Synology DiskStation DS3611xs

  • Editors' rating
    8.0 Excellent
  • $3,499.99

Pros

  • Dual-core processor
  • Up to 8GB ECC RAM
  • Twelve hot-swap drive bays
  • InfiniBand expansion
  • Four Gigabit LAN ports
  • Optional 10GbE Ethernet
  • Intuitive graphical management interface

Cons

  • Restricted access to internal components
  • Single power supply
  • Link aggregation required to fully exploit multiple interfaces
  • No SAS or SATA III support

With its dual-core processor, up to 8GB of RAM and four Gigabit Ethernet ports, the new DiskStation DS3611xs from Synology is a lot more server-like than your average storage appliance. It can even be expanded and equipped with 10GbE to deliver ultra-fast iSCSI access to up to 100TB of storage, putting it firmly into the mid-range as far as storage appliances go. And yet it's remarkably easy to manage and a lot more affordable than others in the sector.

The DS3611xs is housed in a robust all-metal chassis that houses a compact motherboard with its Intel Core i3 processor. The motherboard is tucked away, making maintenance far from easy should you want to expand the 2GB of RAM that's fitted as standard.

The storage is a lot more accessible, with 12 hot-swap drive bays sitting front and centre. Access to the bays is now protected by a key lock (a long-overdue enhancement), with metal carriers to take SATA disks that, as with other Synology appliances, can be more or less any make or capacity up to 3TB in either 3.5in. or 2.5in. format.

This arrangement delivers a maximum capacity of 36TB, although that can be increased by adding one or two DX1211 expansion units (£750 ex. VAT each). These attach via 12GB/sec InfiniBand ports at the rear, adding a further 12 drives each to the mix.

You can expand the DiskStation DS3611xs with the 12-bay DX1211, via an InfiniBand port

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External disks can also be attached via a set of four USB connectors at the rear. However, these are USB 2.0 only and are more for backup than capacity expansion. The USB ports can also be used to share printers.

Although it's possible to mix and match drives using the built-in Synology Hybrid RAID (SHR) technology, life is a lot easier if you stick to just one specification — preferably fairly high-end. Of course that will add to the cost, but it needn't be that expensive. For our tests, for example, Synology sent us a full set of a dozen 500GB Samsung SpinPoint drives, which we found available online at a remarkable £25 (ex. VAT) each. So our 6TB of storage added just £300 (ex. VAT) to the overall price.

On the downside, there's no support for SAS and still no ability to exploit the latest 6Gbps SATA III disks.

Network attachment is handled by a set of four Gigabit Ethernet interfaces; there's also a PCI Express expansion slot that can be used to add four more or a couple of 10Gbps ports. An Intel X520 adapter is required to get 10GbE, but these are available for twisted-pair or fibre cabling at around £450 (ex. VAT).

With that amount of bandwidth to play with, Synology claims a throughput of over 1,000MB/sec. However, achieving that kind of performance isn't as straightforward as it might seem.

We started out by testing using a single Gigabit port, using the open-source Iometer tool to generate a typical workload from a Windows 2008 R2 server. With this setup we recorded an average throughput of 112MB/sec to a 12-disk RAID 5 array connected via iSCSI.

Configuring additional network ports made no difference, as each was assigned its own IP address. So one way to take advantage of the extra bandwidth would be to share the appliance across multiple networks, each attached to a different port.

Another solution is to use 802.3ad link aggregation to, effectively, join interfaces together to create a single logical pipe. Unfortunately, the switch to which the appliance is attached must also support 802.3ad for this to work, which effectively means a mid-range smart switch or more expensive managed product.

To see an effect on our server we also had to setup an adapter team, ultimately getting just over 200MB/sec throughput when we tested using dual gigabit interfaces at both ends.

Like other Synology appliances, the DS3611xs runs a Linux-derived OS with a graphical management interface known as DSM (Disk Station Manager). This is easy to get to grips with, and we had no problems configuring NAS file sharing on our mixed Windows and Linux network. However, setting up the appliance for iSCSI and choosing the best redundancy setup wasn't quite as straightforward; there are lots of options to choose from and we had to try several combinations before we got what we wanted.

