What seems to be a first amongst the commercial NAS manufacturers is the inclusion of virtual machine support through QNAP’s Virtualization Station. The Virtualization Station lets you use your HTML5/JAVA compatible browser to create, manage and operate a number of virtual machines. The software currently supports the following guest operating systems: Linux, Unix and Windows.
For the purpose of this post I will create 2 virtual machines on my TS-451 review unit – one that is imported from vmware and the other that’s created from an ISO image.
Note: You do need a minimum of 2GB RAM to run Virtualization Station. I would recommend at least 4GB depending on what host(s) you want to run.
Installation & Configuration
Virtualization Station does not come pre-installed on the TS-451, I had to go to the App Center to install. A straight forward process:
Once installed, the app was opened to complete the configuration:
I did run into an issue when selecting the network card to use. If you’ve configured LAGG like I have, it won’t let you complete the configuration of the Virtualization Station. It requires a dedicated network card.
Removing the LAGG interface resolves the issue:
Installed, configured and ready to go:
Migrating from vmware
For the first test virtual machine, I decided to do a migration from an existing vmware Windows 8 virtual machine. You need to copy the vmware image to the NAS before commencing.
Once migrated you can access the virtual machine via the browser based console. The console supports both HTML5 and Java so should be able to run on almost any platform.
Firing up the console and greeted by the familiar Windows 8 screens.
The screen resolution appears to be fixed at 1024 x 768. Not the highest resolution but certainly enough to get most things done.
Creating from an ISO Image
For the second test virtual machine, Ubuntu Server 12.10 was installed. The install ISO was copied to the QNAP and I went through using the Create a VM route in the Virtualization Station.
The new virtual machine is configured and created but the OS install won’t commence until the machine is started:
Installation was a breeze, no issues were encountered and Ubuntu Server loaded as expected:
For this mini review, I created a brand new virtual machine as well as imported an existing one from another virtualization platform (vmware). Both processes were relatively easy with enough guiding information along the way to allow for a smooth installation.
Performance of the Windows 8 virtual machine was a little sluggish. I would put this down to the 2GB of RAM allocation. Even on a physical box, 2GB is nowhere near enough to run Windows 8 well. In contrast, Ubuntu Server performed quite well with only a 512MB RAM allocation but that’s to be expected with a text only OS.
Virtualization Station is a good move by QNAP and has a lot of potential. The TS-451 works well with this technology but will be limited by its CPU core count and RAM. That said, the hardware limitation would really only impact the number of concurrent virtual machines you want to run. According to QNAP, best practice with the Celeron based TS-x51’s is just the one virtual machine. My short test shows that with enough RAM you could potentially run a couple if one of the guest operating systems was something like Ubuntu Server performing low processor intensive tasks.