More and more NAS manufacturers are expanding their equipment with all sorts of useful features. Think of managing your media, making backups or even a private cloud. Nowadays it is even possible to run virtual machines on your NAS and today we are looking at Synology's Virtual Machine Manager (VMM) which we are testing on the DS2419 +.
Running virtual machines on this NAS is a piece of cake. Open the Appstore (Package Center) and search for the Virtual Machine Manager. Click on the “Install” button and the package will be installed automatically.
When you open the package, you will be greeted by the installation wizard that helps you set up and configure virtual machines and the associated (network) settings. Once you've set all of this, you can choose what kind of Virtual Machine you want to create. The app gives you the choice of a Windows, Linux, Synology DSM or other machine. If you go for Windows, a QEMU Guest Agent will be installed before you can continue. With these tools you can be sure that your Windows installation is working properly.
If you get an error message that the virtual machines cannot be created because Open vSwitch is not enabled, do so first by going to the control panel and navigating to the “Network” heading. Click Manage and then Open vSwitch Settings. Switch it on and then go back to the Virtal Machine Manager.
If you have chosen an operating system, you can indicate where the virtual system should be installed, how much RAM and CPU (Cores) should be reserved for it and finally you indicate how much space the vm can use.
After all these steps you can start installing the operating system. Download an OS of your choice in the form of an .ISO file and select it in the settings screen.
Then start the machine by double clicking or by right clicking on the machine and choosing “Enable”. The system will now start. You can connect directly to the virtual machine by clicking on the “Connect” button. A new browser tab is opened and in this tab you can get started right away with your brand new virtual machine. This works in the same way as if you were working on a normal PC or a virtual machine on another system.
You can reach this virtual machine through your internal network by connecting to the NAS via VNC or your web browser. This means that you may notice some small delays here and there, depending on your network connection. A major advantage of this solution is that you can also connect to the virtual machine from outside your network and thus still be able to work on your system.
Working with the VMM is very pleasant and nice no nonsense. Although most functions are fairly standard for virtualization packages such as taking and managing snapshots and looping through connected USB devices, it is nice to see that all of this works just as easily from the NAS. Especially the VirtIO technology that is switched on for every VM ensures that the network connection with your virtual machine is almost as fast as a native connection.
Creating and managing virtual machines via your NAS is a nice addition to the already extensive feature set of Synology’s NASs. Although we think that this feature will not be used extensively in a home, garden and kitchen environment, it can certainly come in handy if you want to run just that little piece of software that is not available on your system, if you need some remote work want to have done or if you want to test a new (different) system.
You can even virtualize a virtual version of Synology’s own operating system so that you can test features that you do not want / can / dare to use on your own system.
The VMM certainly works well in business and you can use it for both server and workstation purposes. Keep in mind that if you have a lot of employees or you want to use heavy VMs you provide your NAS with extra memory and (dedicated) SSDs for the virtual machines in order to reach the maximum speed. If it becomes too tight, we recommend you go for Virtual Machine Manager Pro. This paid version gives you the option to use multiple NASs for your VMs and thus distribute the load.
The VMM is in any case a very nice way to get the most out of your NAS.