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Bob Zelin
sad initial impressions of LairdShare
on May 23, 2008 at 10:43:47 pm

At NAB, I spent a lot of time looking at low cost SAN systems. One of these systems was the new LairdShare. It looked teriffic, and I deal with Markertek on an almost daily basis ordering parts, so having an affiliation with one of their products (they own Laird), I figured this might be teriffic.

On another forum (I think it was FCP-L), the designer of Lairdshare -DVDAN23 or DANDV23 - posted some comments on LairdShare. I thought this would be a cool thing to look into, and emailed him some questions. They were never responded to. Laird has a user group, with only 2 comments or questions, so I tried to join the Laird user group. I was never granted "approval" to join the user group to ask questions.

I am writing this right now 5/23/08, because I received a call from Colin at Laird today, wanting to know if I needed more information on LairdShare (we met at NAB). So I have been on the phone on hold for the last 30 minutes with Laird, trying to call Colin back at
800 898 0759, x7316. But no one answers.

SO what happens when you buy LairdShare - and have a problem ? I am trying to get some preliminary sales information, about basic configuration questions, and I can't email anyone, I can't speak to anyone.

I feel validated about "bitching" about LairdShare (before I even get started), since I give Markertek my business on EVERY FACILITY INSTALLATION that I have done since I moved to Florida in 1999. Markertek (and TecNec) are truly great companies, but if they ever expect for LairdShare to be a real product, maybe they should have some way of contacting them, to ask some basic questions.

I only hope that someone from Laird replies back, with some sort of answer to this.

Bob Zelin


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Chris Blair
Re: sad initial impressions of LairdShare
on May 24, 2008 at 4:29:37 am

I recently brought up this very same point in a post about other shared storage companies.

While researching the exact same thing you are...reasonably priced shared storage solutions, just about every company we contacted either didn't respond to inquiries, took days to do so, or when they did respond, didn't or couldn't answer the handful of questions I asked. Sorry...but this is gonna be a long post!

Emails sent requesting information went unanswered...phone calls went unreturned...and promised follow-ups never came.

We contacted all the major players in the under $25,000 arena...and a couple in the $35-$50,000 range.

The only companies that provided good service were Apace systems, Tiger Technologies and Aberdeen Systems. We contacted roughly 20 companies. Most sold complete systems, but a few were software or hardware only, like Tiger, which sells SAN software, and Aberdeen, which sells hardware.

Of the other companies, the ones that did finally respond usually did so with convoluted and confusing product descriptions or pricing lists...or in some cases, with recommendations or technical information that was flat-out wrong. Others made the technology out to be so complicated that it would require a team of IT experts to install and administer the system.

The company we chose (Apace), won not so much for their product's capabilties or price (which were certainly important), but mostly because they gave us unbelievable service. Their reseller, IEEE, inc. answered emails within hours, and returned phone calls the same day, usually within the hour. They spent hours on the phone with us in conference calls prior to the sale explaining and demoing the product. Their engineers spent literally 3-5 hours setting up our system remotely...taking control of each PC on the network and tweaking settings. They did this two afternoons in a row...acting as if we were the only client they had.

After a power outage...when I couldn't find the power switch to turn the unit back on (it's the size of a pin head), I called, got a live-person immediately, and was up and running in seconds. Now granted...I'm pretty much an idiot for not being able to find a power switch...but it's the only thing I've had to call for since the unit was installed 3 months ago. It defragments itself automatically and best of all works as advertised.

Bernard at Tiger Technologies was also very helpful and very responsive...and we seriously considered his product coupled with other hardware.

I just couldn't imagine buying from some of the other companies. Many didn't seem to have a clue about how their systems worked...how shared storage systems work in general...or didn't seem to care about our requirements.

