From the magazine: Vendor Profile
We profile Synology, a global manufacturer of NAS systems
What is your company’s history-including Middle East History?
Synology was founded in 2000 in Taiwan and launched its first DiskStation product, DS-101 in 2004. We launched Middle East operations in the same year (2004).
What is your company’s core competence?
We never thought of NAS as merely a storage device. We like to define NAS as a combination of Network, Application and Storage instead. Our strong suit is still in data protection, but we have turned Synology NAS into a smart storage device. In addition to using the NAS for file transfer and data protection, user can leverage Synology NAS as a web server, mail server, NVR for surveillance, and files syncing between the NAS and public cloud services. There are also many Synology and third-party applications in DSM (operating system of all Synology NAS) package centre to cater to different customer needs.
What are some of the trends impacting your sector?
We are in the middle of a global major paradigm shift with Internet infrastructure getting more advanced, speed is getting faster, while the cost of IT keeps getting lower. People’s behaviour has also changed dramatically. Few people are downloading content anymore; OTT (over-the-top) services are bursting (e.g., Spotify, Netflix), not to mention the popularity of public cloud services such as Dropbox and Google Drive. These changes are primarily consumer-driven, and we have adjusted the direction of our software development roadmap accordingly. We want to focus on what benefits we can provide to the modern consumer, especially on mobile-relevant usage, and what other modern technologies we can integrate into our NAS systems.
In the commercial space, we have evolved along with the latest technology. For example, when it comes to drives, there are various distinct categories, as opposed to just generic drives, such as Desktop, NAS, Surveillance, and Enterprise HDD. For HDD, there has been a sharp rise in capacity with hard drives available that have a capacity of 16 TB. Solid-state drives (SDDs) now also come in many form factors and protocols. Other than drives, the speed of Internet connectivity is also very important for users; all Synology NAS have built-in 1GbE LAN, some even with 10GbE which can be updated up to 40GbE if needed.
In software development, we are very keen on artificial intelligence and some of our applications, especially image processing field, are AI-driven. For example, Synology Moments helps consumers back up multi-media files from mobile phones to NAS automatically, and the software can easily help organise and categorise photos by identifying people, subjects, and places from the photos. Most importantly, all the computing is being done within the NAS, saving customers the hassle of transferring the information to a vendor’s server for analysis and then receiving it back again. Another application is Surveillance Station (video management software of Synology NAS). Customers can configure advanced video analysis to avoid false alarms levering its ability to recognise objects, weather, etc. For example, if a cat passes by the balcony, users can choose whether they want to receive motion detection email alert for that or not.
Discuss the latest solutions from your company and the impact you see in the market
Although not entirely new, cloud is perhaps the most important technology in our field. Thanks to better technology and more cost-effective hardware components, cloud data centres are springing up all over the world built by industry giants such as Amazon, Google, and Microsoft. Customers increasingly deploy on-premise storage servers while using cloud storage for various applications, transforming their architecture into a hybrid cloud platform. This is why we have built our public cloud platform, Synology C2.
In the meantime, we still integrate with Google, Microsoft, and other cloud services to help customers back up not just files, but also entire services such as mail, calendar, and contacts from Office 365 or G Suite to a Synology NAS, and even restore to previous versions if and when needed.
Data is the world’s newest currency; people care more about their own or their company’s digital assets and are investing considerably to protect it. For now, people are still undecided what kind of files should be stored in larger capacity drives, which should go to high-density storage servers, or whether they should just use subscription-based cloud services. In the near future, boundaries between the different platforms will cease to exist. All these platforms will be integrated with each other, and with better Internet infrastructure and technology, data will be transferred much more easily and faster between all.
What is your presence in the Middle East?
Synology is headquartered in Taiwan, with seven branch offices around the world. In the Middle East, we work with distributors based on regional market dynamics. Currently, we have at least one authorised distributor or solution/service provider in nearly all countries in the Middle East. We hold our own Synology official events, and most importantly, we collaborate with and support our local channels to hold or attend local sales and marketing activities in each country to magnify the Synology messaging across to customers.
Describe some of your biggest successes in the region
Numerous public sector organisations and enterprises across industries in the region are Synology customers, including CNPC Abu Dhabi office, MBC group, and Lulu Hypermarket in the UAE, Holiday Inn in Saudi Arabia, the Department of Land and Survey in Jordan, to name a few. Thanks to the support from local channels and customers, our CAGR (compound annual growth rate) of the Middle East region in the past few years has been more than 30%, which is higher than average industry growth.
What are your regional goals for the rest of the year and beyond?
One of our major investments is in ensuring Synology channel partners are better skilled and equipped so that they can provide end customers with better support, a continuous effort since technology changes rapidly. In the short term, other than hosting Synology Solution Seminar and participating at GITEX, we hope to bring the Synology annual product launch event to the Middle East region. This year, Synology 2020 will see us host 12 events around the world. Finally, we established Synology Japan office in April 2018 and our goal is to have one in the Middle East region as well so that we could provide better service to local channel partners and end customers.