“QNAP can be used at 10% of the cost of existing devices, with 80% of the performance, so we have replaced nearly all our network storage devices.” - AKB Limited
Director Ferdinand Capati (center right)
Sales and Marketing Manager Julien Bogaers (far right)
Network Engineer Pierre Roussel (center left)
Customer Support Manager Atsushi Igawa (far left)
AKB Corporation Ltd. (Hereinafter AKB) refers to a company that develops systems for businesses outside Japan, and comprises four employees, three of whom are French. We asked AKB for details of the circumstances and an evaluation of the introduction of the QNAP TS-639 Pro Turbo NAS(※).
AKB is a systems development company centered on systems configuration for non-Japanese companies. We supply ERP systems (※See Note 1) and total solutions for European fashion brands that are making inroads into Japan. Our sales for the last financial year were approximately 80 million yen, and we have four employees, including the directors.※Note 1: ERP systems
Solutions that unify and manage systems configured separately in each department for maximum business efficiency through the effective use of corporate resources.
What are AKB's strengths?
Non-Japanese companies making inroads into Japan, are confronted by two barriers. These are the language and the business customs barriers.
AKB can offer consulting and support during introduction in Japanese, English or French. Our greatest strength lies in being able to configure a system for a non-Japanese client without any sense of interference from language or business customs difficulties.
Another of our great advantages is total customer backup, including post-system configuration support.
How is QNAP used?
AKB is different from other users, but we use QNAP for the following two purposes.
- Ahsay online backup system storage (※See Note 2.)
- Virtual solution storage.
Tell us about the events leading to the investigation of the QNAP.
Since the end of 2009, AKB has been developing the Ahsay solutions. Ahsay is a backup system used by more than a million companies around the world, and many of them use it in conjunction with the highly-compatible QNAP. We decided to examine QNAP for this reason.
It is also used as storage for virtual solutions.
When configuring systems, all companies want to keep both the initial and operating costs down. Virtual solutions are used by many companies as one way of doing this.
For example, virtualization makes it possible to use fewer physical servers. This reduces the burden on management and lowers operating costs. Furthermore, when introducing new applications, there is no need to configure a separate virtual server. (※See Note 3.)
However, this can be achieved regardless of the supervising system integrator.
Not being satisfied with just this, AKB examined other methods, believing there must be more ways of reducing costs.
Our focus at this time was storage.
Large-scale system storage is expensive, and in the past has often accounted for close to half the cost of configuring a virtual system. Finding an inexpensive product withsimilar performance would enable costs to be reduced.
However, a consideration of cost alone reduces the choice of available storage. It is also necessary to consider reliability and compatibility with other peripheral devices. This is important because partial systems malfunctions caused by the added devices must not cause work to stop.
Consequently, we are currently implementing lengthy running tests, and when these tests have been done we are scheduled to start operations gradually in an authentic environment.
※2 Ahsay online backup systems The official name is Ahsay Systems Corporation Limited. Highly-reliable backup solutions used in over 1 million companies worldwide. Our solutions are compatible with 31 different languages, and there is also a Japanese interface.
※Note 3: If resources are insufficient, additional physical servers will be necessary.
What are the elements for a comparative examination of storage products?
In selecting storage products, what comparative examination elements were used? Storage products required the following five conditions to be satisfied.
1. Fast reaction times
Compared to physical configurations, virtualization tends to have high latency (※see Note 4) and low transfer speed. Consequently this places a limitation upon use. Fast reactions times are needed and so candidate products using either Fiber Channels or iSCSI were considered.
It is possible to connect iSCSI storage devices directly to the network using existing hubs, routers, and switches. We decided that iSCSI, which does not cost the earth when compared to fiber, was ideal.
2. Ability to use IEEE 802.3ad functions
The use of IEEE 802.3ad functions satisfies multiple-line bandwidths and this makes it possible to improve transfer speeds at low cost.
3. Linkups to virtual solutions are possible
Another advantage is the ability to create linkups to different virtual solutions such as those of VMware, Red Hat and Xen.
In particular, linkups to the widely used VMware are essential.
4. It must have replication functions
The importance of data backup in case of malfunction remains unchanged even with virtual storage.The ability to promptly restore data should a malfunction occur is vital.
In practice, if the backup data is stored at a remote location, transferring large amounts of data will take time. This means that recovery will also be time consuming. Butstoring the backup data in a nearby location to reduce transfer time, for example in the same room, is not necessarily a good thing. Should the building be damaged or destroyed in a natural disaster, the backup data may also be lost.
Consequently, the backup is meaningless, and restarting your business will be a problem.
The solution to this dilemma is replication.
Using a replication function, it is possible to periodically synchronize the backup data stored on two different servers.
In other words, it is possible to install two backup servers, one nearby with a short transfer time and another at a remote location, to solve the problem described above.
5. Excellent cost performance
After the introduction of low cost virtual storage devices their cost performance must also be considered.
Based on these requirements, we narrowed our selection down to two products from those offered by three companies and we loaned a QNAP evaluation model.
The time that elapses before results are returned after a data transfer request to the device.
Using the evaluation model loan service
What are the reasons for borrowing an evaluation model before purchase?
To verify the following three points.
1. Implementation speed
One is because we needed to know the actual response time in our specific environment. There are often differences between specifications and real performance. We wanted to measure the actual speeds in the environment we were to use.
2. Linkups to various virtual solutions
Secondly, to verify linkups to various virtual solutions.
The current QNAP device is recognized by VMware, but this was not so at the time, and so we decided to try linkups not only to the frequently used VMware, but also to various other virtual solutions such as those of Red Hat and Xen.
Finally, there is stability. As I have already explained, even if the introduction of an inexpensive solution is possible, it's meaningless if work is affected by malfunction. Consequently, it was necessary to check stability and reliability.
Please tell us about evaluating the loan service model.
We were able to verify conformance between the virtual solutions and the peripherals using actual devices, so it was useful in selecting products suitable for AKB's intended use.
Using the loaned evaluation device, it was found that QNAP achieved good overall performance and stable transfer speed.
As a result of actual measurements, speeds four times that of the local hard disk (actually measured at 25MBps) were achieved. (Actual measurement was 100MBps; the IEEE 802.3ad function was not used.) Linkup to virtual solutions such as VMware, etc, was also good, and the QNAP device never went down even when used continuously over many hours.
QNAP satisfied all the conditions considered by AKB, so we decided to use it.
What QNAP points were you able to evaluate?
QNAP has 80% of the functions of high-end devices at 10% of their cost.
We were able to satisfy nearly all the network storage requirements demanded, with excellent cost performance, and were also to reduce cost while maintaining existing operations.
Furthermore, the user interface is compatible with several different languages.
All the user interfaces used at AKB, Japanese, English and French, were clean and easy to use.
From the aspect of daily use, they are easier than the Linux CUI interface because they can be operated from a GUI.
As an enthusiast, and from the standpoint of systems director, what are the characteristics of QNAP?
QNAP is powered by Linux, and a characteristic of Linux is the ability to add functions easily. Unlimited use puts it in a different class from the storage products used by other companies which cannot be easily expanded.
There are frequent firmware upgrades and functions that were not built in at the release stage can be included later. This is very satisfactory from the developer’s standpoint.
Tell us about your future aspirations for Unity.
New Unity models are introduced periodically. The specifications described in the catalog are also easy to understand. This is extremely helpful when choosing a product. We would very much like to see more such excellent products introduced in the near future.
Thank you very much for taking time out from your busy schedule today to talk to us.
Date of interview: April 2010