Most ignored my brief, consice list of requirements, which was copied into every email sent and read into each phone message I left. The sales person would ask me questions I had already answered in detail. One company made me fill out a long, poorly laid out PDF form before they'd give me more information. I had literally answered all the questions in my initial email...but that wasn't good enough...they couldn't provide a quote or answer my questions until I put that same information into their crappy, confusing form.

Companies would repeatedly tout how well their system worked with Avid or Final Cut...until I pointed out that we used Harris VelocityQ editing systems...a fact that was explained in detail in all initial emails and phone calls.

Some of these companies are among the biggest names in the shared storage business! How they got there I have no clue. Maybe they're going through growing pains. All I know is if I don't respond to our client's emails within 24 hours, and follow through on what we say we're going to do for them...they don't stay our client very long.

I'll take the small company with a solid product and great customer service over the big Kahuna with the fancy product and indifferent service every day of the week.

It doesn't do much good to turn out a great product if your sales people can't sell it and your customer service people can't fix it.





Chris Blair
Magnetic Image, Inc.
Evansville, IN
http://www.videomi.com


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Bob Zelin
Re: sad initial impressions of LairdShare
on May 24, 2008 at 2:09:22 pm

I agree with Chris. Although I wound up ultimately going with Tiger Technology MetaLAN (I will discuss the details of this in another post), I too found that Tiger Technology and Apace Systems were the ONLY very responsive companies, that were eager to answer every question, eager to send out eval units, eager to help insure that the systems were setup properly, and working without issue. I might add at this time that solutions from Tiger Technology and Apace are also the LEAST EXPENSIVE out there.

This is not to say that LairdShare is not an excellent solution. I want to find out more - but I simply can't - nothing on the Laird Telemedia website, no repies from my emails, impossible for me to join their website user forum.

I was also recently intrigued by a company called 2degreesfrost, owned by Robin Frost, who has recently started to discuss his hi speed SAN system on the XSAN forum of Cow. It seems like a teriffic product, but when I went to ask some tough questions (they use MetaSAN as their user interface, but their own hardware solution) - he did not respond. Their website made it impossible to find out details of their system, and when I went to search for places to purchase this system (MacMall or MacConnection - it's on their website) - neither company listed 2degreesfrost. I am not saying this is not a wonderful, unique, teriffic SAN solution - it's just that I cant get any information from the company.

This is why I chose Tiger Technology MetaLAN, and this is why if I had to make a second choice right now, I would definately choose Apace.

Bob Zelin




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Chris Blair
Re: sad initial impressions of LairdShare
on May 26, 2008 at 11:21:39 pm

Bob,

Interesting to hear you had a similar experience and found similar results from a customer service standpoint. I don't see how the other companies sell anything to anyone if our experience was indicative of their general customer service practices. The customer service from Tiger Technology and Apace (and their reseller IEEE, inc.) weren't just good...they were great.

It's a shame they've not cornered a larger market share. If they keep it up...I hope they will.

Chris Blair
Magnetic Image, Inc.
Evansville, IN
http://www.videomi.com


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John McClary
Re: sad initial impressions of LairdShare
on May 27, 2008 at 12:49:17 am

The price point of 35k and under includes Facilis Terrablock and they have a solution even in the under 25K ballpark. They answer the phone immediately and always are quick to work out any questions/problems. They work more through VARs now but still are quick and informative.

Don't discount the obvious solutions. Terrablocks are really inexpensive if you use the already included connections(4?) and don't need an external switch.

John McClary


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Chris Blair
Re: sad initial impressions of LairdShare
on May 28, 2008 at 1:38:11 am

When I did research for our facility, I did literally scores of searches for shared storage solutions for video editing, and Facilis Terrablock never once came up in the searches. I probably used 25 different search terms and would go 8-10 pages deep within each search. These included using acronyms like SAN, shared storage for video editing and dozens more. I did research on and off for literally a month, usually spending several hours a week looking at web sites, reading brochures, calling companies, requesting demos, specs, price quotes etc.

