Miscellaneous Aspects and Concluding Remarks

Important NAS aspects such as RAID rebuild durations and power consumption have already been recorded in our performance review. The power consumption numbers for typical NAS usage with Virtualization Station active are provided below. Note that the four drives being used are the Western Digital WD40EFRX 4 TB Red drives.

QNAP TS-451 Power Consumption (Virtualization Station Active)
Activity Avg. Power (W)
VM Workload (Heavy Internet Browsing) 29.84 W
VM Workload (Heavy Internet Browsing) + robocopy Write to RAID-5 Volume 33.14 W
VM Powered On (Idle) / Disks Active 28.19 W
VM Powered Off / Disks Idle (not spun down) 25.23 W

The combination of low power Red drives as well as the power efficiency of the 22nm Bay Trail-D Celeron J1800 results in an energy-efficient NAS and hypervisor platform. One would be hard-pressed to create a fully-populated NAS with four bays along with the ability to run VMs within such a power profile.

Coming to the business end of the review, we believe that Virtualization Station is undoubtedly one of the most interesting features to emerge in the COTS (commercial off-the-shelf) NAS operating systems space. The benefits to SMBs / SMEs are without question. From a home consumer perspective, it might even be the start of virtualization going mainstream. Let us be honest here - the average user (not the typical AnandTech reader) cares little about virtualization as a feature. However, with the TS-x51 series, it might turn out to be something worth it for such users to explore. The ability to run Android VMs in Virtualization Station is coming soon. Combined with the applications that we outlined earlier in this piece, it is definitely going to be interesting to see how the market reception for QNAP's TS-x51 units.

The Virtualization Station package in QTS is definitely usable, but it is a bit light on features compared to offerings such as Hyper-V. We would like to see high speed data transfer between the host and the guest implemented at the earliest. In addition, QNAP could also prepare applications for P2V (physical-to-virtual) translation - enabling its customers to retire old PCs with the data backed up. Usage of a WLAN adapter as the dedicated network adapter for the VMs could enable users to retain performance while also taking advantage of the unique feature. All in all, despite the missing features, QNAP's Virtualization Station is a well-rounded compelling offering that helps them stand out in the COTS NAS market for SMB, SOHO and home consumers.

SMB 3.0 Evaluation and VM Performance Impact
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  • DanNeely - Monday, August 18, 2014 - link

    Could you add the power level with the NAS idle and no VM running to the table on the last page of the article? Reply
  • ganeshts - Monday, August 18, 2014 - link

    I have updated the article with the latest power numbers. Reply
  • iAPX - Monday, August 18, 2014 - link

    It's not a NAS, it's a server that host up to 4-drives, and is clearly not targeted at data centers.
    Too expensive for SOHO, and anyway not good as a Virtualization platform (4GB or 8GB RAM max is really ridiculous to aggregate many little servers into a box), nor good as a NAS for enterprise (due to the encryption bandwidth cap), and worse when doing both of them (no more bandwidth aggregation!).

    I wonder where is the market for such an hybrid, when I will instead use a simpler less expansive NAS on one side, and a dedicated VM server on the other (many cores and 32GB+ RAM) ?!?
    Reply
  • ganeshts - Monday, August 18, 2014 - link

    The target market is home users (power users / enthusiasts). Note that I haven't talked about the unit's transcoding capabilities (I mentioned it in the first review). QTS is a popular COTS NAS OS.

    I do agree on the expensiveness part - but, most other COTS NAS are in the same price range. QNAP is demanding a slight premium because of the virtualization and extensive transcoding features which no other COTS NAS has, as of now.

    Btw, this unit has the capability to run only 1 VM. If you want multiple servers in a 'box', then, the higher end solutions such as the TS-EC1279U-RP are your best bet.

    QNAP doesn't expect the TS-451 to be used as an Exchange server. The four use cases are meant for the rackmount units mostly.

    I have already covered why the combo concept could be a better bet in many circumstances - data traffic doesn't clog up the network, power consumption with one physical machine is better than two. Again, it depends on how many VMs you want to run at the same time. The TS-451 is suitable for home use.
    Reply
  • iAPX - Monday, August 18, 2014 - link

    I understand your point, but in this case, a simpler NAS, with one or two Intel NUC wouldn't be better (and load-balanced to be crash-prone) ?
    And anyway more expandable, on the VM side, both in available CPU, RAM, or by adding simple inexpensive units?
    Reply
  • ganeshts - Monday, August 18, 2014 - link

    Taken standalone (just talking about virtualization features), you are definitely right about what provides more flexibility.

    However, when people look at the TS-451 as an 'appliance', they see the virtualization aspect as just one of the features. Transcoding is another major aspect (and put in all the myriad QTS applications like QSync, cloud access etc.). The whole is greater than the sum of the parts.
    Reply
  • iAPX - Monday, August 18, 2014 - link

    I don't buy it, because to use all of that you need to be a linux sysadmin wannabee, to install and run Linux VM (at least, or BSD, or ...). At this point you might be able to control your own set of dedicated servers.

    Anyway, I appreciated your follow-up to this article, and your point-of-view, it's great to have this level of commitment, and to be able to have insights when there's remaining questions. Kind regards.
    Reply
  • ganeshts - Monday, August 18, 2014 - link

    I am not sure I follow the 'linux sysadmin wannabee' aspect. You can install any type of VM you want - Windows or Linux or even Android.

    Transcoding - This is plug and play. After installing the NAS, accessing the video files in it through QNAP's mobile app - Qfile - can trigger the transcoding depending on what quality level is chosen. This is orthogonal to the VM feature. You don't need any VMs running to use the transcoding feature.

    All QTS apps - These provide additional features and are again not depending on the VM aspect.

    I fear I might not have effectively conveyed my points across.
    Reply
  • bsd228 - Monday, August 18, 2014 - link

    you'd need to be that sysadmin wannabee to deploy the NUC solution you suggest as well. Reply
  • iAPX - Monday, August 18, 2014 - link

    Exactly, in both case you might need to be a sysadmin (even a wannabe! lol!), wether it's windows or linux doesn't count, as Ganesh stated, but if you know hot to install and handle a VM with an OS, and remote access it correctly, you have it needs to handle Intel NUC (or whatever is your VM host of choice), and don't need a box that will make it easier to handle different services.

    In fact I think there's a much more larger market for a NAS that don't have virtualization, (thus a less expensive tag price, and lighter CPU/RAM configuration) but provides these services through "bundles" or "plug-in" (whatever you call them) hosted on their main Linux OS.
    Reply

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