Synology stretches into a backup appliance, with object stores to come

Would like to vanquish Veeam and Veritas, but tidying up backup rigs is an easier job

Computex Taiwanese storage vendor Synology has revealed a range of backup appliances.

For years it has sold NAS devices that include a hypervisor and modest processing capacity. That combo has been suggested as not-quite hyperconverged infrastructure, but instead a handy way to run a few modest VMs in small offices.

Curiously, Synology also bakes a browser-based personal productivity suite into its storage devices. Another of its offerings is Active Backup, which as the name implies is a backup software package.

On Wednesday, at Taiwan’s Computex show, it revealed the ActiveProtect line; appliances that include backup software and a tool to control a fleet of the devices and manage the data they store.

To backup VMs, users will need the hypervisor's IP address, plus info on network configurations and appropriate credentials.

Once given permission to access sources like fileservers they just reach out and copy data users specify for protection. The kit can also back up data from SaaS services like Google Workspace.

Users can manage a fleet of the devices from a single console, and locate data on the Synology machines of their choosing to achieve the desired levels of resilience. Backed-up data can be made immutable for a period chosen by users, and restoration is promised to be simple - with some features designed to help bounce back from ransomware infections.

Synology Active Protect Appliances

Synology’s ActiveProtect Appliances - Click to enlarge

Backup appliances are not new and despite offering Active Backup for years Synology has not become a data protection brand to rank alongside the likes of Veeam, Veritas, or CommVault. So what’s Synology’s angle here?

Execs told The Register that they think the ActiveProtect boxes beat their backup software rivals on price and simplicity: the devices are sold with users’ required storage capacity – a mix of hard disk and SSD is possible, and there’s an all-flash model too – followed by an annual fee that varies based on used capacity.

That fee covers backup code, an arrangement we were told will undercut data management software vendors’ pricing significantly. Synology also thinks that by relieving orgs of the need to integrate backup software with their chosen hardware it has a decent pitch over total cost of ownership.

The managers acknowledged that organizations that already have a backup strategy aren’t likely to vanquish Veeam or Veritas, or cast out CommVault – backup is a workload you don’t mess with once it’s working. Those with a patchwork of backup tools are a more likely target, we were told. Users of Active Backup looking to stick with Synology are also on sales teams’ radar.

Bigger ActiveProtect boxes are already in the works. So are scale-out NAS devices that for the first time will see Synology offer object storage, probably in early 2025. ®

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