During all that, I didn't even know they existed. I also did searches on this list and I only recall one hit that listed their product...and it was when we were deep into the evaluation process.

By that time we had ruled out SAN solutions for a variety of reasons, notably, we'd need to add new fibre channel HBA's to 5 workstations as well as new cabling, but the biggest one being the way SAN systems work. We wanted true file sharing from a common media pool and there were only a handful of products that met that criteria without requiring constant logging on/off of volumes and assigning read/write priveleges.

In my opinion, Facilis needs to do a better job optimizing their web site search terms...as well as marketing their product. We might have considered them, but we ended up spending under $15,000 for a solution that works great for our needs, including all cabling, a new switch, and installation and configuration. So I doubt they could've come close to that price considering we would've had to add fibre channel HBA's and cabling..and that's only if we had direct connected to the unit and foregone a fibre channel switch, which adds several thousand more to the cost.




Chris Blair
Magnetic Image, Inc.
Evansville, IN
http://www.videomi.com


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Tim Johnson
Re: sad initial impressions of LairdShare
on Jun 4, 2008 at 9:01:46 pm

Chris - Can I ask which solution you ended up choosing? We are trying to find a low cost of entry option for multiple editing points sharing storage in a workgroup and we were intrigued by the LairdShare but Apace seems to be a good alternative and the price point you got is more inline with what we were looking to get.



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Walter Zamojski
Re: sad initial impressions of LairdShare
on Jun 4, 2008 at 4:41:34 pm

In response to Bob, Robin Frost is the CTO of 2 Degrees and very busy being CTO. If there is fault in getting answers it may be with me. I'm one of the reps at 2 Degrees Frost and I welcome any questions you may have. I know this is not a forum for relaying messages but you may get in touch with me and I'd be glad to pass them on.

wz2degrees


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Walter Zamojski
Re: sad initial impressions of LairdShare
on Jun 4, 2008 at 6:37:13 pm

What questions does Bob have of 2 Degrees Frost Storage Solutions. Please post and I'll respond.

wz2degrees


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Bob Zelin
Re: now 2degreesfrost (not LairdShare)
on Jun 4, 2008 at 9:03:28 pm

From the XSan forum, Robin writes -
everyone on this forum thread seems to be equating 'Ethernet' with 'TCP/IP over Ethernet' which SATA-SAN storage is not using.

REPLY - please explain your connectivity - are you using Gig Ethernet, aggrigated 2 port Gig ethernet, 10 Gig E or Fibre channel with a fibre card in the host (and a fibre switch) ?



Robin writes -
With the 2Degrees SATA-SAN products we're running a real SAN using raw ethernet - multi-GbE or 10GbE - as the storage fabric instead of fibre channel. SATA-SAN storage sends SATA disk commands and data over Ethernet using raw ethernet packets at full wire speed i.e. >100MB/sec, maxing out at ~110MB/s per Gigabit connection. No IP is involved which is chatty and slow.

REPLY - this is confusing to me. You are using Tiger Technology MetaSAN or Charismac Fibre Jet as your interface (as per your website), but your connectivity is "raw ethernet" - is this aggrigated port ethernet, or 10Gig E ? The client edit computer has to have some way of plugging into your storage - how does it plug in ?


The SATA-over-Ethernet protocol used is a mature protocol which provides reliable and fast delivery using raw point-to-point ethernet transport. Device discovery is almost instant and plug-and-play without IP setup hassles or limitations.

REPLY - this is called AoE, correct ? again, when we plug the client workstation (FCP) into your "box", is it a single Gig E cable, 2 Gig E cables, a CX4 10Gig cable ? Does it plug into a central switch ? Is the switch part of your product, that holds the drives ?


