Drakewell Boosts Capacity and Performance with Synology Storage

The performance of Synology all-flash arrays never ceases to impress us: the team in our US datacenter were looking to get faster, more responsive NFS storage. They decided to evaluate the Synology FS6400 by dialing in to our UK datacenter, and were astonished to find the hypervisor in the US getting better speed and latency from the Synology across the Atlantic than from their existing enterprise storage in the local network

Simon Farmer, General Manager, Drakewell

Doubling the capacity of VMware storage while maintaining the same data structure

Drakewell maintains a large database of continuously updated traffic information that is constantly in use, generated by roadside traffic data equipment. The database requires low latency and fast responses to serve critical data in real time to enable traffic flow on roads and railways. 

Beyond pure IO performance, Gen21 are particularly attentive to the responsiveness of the storage, ensuring ultra-low latency in order to ensure the data delivered and processed by the datacenter is accurate and can then be shared with the appropriate authorities to make decisions on traffic management. 

Drakewell's challenge was to double the capacity of their VMware storage but maintain the same real estate in their datacenter in addition to running four concurrent backup operations 24 hours a day, with each backup task taking up to 12 hours.

Synology implements a scalable solution that achieves high-performance storage with efficient backup and recovery

Gen21 were tasked with designing and implementing a solution that not only met the capacity needs but allowed for the solution to scale as the virtual machine footprint grew. Beyond high-performance storage, they were also able to provide a backup and disaster recovery method for the virtualization setup, as well as provide a file-syncing solution for the team.

Image of a server rack with Synology Flashstation NAS


High-performance all-flash storage

Drakewell currently deploys 4 x FS6400 units, each populated with 24 x 2TB  SSDs as their primary virtual machine storage. The applications are very write-intensive, so Gen21 selected RAID 10 to minimize RAID penalties. 

As the FS6400 runs a fully-fledged DSM operating system, they were able to opt for NFS4.1 to present storage to the VMware environment. Just like iSCSI, it allows for multipathing but provides the benefit of hardware acceleration as it leverages the Synology's processor and system memory for disk writes. 

This simple change brings down latency, and makes the storage ultra-responsive, well below the upper limit of 5ms of latency, the "red line" for Jason Windmill, Gen21's Senior Engineer. The Synology storage barely registers in the VMware performance monitoring charts as it averages an incredible 200 ns!

The most recent FS6400, Drakewell's fourth addition, is fully populated with 24 x Synology SAT5200-1920G SSDs: these enterprise-grade disks provide a fully integrated Synology storage experience, encompassing hardware, software and disk management and deployment.

Service backup and disaster recovery

The traffic information and processing which takes place is highly critical and requires near-constant uptime, and snapshots are regularly taken and replicated to an SA3400 expanded to 24 bays, providing 40TB as a backup target. Should any error occur on a Virtual machine running the database, it can be restored to a healthy version, directly to the hypervisor in a matter of minutes.

File synchronisation and test environment for the team's internal use

The series of all-flash arrays and backup targets described above are part of the main infrastructure Drakewell uses to deliver services to their customers. 

Gen21 engineers were also able to leverage a previous Synology FS3017 system to provide a solid file synchronization tool to Drakewell employees whether they are at the office, offsite, or simply working from home. Using Synology Drive, they can combine the convenience of similar public cloud solutions with secure access to files, as no remote access via VPN is needed.

The FS3017 is also used as storage for various tools used by the developers, such as test environments or management and monitoring software such as Ansible.

Topology of how Synology NAS was deployed

Guaranteed quality customer service with Synology’s storage solution which is fast, solid and scalable

Drakewell now benefits from a storage solution which is both fast, solid and scalable, allowing them to guarantee the quality of service offered to their customers. In addition, Synology's continuous innovation with the addition of their own SSD range provides tighter integration of the overall solution, which delivers not just higher and more sustained performance, but also gives scope for enhanced capabilities such as direct SSD firmware management. 

"Storage isn't just about space, it's also about performance and reliability, deploying Synology hardware and solutions provide this and help our customers punch above their weight ." - Jason Windmill, Senior Engineer, Gen21 

The Customer

Drakewell specializes in traffic data analysis, established in 1979 in the UK, they carry out development activities and provide solutions around the areas of traffic data collection, evaluation and reporting. Supplying local authorities and private companies in the UK and across the globe, such as Transport for London, Drakewell delivers fast and accurate shareable traffic data 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and are an ISO 9001 and ISO 27001 certified company.

Gen21 are a Synology partner and systems integrator based in Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire, with expertise in networking, storage, and security, who work in multiple vertical sectors including aerospace, education, government and insurance. Gen21 have engaged closely with Drakewell to provide expertise and guidance as their data needs grow.
United Kingdom

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