Fortunately the DS3611xs made light work of configuring the various arrays we tried, taking a lot less time to initialise the disks than most budget appliances.

Another plus is a host of bundled applications that can be configured to run on the DSM operating system. Some, like the integrated iTunes server, are aimed more at home users than businesses, but there's an Apache web server complete with PHP and MySQL database support, plus an SMTP email server. Active Directory integration also comes as standard, along with a firewall and other security options. For companies with IP cameras, a video surveillance tool is available to centrally record and manage footage.

Although it's reasonably quiet in operation, the DS3611xs could still be intrusive in an open-plan environment. It's also limited to a single power supply so, for those requiring a more reliable solution, a rack-mount implementation — the RS3411xs — is available with redundant power as an option.

Both have performance to spare, and properly configured these new Synology appliances are a force to be reckoned with in the storage arena.

Specifications

General
Total Storage Capacity 0 GB
Installed Devices / Modules Qty 0 (installed) / 12 (max)
Max Supported Capacity 36 TB
Processor / Memory
Processors Installed 1 x 3.1 GHz
RAM Installed 2 GB - DDR3
Max Supported Qty 1
Number of Cores Dual-Core
Power Device
Nominal Voltage AC 120/230 V
Frequency Required 50/60 Hz
Power Consumption Operational 132 Watt
Storage
Max Supported Capacity 36 TB
Total Storage Capacity 0 GB
Network Storage Type NAS server
Storage Controller
RAID Level JBOD, RAID 0, RAID 1, RAID 10, RAID 5, RAID 5 hot spare, RAID 6
Interface Type Serial ATA-300
Interface Type Gigabit Ethernet
Interface Provided
Qty 4
Interface Ethernet 1000Base-T, USB 2.0
Connector Type RJ-45, Type A
Miscellaneous
TAA Compliant Yes
Chassis
Installed Devices / Modules Qty 0
Supported Devices / Modules Qty 12
Processor
Installed Qty 1
Clock Speed 3.1 GHz
Number of Cores Dual-Core
Networking
Type Network adapter - integrated
Remote Management Protocol HTTP, HTTPS, SNMP, Telnet
Network / Transport Protocol DDNS, FTP, PPPoE
Features Access Control List (ACL) support, Advanced Data Streaming (ADS), backup server, download client, file sharing, iTunes server, print server, surveillance station, wake on LAN (WOL), web server, FTP server, IP address filtering, IPv6 support, Link Aggregation Control Protocol (LACP), MySQL server, SMS alert, Samba support, UPnP Media Server
Data Link Protocol Ethernet, Fast Ethernet, Gigabit Ethernet
Compliant Standards UPnP
Host Connectivity (for SD) Gigabit Ethernet
Network Services Compatibility Apple File Protocol (AFP), FTP, Microsoft CIFS, Network File System (NFS), Web-based Distributed Authoring and Versioning (WebDAV)
Processor / Memory / Storage
Max Supported Qty 1
Hard Drive
Type HDD - hot-swap - 2.5" / 3.5" shared
Hot-Swap hot-swap
Form Factor 2.5" / 3.5" shared
Form Factor (metric) 6.4 cm / 8.9 cm shared
Interface Type Serial ATA-300
Type hot-swap
RAM
Installed Size 2 GB
Technology DDR3 SDRAM
Environmental Parameters
Min Operating Temperature 41 °F
Max Operating Temperature 95 °F
Humidity Range Operating 5 - 95% (non-condensing)
Sound Emission 29.4 dBA
Header
Brand Synology
Product Line Synology Disk Station
Model DS3611xs
Packaged Quantity 1
Compatibility Mac, PC
Expansion Slots
Total Qty 2
Free Qty 2
Type expansion slot
Expansion Bays
Total Qty 12
Free Qty 12
Type hot-swap
Form Factor 2.5" / 3.5"
Form Factor (metric) 6.4 cm / 8.9 cm
Dimensions & Weight
Width 11.8 in
Depth 13.4 in
Height 12.2 in
Weight 23.15 lbs
Service & Support
Type 3 years warranty
Service & Support Details
Full Contract Period 3 years
Type limited warranty

Topics: Storage, Reviews

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