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Exclusive interview with Synology’s Joanne Taylor

While the final result from KitGuru’s latest poll has yet to be confirmed, the majority of NAS users who expressed a preference – choose Synology as their ‘Best NAS device manufacturer’. Following on from that, it seemed like a great idea to put an expert in the KitGuru hot chair and grill them about technology in the 21st century. Welcome Joanne Taylor, Synology marketing guru.

Newport Pagnell is a town that Brits created to keep Luton away from Northampton – before Milton Keynes was invented. It’s where Joanne grew up and she’s well aware that this is where baby Aston Martins are born. Not something that most young ladies would know – so we suspect she’s always been a geek.

When she tells us how happy she was with the Atari 2600 that her dad bought for the family when she was a kid, we know we’re on the right track with our suspicions.

We started off by asking Joanne about the market as a whole and how Synology will deal with the mini-boom expected in 2013/14.

“Are we ready? Absolutely”, she exclaimed. “With more PCs in the market, that means an increase in storage requirements and that’s where Synology comes in”.

Will that happen with the products that her company already has in the market, we wondered?

“As the leading NAS company, Synology is always researching, developing and introducing products”, she explained. “Innovation is important and, in the near future, you will see the world’s first NAS products with built in Wi-Fi and even NAS storage devices capable of holding up to 400TB”.

With a smile, “And that’s still just the beginning for Synology”.

This industry is full of people that don't really care about the underlying technology itself. It's refreshing to meet someone like Joanne who cherishes her inner-geek and understands her product range in-depth

Here at KitGuru, we’re very fond of the future. We’ve even considered sponsoring it when the existing agreement runs out. So does Joanne see the future being made up of spinning disks or solid state devices?

“Good question”, she replied. “We do see SSD dominating the HDD market in the future, based on their reliability, performance and eco-friendliness. Also, they just run cooler, which is cool.  But we’re realistic and don’t expect this to happen very soon. The costs associated with SSD are still high and the technology will continue to mature for some time yet”.

Most companies in most markets, will have bread and butter products that allow for the development of the show case items. For example, with cars, the cash flow comes from selling tons of Fiats to the world, which allows for the development of Ferraris.

While we get positively tingly at the thought of 400 TB of storage in the garage, arguably the most popular NAS of recent times has been the very affordable DS212. Can Synology repeat that success?

“Yes”, said Joanne, emphatically. “Our products are not only technology leading, but they are also high performance, priced to sell and feature balanced”.

“Overall, that means our customers get good value for money”, she explained. “The DS213 has just been launched to replace the DS212. While the price point stays the same, it has a better specification and better performance. We expect the Synology DS213 to be just as popular as the DS212 – maybe more so”.

Speaking about improvements, the hardware is just one part of the equation. We asked Joanne about Synology’s underlying software technology.

“The most important part of the software is DSM, the DiskStation Manager”, she told us. “This is the operating system for Synology NAS in the same way as Windows for a PC or Mountain Lion for a Mac”.

“The latest version, DSM 4.1, has been made available as a public beta and we were really impressed that more than 80,000 people downloaded it”, said Joanne.

We pondered that number for a second. While many KitGuru readers will update their graphics drivers on a regular basis, the same cannot be said for the population as a whole. When it comes to something like a NAS box, if it was working fine and your data was secure – what would possess you to want to update the software?  Given how small a percentage of technology owners are likely to be tempted to upgrade software on a working data storage and back-up system – anything close to 100,000 downloads is actually a huge number.

“This is our most successful beta testing programme to date”, she confirmed. “We’re over the moon and it’s cool to know that so many customers are watching Synology for updates and improvements”.

We asked about specifics and were told, “There are a lot of new features, including VAAI, Video Station, the Surveillance Station 6, Mail Server and the new Timeline in Photo Station”.

When KitGuru spent time with Synology at Computex 2012 in Taipei, we noticed a lot more emphasis on security. We asked Joanne about this.

“In general, we have encryption features to secure your data on our NAS, regardless of how you transfer and access it”, she told us. “In addition, for people wanting to add surveillance to their property, the new Surveillance Station 6 is a re-vamped, easier, quicker and affordable way of adding IP cameras into your premises. With one Synology NAS, your data is highly secured in both home and business environment, with the addition of IP Surveillance”.

Enough about Synology as a company, we wanted to finish on Joanne as a person. For that, we wheeled out the KitGuru Standard Psychometric Assessment Test or SPAT for short. OK, it’s not quite that scientific, but we do ask all of our interviewees about cars and food!

Given that she’s been an Atari 2600-loving geek her whole life, what would Joanne’s perfect driving day look like?

“Heading down a Pacific highway in an Aston Martin Vantage S Coupe, with my best friend Kirsty in the passenger seat while we sing along at full volume, and no shame at all, to the Backstreet Boys!”

What about munchies?

“If I need to cook myself and impress friends and family, it has to be BBQ all the way. But no matter how hard I try, I can’t make a curry that’s anywhere near as flavoursome as my local take away. So, for the Indian spices, I’d be forced to buy from an expert”.

Last question, if you could invent anything, what would it be?

With a smile, “Sorry, couldn’t say – you might steal my idea!”

There was something about "I want it that way", and "Smooth, stylish, leather-clad and tactile", but we can't remember if we were speaking about the Aston Martin's dashboard or not

KitGuru says: We thank Joanne for taking the time to share a little about what Synology will be doing in 2012 – as well as planting a strange version of Thelma and Louise in our heads that involves Aston Martins and the Back Street Boys. One thing is for sure, data transmission speeds need to increase for NAS to move to the next level. As a back up solution, NAS works great. As a collaborative working tool for video files etc, we need to see increased speed. Maybe that’s where Synology’s new Wi-Fi enabled storage device comes in.

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