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LightWork Design Limited

The units can run together using the built-in backup features. Even if one should fail, all our data would stay safe and sound on the other one. Shaun Ashcroft, ITS Manager, LightWork Design Limited.

The Company

LightWork Design provides world-leading rendering solutions to advanced 3D Computer graphics developers and designers. Building on 25 years experience, Lightwork Design offers innovative and cutting-edge rendering technology and has over 3 million users worldwide. The continual development of the company's integrated software enables physically accurate visualisation with exceptional efficiency and control within existing user-workflows. The company's dynamic and skilled team thrive on the challenges of 3D designing and developing needs by creating market-focused and easy-to-use rendering applications.

The Challenge

LightWork Design needed to replace a SAN solution. Although described as an entry level unit, the box was expensive to buy when compared to a file server and disks alternative. It provided 500GB of storage, quite a large amount at the time of its purchase.

It had, however, been in service much longer than it really should have been and was well past EOL with the manufacturer. More importantly, it had operational problems with newer operating systems yet the company was still relying on it for hosting business critical (test) data sets. On top of this, the automated QA systems were starting to fail because of these problems. A whole weekend of automated testing would be compromised, which was unacceptable.

It was time to retire this hardware. It was clear that it was time to modernise, review costs and see what upgrades were available.

The Solution

A search of what was available on the market began with the initial idea of buying hardware and then loading it up with open source software (such as FreeNAS). This, it was thought, would not only meet (at least basic) requirements but could also be a cost effective way of proceeding.  

It wasn't long before the search came across a family of Synology products. LightWork Design had never used or purchased a Synology NAS before. After conducting research, they discovered that you get a lot for your money. What was immediately compelling was that a complete, hardware-plus-software storage solution could be purchased for significantly less than just the server hardware alone offered by some other manufacturers. But, of course, it would also have to be suitable for the job.  

The chosen equipment would not only have to perform well but also needed to be able to integrate into the existing infrastructure, meet the backup requirements and have acceptable support arrangements in place.

The Benefits

An RS212 unit was purchased and was found to be a very capable piece of equipment. Physically, being only 1U high, it integrated easily in place of the 2U unit it was replacing. Getting up and running was also trivially easy and before long it had iSCSI linked storage to the hosting server. Actually, it all seemed just a little bit too easy. Using the RS212 as an iSCSI target just worked.  

It was all looking good but the RS212 still needed to perform, could it deliver an adequate performance? It turns out that indeed it could and without a single server error being logged. Of course that is how it should be but it felt quite refreshing nonetheless. Basically this storage unit was truly hammered for days on end and came through with flying colours. One thing that is impressive is just how versatile these Synology appliances are. LightWork has pretty much every flavour of Windows, Macintosh, Unix and Linux platforms on-site, not to mention a fair range of virtualised solutions and appliances. The experience of the RS212 is that it integrates and works, and if that wasn't enough, the backup options are many and you can implement multiple backup solutions including two tiered media and off-site cloud vaulting.  

A specific concern for the company from the start was the maintenance arrangements. ‘It looked as if the default option would be a return-fix-return arrangement and we needed to do better than that. Having spoken to the guys at Synology there was little doubt that the warranty support could be pretty quick with next business day arrangements possible. But we still needed to do better than that if we could.' said Shaun Ashcroft, the ITS manager. A simple option was to buy a second unit and hold it as a spare, bringing it into use should the original unit fail. ‘We could then easily accept any longer turnaround of a warranty fix. It is a cost effective option and means that the units can run together using the built-in backup features. Even if one should fail, all our data would stay safe and sound on the other one.'  

All in all when compared to the much more expensive options that could have been opted for, the RS212 turns out to be an absolute little gem. The RS212 not only offers more storage, better backups and high reliability fail-over but it can also be much more flexible as the businesses storage needs change.

Given that the DSM firmware is compatible with the whole Synology range, LightWork Design has no doubt they'll be finding use for more Synology NAS.

Recommended Models

  • RS212

Recommended Features

  • Support for iSCSI and multiple networked file systems
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