ES1686dc: QNAP’s Next-Generation ZFS NAS Release

Back in 2016, QNAP was the first company to release a dual-controller NAS that effectively brought active-active high availability to the business world. With excellent support and compatibility, the company has realized rousing success of this audacious move. QNAP has gone further to bring you a new generation of Enterprise ZFS NAS solutions.

This month, the company has launched the ES1686dc, bringing you high-speed, high-availability, and non-disruption storage services. The new offering is packed with dual active-active backup architecture, support for up to 512 GB DDR4 ECC memory, and support for SAS 12 GB per second data transfer. Further, it brings you the latest QES operating system with advanced features like SnapSync, near-instant snapshot, instant data compression, and much more.

Whether you are looking for a device to support your desktop virtualization, high-availability file servers, mid-sized databases, virtual server, online video streaming, or efficient offsite and backup, this ES1686dc from QNAP is perfect.

Basic Features Overview

The Intel Xeon D dual-control design of this unit offers you a high reliability unit that’s perfect for storage, while alleviating your fears of possible single-point-of-failure scenario. BBU battery data protection helps in accelerating DRAM write cache and Flash read processes for ultra-fast write performance.

Included two M.2 SSD ports help you configure the SSD cache for even greater performance. Added are four 10GbE SFP+ networks that allow for accelerating virtualization process, sharing large files, and even dense data transfer needs. The almost unlimited snapshots are easily synchronized using the SnapSync feature, offering you a better way of building recovery plans in a shorter time than before.

The ES1686dc is available in three models, serving different market segments. The models include:

  • ES1686dc-2123IT-64G: Fitted with an Intel Xeon D-2123IT quad core processor with 64GB DDR4 ECC memory
  • ES1686dc-2145NT-96G: Fitted with an Intel Xeon D-2145NT 1.9 GHz processor with up to eight cores and 16 threads, and 96GB DDR4 ECC memory
  • ES1686dc-2145NT-128G: This model has an Intel Xeon D-2145NT processor combined with 128GB DDR4 ECC memory

Dual Active Controller Environment

The Active-Active architecture helps you run more services at the same time. Unlike the convectional Active-Standby single-ended architecture, the new environment ensures that no computing resources run idle.

The best way to take advantage of this feature is by creating several storage pools, and then deploying them uniformly between the two controllers. This allows better load balancing and processing power. Both controllers in the ES1686dc offer data access services with the help of Copy-To-Flash (C2F) as well as dual-path SAS interfaces.

Active-Standby single-controller system Active-Active dual-controller system
With two HA systems you are paying twice the price and causing a load imbalance as workloads are only processed on the active system. A power outage could cause data loss, and the disconnected network invalidates the HA architecture. Both controllers of the ES1686dc can carry traffic, along with Copy-To-Flash protection against power failure and the dual-path SAS interface. Besides conserving computing resources, a high-speed, uninterrupted, and high-availability storage service is also provided through communication protocols such as SMB, NFS and iSCSI.


Apart from making efficient use of computing resources, this technology also offers high-availability storage services at high speeds thanks to NFS, SMB, and iSCSI. The included architecture of the Intel Xeon D dual-control brings highly available services.

Intel Xeon D Processors

The ES1686dc is packed with dual high-performing Intel Xeon D processors with additional support for the Active-Active architecture. Once one of the controllers fails, the other one automatically takes over almost simultaneously.

Fault controllers have auxiliary heat exchange components in cases of fans, hard drives, controllers, and power supplies. The controllers also feature failback or failover functions that bring enterprises high-availability during downtime.


The ES1686dc is fitted with room capable of holding up to 16 drives, which can be 6 or 12 Gb/s SAS drives. The manufacturing company also offers you the option of replacing a few SAS drives with cheaper SATA drives with the help of QDA-SA adapters. This means the performance of the controller and drives with reduce this down to 6Gb/s for SATA, the SAS is 12 Gb/s, so SAS is highly advised for both SSD and HDD needs. The first 4 bays of the NAS holds the operating systems that means not all 4 bays but a small portion of it. If you require SSD caching, we would strongly recommend using the NVMe M.2 internally as opposed to drives (SSD). So, all the bays can be used as SSD or HDD.

The Software

In efforts to achieve near-zero downtime, the ES1686dc features battery-powered DRAM writes that prevent data corruption due to a power-loss. The NAS is capable of supporting Microsoft, VMware, and Citrix virtualization, with VMware Site Recovery Manager that offers remote backup and disaster recovery in case your virtualized application is down.

Running QNAP’s QES 2.1.0 operating system, the NAS supports all-flash arrays with the aid of data reduction and compression and de-duplication of inline data. OpenZFS used by QES provides you with RAID-like redundant file protection. However, compared to RAID software on the market, ZFS is aware of both virtual and physical disks, which means greater control for data corruption prevention.

NetBak Replicator is backup software capable of supporting VSS mechanism; organizations don’t have to invest in complex large-scale offerings. In addition, VSS Service, Provide, Snap Agent, and Requestor are all easy to run and operate.

Support for Windows Server 2016, VMware vSphere 6.5, and Citrix XenServer 7.0 means that the ES1686dc is flexible enough to handle virtualized environments. These environments include Microsoft ODX and VMware for offloading host loads and increasing efficiency. OpenStack cloud platform operations are further improved by device support for Manila shared folder and Cinder block storage services.

Compatibility for High-Speed Networks

ES1686dc is fitted with two PCIe Gen3 slots that are connected to the unit’s CPU for fast 10GbE and 40GbE network cards. This helps in boosting your business’ bandwidth demanding applications such as media streaming and virtualization. You can further benefit from iSER for an improved virtualization experience with the addition of Mellanox Smart NICs.



Overall, the ES1686dc is designed to offer businesses continuous operations and non-interrupted services. In fact, QNAP goes further to show its dedication to critical business needs by awarding users with a 5-year warranty at no extra cost. At this price point for a dual controller, active-active NAS, it’s the one to beat. Great Value for money.

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