The upshot is that you probably can afford a iSCSI SAN these days. With proper backups, the Synology DS1010+ could easily work in a virtualization environment (in fact, forum posts on Synology's community site show that many people are doing this). And it can certainly support full-on CIFS and NFS file serving for a sizable number of users.
There are other products in this space that can do the same, but the performance I saw in the lab with the DS1010+ really stood out. Just a few years ago, that level of performance started with a $15k minimum price tag and had offered very few of the features.
It makes me wonder if Synology is planning on heading upstream. The company offers a rackmount unit in the RS409+, but it supports only four hard drives (eight with an expansion unit) and doesn't have the performance of the DS1010+. Maybe they'll refresh that unit with something beefier. If they could come up with, say, a 10- or 12-spindle rackmount unit with redundant power supplies for under $5,000, it could fit in anywhere.
Let's face it: In the SMB world, you have to make some sacrifices to meet the needs of the organization while maintaining a reasonable budget. Products like the DS1010+ are aimed directly at that market, yet somehow also offer performance and features well above their pay grade. So if you think you can't SAN, you might want to look again.
This story, "So you think you can't SAN? Think again," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Read more of Paul Venezia's Deep End blog and follow the latest developments in storage at InfoWorld.com.