Milton Keynes College

400 Mac students can now save their work on Synology's NAS server and are able to access their work from both Mac and PC. Rajal Singh Kalsi, IT Services Desktop Support Engineer

The Company

Milton Keynes College, founded in 1982, is the largest provider of further education and training in the city of Milton Keynes, offering a varied mix of vocational courses to a diverse set of students. The college has 3 main sites and each has approximately 7,000 students and 2,100 staff.

The Challenge

At the core of Milton Keynes College are the staff and students who take advantage of the college's technological infrastructure and resources every day. However, the storage space started to fall short of the everyday demand as the number of people continued to grow. The college also found it difficult to perform efficient and safe backup when there was so much data added every day. Another issue that the college had was that there were about 400 Mac students on campus, and they needed to find a way to integrate Macs into the college's AD server so accessing files became ubiquitous. It didn't take long before Rajal Singh Kalsi, the IT engineer of the college, realised it was time they needed an upgrade.

The Solution

Prior to deploying Synology's storage solutions, the college was using a legacy computer as a storage device with RAID built-in and an external hard drive for other IT resources. However, the storage space was limited to about 4TB, in which 1TB was used for course related documents and 3TB was for the staff and students' home folder. "The problem we had was on the 3TB as students used up all the space and near the end of the year it was no longer possible for students to save their work," said Kalsi.

The college decided to deploy a set of main and expansion unit on each of the three campuses. "We don't need to worry now that we have the Synology NAS servers as we have about 26TB of space, which is more than we need. Also if we ever needed to expand we can use the expansion unit which can give us an additional 40TB," noted Kalsi.

For backup, the college used to have a tape drive and in the beginning it worked fine because there was not much data. As space started to run out, IT staff soon came to realise they were changing the tape at different sites every day. "With Synology, all of the user folders are automatically backed up every day between the main and the expansion unit using Synology Time Backup," explained Kalsi.

The backup functionality wasn't the only feature Kalsi found useful. "There are lots of features which Synology's NAS server can offer, but the one feature that stood out was the synchronisation between our RackStation RS3412RPxs," said Kalsi. As the college now has 3 units of RS3412RPxs on each campus, Kalsi is now looking for a way to be able to modify a file or folder on the master unit, which would then replicate on the other two units immediately. This is exactly what Synology's Shared Folder Sync service brings – to serve as a contingency option that ensures data is always available.

With Windows AD integration support, Kalsi was able to manage the creation of every student's home folders and file permissions. "This has been great as staff can put their course materials on the same area and students can access it, but the students are not able to delete or modify, which is ideal," said Kalsi. As a result, Mac students can now save their work on Synology's NAS server and are able to access their work from a Mac or a PC. They can even restore deleted work on their own, via built-in Recycle Bin, without having to ask for IT's assistance on every time that happens.

At the moment the college is using a Mac server to run their DHCP service. Though Kalsi noted DiskStation's ability to quickly setup DHCP is definitely a bonus. "If there is an issue with the DHCP on the Mac server, then we just need to setup the DHCP on DiskStation and it's ready to go," said Kalsi of the benefit of having a server with versatile functionalities.

About 3 or 4 months into deploying Synology's storage solution, Milton Keynes College was able to address their issues by providing more data storage for everyone on-site, a better mechanism to preserve important data, and the ability for students to have ubiquitous access to their work regardless of the OS platform they are on.

Recommended Models

  • RS3412RPxs
  • RX1211RP

Recommended Features

  • Expandable Capacity
  • Efficient Backup
  • AD Server Integration
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