Synology solutions helps South Africa Institute of Aquatic Biodiversity to streamline file sharing, backup process
"Synology Drive introduced an unprecedented level of flexibility and control to our everyday file access. A single set of files can be retrieved via mapped network drive, sync client, Web portal or mobile app. Most of the employees are in and out of the office all the time, yet they can rest assured that their data is accessible and up to date. All of these come with Synology's scalable storage systems, without subscription fees," says Andrew Grant, IT Systems Administrator of South African Institute for Aquatic Biodiversity (SAIAB).
Situated in Grahamstown in the Eastern Cape, SAIAB is an internationally recognised centre for the study of aquatic biodiversity.
As a national facility of the National Research Foundation (NRF), SAIAB serves as a major scientific resource for knowledge and understanding the biodiversity and functioning of globally significant aquatic ecosystems. With both marine and freshwater bio-geographical boundaries, southern Africa is ideally placed to monitor and document climate change.
Originally concentrated on the collection, curation and research of fishes, SAIAB has become a modern research and training institute which focuses on the full spectrum of aquatic environments, from marine offshore to continental freshwater catchments and developing and sustaining the capability of young and upcoming scientists to study them.
SAIAB has a community of about 100 people (40 staff, 10 interns and 50 students) with a combined production space of roughly 500TB, including online space used for backup. All aspects of the IT infrastructure are designed, implemented and supported by one person. It also includes desktop management and support for about 100 people. The scarcest resource is the time available for implementation and maintenance of the systems and devices.
The file server solutions used prior to adopting Synology was a combination of Windows file server and Google Drive, the former for native Windows client access, and the latter for syncing and sharing.
Other solutions considered were either overly complicated with no native file server access, or the solution had security or sync issues, as it only had indirect file server supports as an "external data source".
Integrated file syncing and sharing experience into on-premises file servers.
Synology Drive provides an integrated portal for the staff to access their files in any manner they like.
* Mapped network drive makes storing and sharing files within local network fast and simple.
* Its Web portal and mobile applications are also developed for remote access without VPN.
* For those who do not have their hands on their computing devices, the Web-based Drive client allow them access to files in need.
* Lastly, the sync-enabled Drive client allows users to set up files syncing tasks between a centralised NAS and multiple clients' computers, in which the workflow is streamlined by Drive syncing the output of the RDS server to the staff's laptops.
In addition, Synology NAS equips with self-service backup and restore features, which maximises data and services availability. Overall, the intuitive and easy-to-use user interface greatly reduce the training required.
Built-in system management and disaster recovery tools to reduce IT efforts
Moreover, there are various tools and integration that allow simpler IT management tasks. Active Directory integration with the existing IT infrastructure allows easy accounts and privilege management. IT managers are also able to set up each user's or each folder's storage quota to better manage the overall system resources.
In addition, Security Advisory and Storage Analyzer give comprehensive information to run security's configuration self-checks and disk usage reports. In case of hazardous events or human error, Snapshot Replication is often used for instant disaster recovery with multiple versioning.
Lastly, for those that have relied on Virtual Machine Manager to run Virtual DSM, ultimately when NAS is to be upgraded in the future, the VM can be migrated with minimal fuss.
Smart storage solution that refines itself over time
SAIAB also has a relatively small IT budget. Again, Synology goes the extra mile by providing free updates to its operating system over an extended period. Regardless of the age, all of its NAS systems are on the same software level, reducing complexity and mitigating security risks.