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Need feedback from end users of XSan, FibreJet and SANmp

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James
Need feedback from end users of XSan, FibreJet and SANmp
on Jun 23, 2005 at 5:33:58 am

Hi everyone,
I'm in the process of selecting a SAN solution for my setup. I'll be having 4 FCP suites, 1 Graphics and 1 Protools. I'll be editing primarily using DVCPRO50 codec. Anyway, I need advise from current users of XSan, FibreJet and SANmp. I need to understand in detail what kind of limitations they have to tolerate etc... Thanks in advance for your valuable comment(s).

James


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Francois Stark
SANmp experience
on Jun 23, 2005 at 7:17:00 pm

Well, we've installed a SANMP system about two months ago. Had some teething problems but here's the summary:

What differentiates the systems:
-SanMP needs no Metadata server like XSAN.
-XSan can not be used as audio drive for Pro Tools.
-Fibrejet can not work with PC's - only os 9 and X.

So we decided on SanMP because we wanted to use our five seats like this: Four FCP systems and one PC, acting as a server for our graphics systems. After installing sanMP on the PC we found that the PC side had some disadvantages: It could not access our sanMP drives that we striped on the mac using apple disk utils. We wanted to use stripe sets to improve performance so that cancelled out most of the mac -> PC sharing we wanted. The Macopener that comes with sanMP is also limited to mounting 250GB GB NTFS volumes on the PC.

So we decided to move one of our 1.2TB Huge SCSI arrays from the FCP systems to the PC server and move the PC server's SanMP seat to Pro Tools. Well, both these systems work pretty well right now. The graphics server serves very efficiently, while we have run Pro Tools sessions with uncompressed video streams from different sanMP volumes. It's no use to have only one pro tools on a SAN, so we should be getting another seat for our second Pro Tools room soon.

The four FCP systems work fine. Each FCP system has a large sanMP volume it can write to, and it can read all the other systems' volumes. We also have a permanent volume for re-used graphics etc and a spare volume.

In terms of hardware we settled on the ADTX array because of the redundancy of the controllers: each controller can take over full control of all drives and raid arrays in the box. We also bought it for a little less that a similarly configured apple XRaid array. We also bought a QLogic 5200 fibre switch and five apple fibre cards.

If you can, get a reseller that has experience in setting up SAN for FCP systems (chrispy seems to be a good candidate) but if you have a hard head like me and want to do it yourself, here are a few hints:

- Once you figured out how LU mapping and masking works, make sure every port on the drive array maps a LU 0 to the clients. I started with LU 1 and none of my clients wanted to see any LU's.
- Our G4 systems did not want to see the LU's properly on os X.3.9. We went back to os X.3.4 on the G4's and then they worked fine.
- Don't jump in to new OS updates without proper testing. Rather install the os you want to test in a firewire drive partition and then install client apps like FCP and SanMP. Test from the firewire drive, while leaving your production boot partition for real work. We should continue testing tiger this way soon - our preliminary tests on the G4's indicate that tiger also does not allow the G4's to see the LU's properly. If you don't see the LU's, SanMP can not run because it needs to convert normal NTFS drives to sanMP drives.

In the end we could have used Fibrejet because we don't have a PC on our SAN.

Regards
Francois









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eric the aardvark
Re: SANmp experience
on Jun 23, 2005 at 9:28:36 pm

wow, what a great post! thanks for sharing your experiences for the rest of us.


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James
Re: SANmp experience
on Jun 24, 2005 at 3:25:34 am

Francois,
thank you for sharing your experience. That was very valuable information on SANmp. I personally am a bit concerned about XSan's capability to share files based on some feedback got from this forum as well as others.
I thought about SANmp due to the fact that it is volume sharing and can allow at least 2 users to access the same project in the same volume(am I right to say this?) and best of all allows Protools to access the volumes. However that is not a prerequisite.
Then I came across FibreJet which I thought was great since it supports Protools besides being a file sharing SAN solution. But I haven't heard of anyone using it and hearing what they have to say about FibreJet's performance and robustness. It's inability to operate cross-platform doesn't concern me though.
Once again thank you Francois, for sharing your experience.
Anyone else out there used FibreJet in their setup?

JL


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Francois Stark
Re: SANmp experience
on Jun 24, 2005 at 6:57:50 am

Fibrejet and SanMP are examples of volume based sharing. They only allow one user to write to one volume at one time, but all users can read from that volume at the same time.

EG you can digitise all media for a project to one volume and then four FCP suites can each run their own project using the same media from this one volume, OR you can digitise on three FCP suites to their three volumes concurrently, and edit the material on the fourth suite once the digitising is done.

SanMP's project managment is a bit more complicated that on file-based sharing systems like XSAN where all users can write to all volumes, so in most cases you will just set up one very large volume where all users work.