Robin writes -
We have 2x 1GbE ports on the SATA-SAN Dual GbE units and both of them can be used at the same time at wire speed to read and write from any raid set in the unit. So the Dual GbE SATA-SAN storage achieves >200MB/sec, maxing out at ~220MB/sec. With SATA-SAN 10GbE storage units we achieve >500MB/sec sustained throughput and ~800-900MB/sec out of the cache. That's faster than 4Gb fibre channel...

REPLY - I was told by several people (and all could be wrong, and I certainly am no expert) that running a dual aggrigated etherenet port on the client workstation would not increase the bandwidth to the server computer that runs the storage. Does running AoE resolve this issue, giving the ability to get over 200mb/sec from dual Gig E interface ?


SATA-SAN is an exciting cost-effective alternative to fibre channel with all the benefits of a simpler multi-GbE or 10GbE infrastructure.

REPLY - existing solutions use multi Gig E using link aggrigation protocol in managed switches (with multi port ethernet cards) to obtain larger "pipes", but there is still limited bandwidth using ethernet to the CLIENT workstation. Does your solution resolve this issue ?


Bob mentioned MetaLAN - this uses TCP/IP to provide gatewayed access over the LAN to a SAN, so this will only run around 50MB/sec at usual LAN speeds. MetaLAN is similar to running iSCSI which is also slow. We often supply MetaLAN to gateway into our SATA-SAN storage networks running MetaSAN allowing some users to access SAN data at LAN speeds.

REPLY - doesn't 2degreesfrost specify MetaSAN as their user interface on their website ? If I am wrong, what is your user interface - is it propriatary (unique to your company) ?

FROM THE 2DEGREESFROST WEBSITE -
With 2ºFrost's proprietary SAN-Adapt™ software, SATA-SAN supports cross-platform SAN shared filesystems FibreJet and MetaSAN which provide complementary high-performance cross-platform approaches to SAN file and volume sharing for content creation, video and audio editing SAN workgroups and shared Server storage.

We've worked with both of these companies to bring their software to the SATA-SAN platform and integrate it into our solution-level offerings.






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Robin Frost
Re: now 2degreesfrost (not LairdShare)
on Jun 7, 2008 at 12:23:22 am

Bob, thanks for your questions, here we go...

From the XSan forum, Robin writes -
everyone on this forum thread seems to be equating 'Ethernet' with 'TCP/IP over Ethernet' which SATA-SAN storage is not using.


REPLY - please explain your connectivity - are you using Gig Ethernet, aggrigated 2 port Gig ethernet, 10 Gig E or Fibre channel with a fibre card in the host (and a fibre switch) ?

[answer] Our connectivity is Ethernet - but raw Ethernet i.e. point-to-point, mac-address to mac-address, without the overhead of TCP/IP, as stated above. We can use any number of GbE ports or 10GbE ports, copper or fiber. We are not 'link aggregating' ports like in TCP/IP as we don't need to. We don't use or need fibre channel although we can easily coexist with legacy fibre channel storage which gives our customers a great upgrade path.

Robin writes -
With the 2Degrees SATA-SAN products we're running a real SAN using raw ethernet - multi-GbE or 10GbE - as the storage fabric instead of fibre channel. SATA-SAN storage sends SATA disk commands and data over Ethernet using raw ethernet packets at full wire speed i.e. >100MB/sec, maxing out at ~110MB/s per Gigabit connection. No IP is involved which is chatty and slow.


REPLY - this is confusing to me. You are using Tiger Technology MetaSAN or Charismac Fibre Jet as your interface (as per your website), but your connectivity is "raw ethernet" - is this aggrigated port ethernet, or 10Gig E ? The client edit computer has to have some way of plugging into your storage - how does it plug in ?

[answer] Let me say it another way. Our connectivity is Ethernet, running the lightweight and fast SATA-over-Ethernet protocol without IP. There are no limitations as we are not 'aggregating' ports, all ports are active all the time. The client computers just plug into a commodity Ethernet switch(es) which the storage is also connected to. Clients can even direct connect e.g. with a six GbE port storage unit you can direct connect six workstations for >100MB/sec each, great for editing workgroups with compressed HD formats.

