Synology recently announced their new DSM 6.0 NAS operating system at an event in London, and I went along to see what’s new and meet with the Synology UK team. Here are the highlights from the day, including answers to questions some of you submitted for Synology.
The Synology 2016 event was broken into sections looking at the history and progression of Synology, how DSM is evolving, new and modified applications and new products.
The history of Synology began with the launch of Synology’s DS101 back in 2004. DSM was upgraded to version 2.0 four years later with the introduction of the first app in 2009. Surveillance Station was the first indication that NAS drives could be used for more than just storage. Without going through the rest of the timeline Synology showed us how much had changed and how they’re continuing to improve their products.
Synology moved on to explain how the DSM operating system was evolving and the changes we can expect to see this year and beyond.
What’s New in DSM 6.0?
First up is 64-bit support. Among other features, the main driver for the move to 64-bit support is the ability to utilize more RAM, which will lead to improved parallel processing.
DSM 6.0 is being stripped down and becoming more modular with the features that are not necessary for everyone being removed. These features will still be available in the form off packages that can be added later on a needs basis. This will help keep DSM more stable and ensure users get what they need and not more.
DSM 6.0 will support Btrfs. Without going through the ins and outs of an entire file system, Synology says the shift in file system will offer greater reliability, flexibility and be more protective. More information on Btrfs can be found here.
Elsewhere, Synology is making a sincere effort to improve OS security with new features such as AppArmor, allowing the prevention of internal and external exploits. By using the modular, package-based system, NAS security can be updated more easily and with greater frequency – bringing improved response time. Alongside these features Synology will be adopting QualysGuard’s 3rd party vulnerability scanning to further harden system security.
If you want to get your hands on DSM 6.0 there will be some waiting. The beta is expected to launch towards the end October with a lengthy testing period. Making a change from previous beta releases, Synology is planning to keep the beta open for around 6 months. Expect to see the final version of DSM 6.0 available in Q2 of 2016.
Updated Backup Services
Synology is bringing a range of new features to how users can backup their data. The efficiency of backups will be improved with new techniques, including multi-version backups, allowing for a history archive up to 65535 revisions.
A new service called Export and Relink will improve synchronization between remote sites. Rather than trying to synchronize terabytes of data between multiple sites over slow internet connections, Synology will be offering a service whereby data is synchronized to physical external drives at one site – preferably over USB 3.x and encrypted of course – the drive is then shipped to the remote locations where the data is once again synced. Following this process, the sites relink ensuring all data is up-to-date and secure but remains accessible.
Using Synology’s Cloud Sync it will be possible to back up data to multiple 3rd party services – Dropbox, Google Drive, Amazon S3 and more. Another new feature is the ability to set up a single backup profile which will allow different configurations on different destinations. For example, a user wants to always back up their entire photos directory to Microsoft OneDrive and give it unidirectional syncing, so deletions do not occur. At the same time the user wants to keep the most up-to-date copy of that directory available at all times on Dropbox including all deletions. One profile could set up both of these services.
One feature demoed was instantaneous backups completed after files are saved to the storage device. Using Synology’s Cloud Station suite, files that are modified are immediately backed up individually rather than waiting for a whole-drive backup to be carried out on a schedule. This improves efficiency as no backups are started if no changes are made and only relevant files are managed.
New and Updated Applications and Services
Synology revealed that they are bringing a new mail client alongside a new MailPlus Server. The server can follow an Active-Active structure as opposed to Active-Passive in case of failure, making a switchover quick and seamless. The Mailplus design looks like it takes some design cues from Gmail – which is by no means a bad thing – with a clean and uncluttered interface.
The DS Audio and DS Touch apps will be updated with Apple Watch support, bringing remote NAS functions to the wrists of Apple users.
Meanwhile, the Photo Station app will be updated with a variety of new features including the ability to disable right-click to download, watermarking for images and integration with Wordpress, Joomla and Drupal.
Phrasing a certain tech goliath Synology announced the “biggest news in Video Station since Video Station”. Changes include a brand-new interface and offline transcoding for playback on other devices. For streaming to devices that need different formats (or smaller sizes to reduce data consumption) real-time transcoding is offered. Unlike offline transcoding these files are not saved ensuring space on the NAS isn’t wasted. Videos now show resoution, audio codec and number of channels when browsing your libraries.