Regards
Francois


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Floh
FibreJet
by
on Jun 24, 2005 at 1:34:07 pm

We


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Francois Stark
Re: FibreJet
on Jun 26, 2005 at 4:05:46 pm

Can you use Apple's standard disk utility repair tools on a fibrejet volume?


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Floh
Re: FibreJet
by
on Jun 26, 2005 at 6:52:37 pm

Yes, you can use Apple DiskUtility as well as DiskWarrior & Co on FibreJet volumes. This is one of the advantages of using a Apple standard filesystem.


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Bart Harrison
Re: SANmp experience
on Jul 4, 2005 at 2:31:09 pm

[Francois Stark] "The Macopener that comes with sanMP is also limited to mounting 250GB GB NTFS volumes on the PC."


Francois, you are using Macopener to access NTFS volumes ???

Bart

- - - - - - - - - - - - -
Bart Harrison
MPA - The HD Suite

America's VAR
TurnKey Editing Systems, Storage Area Networks
HD Consulting, Production & Post, Exhibition & Distribution
http://www.hdsuite.com
954-894-1221


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Francois Stark
Re: SANmp experience
on Jul 15, 2005 at 5:13:48 am

Hi Bart

Sorry for the late reply - the question was hidden down here.

[Bart Harrison] "Francois, you are using Macopener to access NTFS volumes ???"

I see I made a mistake - macopener is needed to open HFS+ volumes on a PC, and the one shipping with sanMP is limited to 250GB.

Still waiting for ADTX / Apple to sort out tiger. Yesterday I accidentally figured out that even booting into tiger with the ADTX connected, without mounting any LU's or even installing SANMP causes the other SANMP clients to go weird. Tiger must be writing stuff to the ADTX box which causes this, so for now I'm stuck on Panther.

Regards
Francois


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John McClary
Re: Need feedback from end users of XSan, FibreJet and SANmp
on Jul 5, 2005 at 5:22:17 pm

If you're considering SanMP, you really need to also consider Facilis Terrablock. It runs OSX and Windows, has NO client license fees, and almost administers itself (rare for a Fibre Channel system). With 2Gb and 4Gb clients, it is very fast. To speed up digitizing we use three clients at a time.

Cons: (1)volume based system so only one can write to a volume at a time. We keep our projects locally so we have few limitations from that and you can switch writing permission at any time. (2)creating a new volume can take about 2 minutes. We create our volumes with the original project so we have few problems. (3)the volumes seem to perform best with 1,500 to 1,800 files (limit is 2,000 per volume). We keep all our dissolves and titles on the local machine so again, no problems. Last, the system tops out at 19.6Gb capacity.

John McClary


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chrispy
Re: Need feedback from end users of XSan, FibreJet and SANmp
on Jul 8, 2005 at 2:40:27 am

John...do you mean to say it tops out at 19.6TB instead...coz 19.6GB is not alot nowadays.

So do you have a local array to keep your dissolves/titles or you're just using the internal drives ?

-chrispy


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John McClary
Re: Need feedback from end users of XSan, FibreJet and SANmp
on Jul 12, 2005 at 5:31:54 pm

Sorry - yes, 19.6 Terrabytes. We just use local drive(s) for dissolves and any effects that won't be shared. It keeps the volumes cleaner. We run the Terrablock with offline suites at the moment so single drives are fast enough. We are adding the Online suite plus five more offline rooms later this month.

John McClary


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The_Chinese
Re: Need feedback from end users of XSan, FibreJet and SANmp
on Aug 3, 2005 at 11:32:27 pm

I have much Experience with SANmp and XSAN.... If you're doing audio, SANmp hands down. XSAN will not read a PT session, and PT will not even see the XSAN volume. A SANmp Fibre based system is great, but even the iSCSI systems are impressive as well. i installed one into our facility in Thailand, and it gets over 100+ tracks off of a drive with no issues. XSAN does have some cool features for the video side, but all in all I like SNS's stuff better. Also, their Customer Service is absolutely the best in the business. no $199 tech support calls!!! It's not that XSAN is a bad system, because I actually think it's pretty cool, but SNS is just without peer.

My.02

-Todd A.

-Todd A.


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Michael Gossen
Re: Need feedback from end users of XSan, FibreJet and SANmp
on Jan 30, 2008 at 12:15:43 am

Wait, you can see a XSAN volume from a Pro Tools bay as well as a PC too...

In an FCP enviornment, you can easily AFP/SMB mount from those clients (or better a seperate server). You don't need anything more than DV really to mix, which you should easily be able to pull over ethernet. Same goes for PC, unless you are editing/GFX at full resolution. But you can see you at least have access. Not over fibre, but fast enough to mix for sure...

To me, XSAN is the best for multiple FCP users. The only drawback in my mind is the 2GB/s XRAID Fibre limit. That limits online a little, unless you want to have many XRAIDS. Otherwise, I would also tend to recommend Facilis' Terrablock. Like SanMP without all the management...

Best of luck.

Michael Gossen

Helium Digital Media


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