QNAP QuTS Hero Software
The QNAP TVS-h1288X we are testing utilizes the QuTS hero software stack. This solution combines the ease-of-use and many of the higher-level management features of QNAP’s traditional offering but adds ZFS as the back-end storage. For those who want that emphasis on ease of use, but also want ZFS underneath, QuTS hero is the company’s answer. We are going to have a number of screenshots showing off a bit of the features and functionality. There is frankly too much to go over in this review.
QNAP also has a nice feature where it can show the health status and location of a disk. If a disk fails, the TVS-h1288X can pinpoint which node and where it is in the chassis. These chassis management features are a great touch. Often if one uses open-source software to build their own ZFS NAS, this is the type of feature that often takes extra effort to set up. As a result, some other ZFS NAS solutions are not as clear on which drive failed which does not seem like an issue during setup but can be a big issue during future service. This is a great feature.
As we mentioned earlier, this information is tied into the various screens and locations are shown in the web interface.
We also showed earlier that we have a LCD screen for error messages and the same green/ red status in the software dashboard is mirrored on the front of the system. It may seem like a small step, but this is perhaps the easiest system to see which drive has failed that we have ever used.
Along with the storage, QNAP can also get system inventory information based on the NAS unit which we would expect. Perhaps the other nice bit of customization we saw is that the network ports are shown with status and location based on where they are in the overall chassis. QNAP went beyond disks with this functionality.
Creating a storage pool is relatively easy in QuTS hero. One can simply select disks and have the Create Storage Pool Wizard and have QNAP’s software configure everything for you. QNAP offers a lot of different options, but one does not need to delve into them. As a quick aside, just as an example of how abstracted the actual functionality of ZFS is to the experience, we did not see ZFS mentioned on this creation wizard.
The only area we saw ZFS mentioned was adding a SSD cache there is a “ZIL” reference which is the ZFS intent log. At STH, we have a guide on What is the ZFS ZIL SLOG and what makes a good one. That was the biggest hint that we were using ZFS aside from the fact that we skipped the volume creation workflow.
QNAP even has an easy UI to adjust how the SSD cache is used and allows one to pick data sets that it should be used on. One can also over-provision arrays and create reserved space for ZFS snapshots. Something one can see in these screenshots is that QuTS hero automatically is creating these different share locations without our intervention. Again, this is a higher level of automation to make the user experience easier.
One of the really interesting parts of the solution is that by default, QNAP enables compression. One can optionally enable deduplication on data sets as well. This is ZFS functionality that is added with little fanfare, just a simple switch.
QNAP has an extensive set of software solutions. This includes a large selection of apps in the App Center. For admins who just need a simple click-to-install experience, this is a great option.
While one can host applications, VMs, and containers locally, the solution can also be used to connect to other virtualization hosts. QNAP has step-by-step guides for doing this work as well.
Overall, the key here is that QNAP is focused on building an extremely easy-to-manage solution even if one has little experience with storage management. All of this functionality does mean that there are additional security surfaces to secure which goes along with having that extra functionality. Still, this is a significantly easier experience for a novice admin or one that does not administer a QNAP NAS daily to work with since there are wizards, suggestions, and well-explained tool tips throughout the web GUI.
Next, we are going to discuss performance, power consumption, and noise before moving to our final words.