By the way, we are not using MetaSAN or Commandsoft's (not Charismac's) FibreJet as our 'interface'. Our website mentions these are part of our software stacks that we provide to meet our customer's need for file-level or volume-level sharing on the SAN. The actual UIs are different depending on the software stack. If customers don't have a need for sharing then they can access Raid sets or even JBOD drives from workstations as extra storage. It's very flexible.


The SATA-over-Ethernet protocol used is a mature protocol which provides reliable and fast delivery using raw point-to-point ethernet transport. Device discovery is almost instant and plug-and-play without IP setup hassles or limitations.

REPLY - this is called AoE, correct ? again, when we plug the client workstation (FCP) into your "box", is it a single Gig E cable, 2 Gig E cables, a CX4 10Gig cable ? Does it plug into a central switch ? Is the switch part of your product, that holds the drives ?

[answer] Any or All of the above, as all ports are active all of the time, so we can use one or two or six GbE ports/cables, or a 10GbE CX4 or 10GbE fiber connection, individually or all together. We use commodity Ethernet switches and design the best architecture for each client, which can be centralized or not depending on the application.

Robin writes -
We have 2x 1GbE ports on the SATA-SAN Dual GbE units and both of them can be used at the same time at wire speed to read and write from any raid set in the unit. So the Dual GbE SATA-SAN storage achieves >200MB/sec, maxing out at ~220MB/sec. With SATA-SAN 10GbE storage units we achieve >500MB/sec sustained throughput and ~800-900MB/sec out of the cache. That's faster than 4Gb fibre channel...


REPLY - I was told by several people (and all could be wrong, and I certainly am no expert) that running a dual aggrigated etherenet port on the client workstation would not increase the bandwidth to the server computer that runs the storage. Does running AoE resolve this issue, giving the ability to get over 200mb/sec from dual Gig E interface ?

[answer] You're right, they're wrong. They are applying the usual rules of IP based Ethernet which do not apply to us. As stated before, we are not 'link aggregating'. With our software it truly does make sense for us to run two GigE cables from each FCP workstation to double the bandwidth to >200Mb/s.


SATA-SAN is an exciting cost-effective alternative to fibre channel with all the benefits of a simpler multi-GbE or 10GbE infrastructure.

REPLY - existing solutions use multi Gig E using link aggrigation protocol in managed switches (with multi port ethernet cards) to obtain larger "pipes", but there is still limited bandwidth using ethernet to the CLIENT workstation. Does your solution resolve this issue ?

[answer] Yes, it does resolve this issue. Please see last [answer].


Bob mentioned MetaLAN - this uses TCP/IP to provide gatewayed access over the LAN to a SAN, so this will only run around 50MB/sec at usual LAN speeds. MetaLAN is similar to running iSCSI which is also slow. We often supply MetaLAN to gateway into our SATA-SAN storage networks running MetaSAN allowing some users to access SAN data at LAN speeds.

REPLY - doesn't 2degreesfrost specify MetaSAN as their user interface on their website ? If I am wrong, what is your user interface - is it propriatary (unique to your company) ?

[answer] MetaSAN is not our user interface but is part of one of our software stacks. MetaSAN (or FibreJet) will not work on its own with our SATA-SAN storage, we had to develop our own proprietary software which form the other layers of our software stacks that together deliver complete SAN software solutions. There are different UIs for the different software stacks.

Thanks for your interest and I trust these answers above are helpful to you. SATA-SAN is a disruptive technology so one does need to get one's head around some new thinking.


Robin Frost
CTO
2ºFrost Data Solutions
http://www.2degreesfrost.com

"Seriously Cool Storage"


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Bob Zelin
Re: 2degrees comments
on Jun 6, 2008 at 2:06:19 am

Hi Walter -
in 2005, Robin was working on ATA over Ethernet -

"In 2005, Robin Frost quietly posted a note on the Apple Forums that he was developing an ATA over Ethernet storage product for Mac OS X. ATA over Ethernet works below the IP level and is very fast — Frost says you get over 100 MB per second on each Ethernet port.

