A NAS server can no longer be, today, a simple tool for secure data storage capable of managing the versioning of files and, therefore, to restore a file back to the state in which it was days, weeks or even months before.
Synology NAS offers an almost infinite range of possibilities. In the article What is Synology Active Backup for Business and how it works, we saw how Synology NAS can become a valuable support for data backup and deduplication in your company.
Through a centralized administration console you can manage backup and recovery operations within the company’s local network, even between different locations physically located hundreds or thousands of kilometers away.
We’ve seen how Synology Active Backup for Business, a professional, zero-cost backup and disaster recovery solution, overcomes the complexity that often reigns supreme today when it comes to data backup and recovery policies.
Active Backup for Business enables and facilitates the management and backup of PCs, workstations, physical servers, Google G Suite installations, Microsoft Office 365 and virtual machines.
Among the services that the new Synology NAS for the professional market offers there is also Virtual Machine Manager (VMM), an effective, efficient and intuitive hypervisor that allows you to configure and run various virtual machines (including Windows, Linux and Virtual DSM).
On the NAS listed at this address you can not only configure and run virtual machines but also use VMM as a great disaster recovery solution.
We have said that with Active Backup for Business you can manage virtual machine backups: with VMM Synology helps its customers to manage resources in a flexible way by dramatically increasing the availability time of services.
The ability to use free add-on packages such as Active Backup for Business and Virtual Machine Manager demonstrates how Synology has gone far beyond the concept of traditional NAS by offering users a wide range of add-on features to manage business loads and workflows with maximum efficiency. It is the NAS that adapts to the needs of professionals and businesses, not the other way around: each device can certainly be used as a simple device for storing data (in RAID configuration) but can be set up to handle dozens of needs (for example to create a VPN server, set up a suite for online collaboration in private cloud mode, a file server and much more; see, in this regard, these articles).
What is Synology Virtual Machine Manager (VMM) and How to Configure it?
Virtual Machine Manager (VMM) allows you to configure and run multiple virtual machines on Synology NAS: hardware resources can be allocated flexibly, a virtualization environment can be easily set up, and Virtual DSM can be migrated between hosts without disrupting service.
But what is Synology Virtual DSM? We have often talked about DSM, an acronym for Disk Station Manager, the operating system of the Taiwanese company that allows the management of all the features of the NAS in a graphic way, using only the web browser.
Virtual DSM takes advantage of the ease of use of DSM to manage the virtual machines created on the NAS: each instance of the software will allow you to take advantage of almost all the functions of DSM; to set up a multi-tenant environment so as to have a virtual machine totally isolated from the others for each unit or business department; to have a host always “intact” because in turn separate from the virtual machines managed on the NAS.
VMM is installed using the DSM Package Center: the procedure is immediate to follow and complete. In fact, you are asked to confirm the units to be used in order to create the appropriate cluster for the management of virtualization activities.
From this moment, you can start with the creation of virtual machines. It is interesting to note that a system administrator, for example, thanks to the use of virtual machines, can always try out new versions of DSM in advance and see if there are any problems with the configurations in use in the company.
By clicking on Virtual machine in the left column then on the Create button you can choose which type of virtual machine you want to create. It is useful to highlight that the Synology software also allows the import of pre-existing virtual machines.
First, the wizard will ask you where you want to store the new virtual machine, then you can specify the information about the operating system to be installed and the part of the resources available on the NAS to be allocated to you.
The following steps consist in downloading and installing the QEMU Guest Agent software component that allows you to supervise the correct storage of data at the file system level when the operation of the virtual machine should be temporarily suspended.
As with any other virtualization software, you can then indicate the ISO file of the operating system to be used to create the virtual machine (it must have been previously stored in a folder of the NAS even if you can still proceed “in progress” …) and the amount of space to be dedicated to the virtual hard disk.
By clicking on the icon depicting a small gear you can decide the type of virtual controller to use: you can choose for example SATA but after installing the additional software of Synology, with the settings shown in the figure, the virtual machine will automatically switch to the use of the most powerful drivers Virtio-SCSI.
Then VMM will ask you to confirm the configuration of the virtual network card, to specify if the virtual machine should be started automatically each time you turn on the NAS, the type of BIOS to use (legacy or UEFI), the preferred keyboard layout, whether to enable the virtual USB controller, the users set in DSM who will be entitled to interact with the virtual machine being created.
With a click on the Power on button, the newly created virtual machine will immediately start on the NAS.
By simply clicking the Connect button, you will be connected to the virtual machine and you will be able to see what is shown on the virtual display of the same.
In our case we have installed Windows 10 from a custom ISO in order to prepare an unattended installation (Create ISO Windows 10 for automatic installation of the operating system) but you can still install and run through the NAS Synology any version and edition of Windows, Linux distributions and Virtual DSM.
As you can see, Windows 10 is being installed in the virtual machine created with Synology VMM and the operating system, together with the entire virtual environment, are fully manageable without ever leaving the web browser.
In the meantime, you can go back to the VMM administration panel and create a protection plan, for example, or decide how often and under what circumstances to create an image of the content of the virtual machine, which can be easily restored in case of problems (with VMM Pro, which requires a separate license, you can also create remote replicas as well as local replicas).
VMM also allows you to define the so-called retention policy, i.e. to determine how many images of the virtual machine must be stored in the NAS before removing the older ones.
By clicking on the Snapshot action button, Take a snapshot you can manually request, at any time, the creation of an image of the status and therefore of the configuration of the virtual machine selected from the list.
With VMM it is possible to create a cluster infrastructure composed of a maximum number of 7 Synology NAS. In this way you can quickly migrate virtual machines with unmatched flexibility and scalability while balancing load and resource allocation.
In addition, Synology has provided for seamless migration of virtual machines between two NAS with the possibility, for example, to store data on a third machine.
For more information, we suggest you refer to the official Synology page dedicated to VMM, keeping in mind that the purchase of one of the NAS models shown in this list entitles you to use a vast array of additional software exceptional for your business including, in fact, VMM and Active Backup for Business.