The DS Video app will see support boosted with iOS, Android, Windows Phone, Roku, Samsung Smart TV and Windows 10 all on board.
Surveillance Station is getting a boost with improved communication between the NAS and client devices. Rather than routing video streams through the NAS onto monitoring devices, the new system will have the cameras stream straight to your phone/tablet. With a growing catalogue of 3000 supported cameras models supported, Surveillance Station now has built-in ONVIF support including edge recording for offline fallback, recording to local storage and mutable recording.
Synology will offer a mapping feature where all cameras on a premises can be laid out on a virtual map showing viewing direction and camera status (disconnected, connected or recording).
Finally, the his company is bringing the ability to run multiple Docker containers on a single NAS drive. This will allow for creating user-specific accounts with flexible resource allocation.
The newly announced Synology DS216play is the successor to the DS214play and brings with it all of that model’s features plus 4K transcoding, H.264 and H.265 support. The NAS will have a dual-core 1.5 GHz processor with 1 GB RAM and will consume a mere 6.83W when hibernating. This will prove to be a budget friendly NAS, retailing at £54 cheaper than its predecessor.
The NVR surveillance product line sees the introduction of the NVR216. This specialist NAS offers HDMI out for a full HD local display. It only consumes a very low 15W when recording continuously and supports up to 9 IP cameras. Other specs include: two USB 2.0, one USB 3.0, one 1Gb NIC, eSATA and audio in/out. Unlike other devices from Synology this one comes with 4 free camera licenses – as opposed to 2.
Synology also announced the new DS716+ with expandable storage using the DX213 or DX513 add-on module. Specs of the new NAS include:
- Intel Celeron N3150 (Braswell)
- 6W TDP
- AES-NI Encryption support
- 4K transcoding
- SATA 6.0 Gb/s
- DDR3L-1600 memory
- 230% faster than previos DS713+ model
Aside from augmenting product ranges Synology have announced a new product in a range of its own. The RT1900ac is a new dual-band router supporting speeds of up to 1900Mbps (1300 + 600). Similar to their NAS drives, the RT1900ac has a completely new approach to router interfaces dubbed SRM. This is a desktop-like environment allowing for easy router management. It is also possible to manage the router from a mobile device.
The router offers many expected features including traffic monitoring, parental controls and web filtering. It has the ability to restrict speeds or disallow connection for applications and services such as torrents and gaming.
For those without a Synology NAS drive, a USB drive or SD card can be attached to the router allowing the use of DS Download and DS File apps. If you do own a Synology NAS you can set up wake-on-LAN (WOL) with the router to automatically wake the NAS just by accessing the drive’s IP address. This router also introduces itself as the first with a dedicated app market (although Linksys may wish to quibble that point).
Following the day’s presentation, I was able to spend some time with the Synology UK team, where I posed a number of questions submitted by readers.
Q: Are or will Synology be considering a Windows Storage Server based NAS, similar to what Thecus and Seagate have come out with recently?
When it comes to releasing a Windows Storage Server based NAS Synology said that is not a priority as they are working hard with DSM. At the same time the hardware remains open and if users want to remove DSM and install an OS of their own choosing that is an option – although it’s not supported.
Q: Are there any plans to release a NAS capable of running a full virtualised OS (such as Windows etc)?
DSM does not support virtualizing another OS. For Windows compatibility Synology will be launching a dedicated Windows 10 app alongside the apps they currently have available which will continue to be updated and supported.
Q: When are Synology going to release a more powerful NAS based on the Intel Core I3/5/7 range?
In terms of more powerful hardware, Synology are focussing first and foremost on making sure the software is working as efficiently and powerfully as possible. They mentioned how certain operations were performed on one of their devices as well as a higher-specced competitor’s device and the Synology was more power efficient and performed the tasks faster.
Q: Can we trust Cloudstation? I ask given the huge number of posts on the Synology forums.
As for security Synology are working hard to ensure that all data is as secure as possible.
We’d like to thank everyone for the questions submitted! Stay tuned for reviews of the new models and features announced at Synology DSM 2016 and the Synology DSM 6.0 OS itself in the coming months.