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Horsecross Arts Ltd

A single NAS server from Synology solved a myriad of problems across a diverse set of departments. Collaboration is now easier, management is centralised and simplified. Setting up the Synology NAS was very easy, the integration into a mixed Macintosh and Windows environment with Microsoft Active Directory was very smooth. IT Administrator David Smout

The Company

Horsecross Arts Ltd is an arts management charity based in Perth, Scotland. They run two venues, the modern Perth Concert Hall which opened in 2005 and Perth Theatre, which opened in 1900. It is home to Scotland's oldest professional Repertory Theatre Company. They are a multi award winning organisation with 28 awards in the last 5 years including a Pulitzer Prize with a co-commission with The Carnegie Hall, New York. There are 160+ users across two main venues as well as acting as agents for venues and festivals across the country. They collaborate internationally with artists in many different areas of the arts.

The Challenge

Horsecross Arts Ltd has expanded rapidly since 2005 and recently moved to a virtualised system. The advantages of having two separate sites linked by a fibre network meant an automated off site back up for the new virtual machines could be deployed. First challenge, a requirement of extra storage for back up on one of the sites which would support iSCSI. Second, a big part of the organisation is producing theatre and events. Both venues have a large library of recorded music and sound effects which kept locally on dedicated editing computers. Centralised network storage for this resource would enable multiple departments access. Third, the Concert Hall was built with an analogue CCTV system for monitoring the outside of the building. Both the Concert Hall and Theatre required monitoring inside to ensure the safety of events. IP cameras had been added but no central control or recording was installed. The solution also had to meet the Green Policies of the company, work across both Mac and PC, integrate into an Microsoft Active Directory and be easy to administer as well as secure.

The Solution

It was recognised that a NAS device was needed for cost effective storage, investigating the various hardware options led to a single device which would meet all the challenges. The Synology NAS server gave the storage for the virtual machine back up with an iSCSI link to the VM management software. iTunes media library function to deploy the combined Music and Sfx libraries. The IP Camera Surveillance management brought the individual IP Cameras back to a centrally controlled interface with storage for the footage.

The Benefits

Horsecross Arts now has a Synology NAS server with four 2TB disks giving 5.5 TB of storage using Synology Hybrid RAID. Installation was very smooth. Using 4 disks they were able to deploy a RAID with 1 redundant disk and maximise the storage with the Synology Hybrid RAID.

Set Up and Management - The web interface gives the impression of a desktop with different applications. Everything is easily managed with a good help file system accessed from the application you are working in. Joining the device to a domain, setting up shared folders on the volume and assigning permissions using the Active Domain Groups was simple. Setting up the features needed was just a case of enabling them and putting in a few pieces of network specific information. The access to the web management interface can be set to HTTPS only for extra security.

iTunes Server

Centralising the music and SFx into the Synology NAS server was very simple. The iTunes service was enabled and a name was given to the service on the network. The libraries of all the editing computers were copied to the default shared music folder on the Synology NAS server. About 350gb of data was copied over a gb network in a few hours, once that was complete the Synology NAS server appeared in iTunes as a shared Library, a password was set to allow only authorised access. It is fully searchable within iTunes which dramatically cuts down the amount of time creating sound tracks and with mapped drives for windows users or mounted drives at log on for Mac users it also can be added as a Library folder in iTunes. This makes the shared library available to all applications on the client computer. Removing the huge library off the client editing computers allows them to run the editing software much faster than before. Creative Learning and Community teams previously had to wait until a sound engineer was available to create their sound tracks, now they can do this job themselves. They have greater flexibility and lower costs per project.

Camera Surveillance

The internal IP cameras across both sites were mainly Axis PTZ213, Synology Camera Surveillance supports the function of these cameras and many others. Adding extra Camera licences was a quick and cost effective method as was configuration of the cameras into the system. PTZ is fully supported as is patrol function and the image settings of each individual camera. Storage quotas can be set for each camera too. A separate secure web control panel has also been set up for operators for easy administration and control of the system. This is centrally accessed in any building the safety and monitoring of has been improved as well as now having the ability to analyse events using the footage stored on the Synology NAS server.


The Synology NAS server was the perfect fit for Horsecross Arts. It has all the functionality required in a single device. It is cost effective, meets the requirements of the Green Policies, simple administration and secure set up and integration within the current network system. Dual network ports means a good through put of data, dual USB ports and eSATA gives expansion potential as well as disaster recovery planning using off site external drives. In the near future the RSync function will be used to back up to cloud based servers as an alternative to the external drives.

Recommended Models

  • RS409+

Recommended Features

  • Back up Storage
  • Surveillance
  • iTunes
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