us to have direct connecting points between clients and devices. We give them the encryption, the security and the isolation.”

Since its entry into hosted services, TDF’s infrastructure has grown from four to 46 servers, in which Synology products play a very large role. “They have enabled us to offer secure services, fast connectivity and a redundant environment,” said Gordon.

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