Updated 8/22/14: Real time transcoding is supported
Updated 8/18/14: Added It Management Station info
It's been a full year since we reviewed QNAP's QTS 4.0 operating system. In June, QNAP announced the release of a new version of the operating system - QTS 4.1. In Tim's recent review of the QNAP TS-470 Pro, he talked briefly about QTS 4.1. Following his review, he shipped the TS-470 Pro to me to take a more in-depth look at the new features of QTS 4.1.
You might expect a ".1" revision to an operating system to be a minor upgrade, but you'd only be partially correct. While many of the updates have added features to already robust applications, there are some significant new features - mostly aimed at enterprise customers, that make this upgrade worthy of a perhaps more significant numerical upgrade.
Very little has changed on the default landing page of QTS 4.0 to QTS 4.1, with the default set of installed apps looking very familiar. If you click on the square with three horizontal bars in the upper left corner of the screen, a top level menu will appear that is broken down into Applications, Systems, and, an unlabeled "other".
QNAP QTS 4.1 Menu
The Control Panel app is where you configure many, but not all of the settings for the NAS. The screenshot below shows the Control Panel layout for QTS 4.1. While the majority of the control panel items are the same as for QTS 4.0, there are few new ones that I'll be discussing shortly.
You can review the slideshows for the Control Panel and for the "Stations" on page one of the QTS 4.0 review. The screenshots, with limited exceptions, still represent what you'll see in QTS 4.1. If you want to wrap your hands around QTS 4.1 and explore a little further, QNAP has an online demo that you can try out.
QNAP QTS 4.1 Control Panel
QNAP's QTS 4.1 is its core operating system used throughout its entire product line. As QNAP develops more high-end products to appeal to business buyers, there are some features critical to enterprise customers that typical SOHO users wouldn't really care about. If fact, the major changes in QTS 4.1 address what enterprise customers might have seen as weaknesses of QTS 4.0. I'll talk about each briefly. Doug Reid will be taking a look at QTS' Virtualization Station in a separate review.
Storage Manager - Sometime between the QTS 4.0 and QNAP TS-470 Pro reviews, QNAP rolled out Flexible Volume Management. The Flexible Volume Architecture is based on four layers: Starting at the bottom of the image below, you have Hard Disk Management. The second layer is Storage Pool that consists of one or more RAID groups. The next higher level is the volume level where Volumes and Block-based LUNs (iSCSI) reside. Finally, at the top level is where Shared Folders reside. This four layer architecture can give enterprise customers the flexibility that they need to create, remove and expand volumes as business needs dictate.
FLM also supports the use of SSDs for caching. Tim covered the performance gains/losses associated with SSD caching in his performance analysis of the TS-470 Pro.
QNAP QTS 4.1 Flexible Volume Architecture
The graphic from QNAP's website, shown below, summarizes the advantages of Flexible Volume Management.
QNAP QTS-4.1 Flexible Volume Management Advantages
The SOHO customer isn't likely to ever need these advanced features. However, buried in the Storage Manager menus, there are some interesting features relating to Hard Disk health, testing and temperature that might be of interest. In my testing, I installed four WDC WD10EFRX "Red" 1.0 TB drives into the TS-470 Pro. As I booted up the device for the first time, the LCD screen offered to set up the RAID configuration for me.
I accepted the default RAID6 recommendation, but scrolling through the LCD Menu, I could have configured it for RAID 10, 5, 0, Single drive or JBOD. The default initialization put all four disks into a single storage pool and created a single volume that took up the entire space on the storage pool. Thus, I wasn't able to add a storage pool and expand the volume. The gallery walks you through other Storage Manager features.