Now, in 2007, Coraid seems to take responsibility for developing ATA over Ethernet -
http://coraid.com/index.html

From the 2frost website -

Using Mac AoE turnkey storage, single disks or RAID sets of disks are published as 'AoE Drives' on the network where they can be discovered, formatted and partitioned, and then used just like regular ATA drives - but in a shared network environment.

The 2ºFrost AoE Driver™ for Mac OS X provides Mac Users with the ability to directly access Mac AoE disks and/or RAID sets on the network as if they were locally attached ATA drives.

• Automatically supports Ethernet 9000-byte "Jumbo Frames" for maximum performance
• Automatically supports multiple ethernet cards/ports for connecting AoE storage
• New proprietary technology provides auto discovery and auto mounting of AoE devices attached to a Mac.

REPLY - this surely sounds very interesting, and companies like Coraid make the arrays. I wish you could commment more on this.

I found this driver on PCMALL for $399, but not the entire turnkey system that Robin was describing -
PC Mall Part #: 7297314

OOPS !!!! found it -
PC Mall Part #: 7297302
You get the 2Frost SAN with 5 Terabytes of shared storage in a Linux box for $21,869.99. Now is this self contained - does it require a host computer (like Lairdshare) to control the Metadata, or run MetaSAN - or what. Are there any details that you would like to tell us ? The PC Mall descripition states that this is only for 3 client workstations.

Bob Zelin






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Robin Frost
Re: sad initial impressions of LairdShare (NOT)
on Jun 6, 2008 at 1:51:05 am

Bob,

I apologize for not answering this new post earlier, but I have been working on a CTO-level project and am not 'always on the Cow'.

The 'tough questions' you say you asked were by posting somewhere on the Cow rather than emailing or calling us. They are not tough, but easy questions to answer and I will address these here in the forums shortly.

We pride ourselves on a quick response to customer inquiries by email or phone, neither of which you appear to have tried. There is also a customer inquiry form on our website that you are welcome to use and receive a quick response.

As an example, we received an inquiry from a previous poster on this thread and we responded to him within a couple of hours with a call and several Info PDFs. He managed to contact us...

Regarding PCMall, they recently updated their system and the link to our landing page is temporarily broken. But we are still there - just search under "SATA-SAN" or "2Degrees Frost" and you will find a long list of example SKUs. Their pricing is somewhat high compared to our current pricing because they have not yet updated their website.

All the SATA-SAN storage systems are BTO and available directly from us or via PC/Mac Mall on application.

Thanks for your interest and please feel free to call or email WalterZ regarding any questions you may have.

Robin Frost
CTO
2ºFrost Data Solutions
http://www.2degreesfrost.com

"Seriously Cool Storage"


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John McClary
Re: sad initial impressions of LairdShare now 2DegreesFrost
on Jun 7, 2008 at 4:06:16 am

I don't know their pricing structure but I found a press release from Jan 2007 that listed one of 2DegreeFrost's 11.25Tb drive systems for under $15K.
http://coraid.vnewscenter.com/press.jsp?id=1168260695635

That was last year and that was without cards, but it's one of the better prices I've seen for this stuff. I am about to base our post workflow on ONE of these systems (Editshare, Facilis, 2DegreeFrost, Apace, etc....) and now really wish I'd been at NAB.

If only I could edit with each one for a while and test for any quirks.... Has there ever been a "SAN shootout" challenge?

John McClary


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Bob Zelin
Re: sad initial impressions of LairdShare now 2DegreesFrost
on Jun 7, 2008 at 2:58:22 pm

John,
the decision I ultimately made was based strictly on support, not performance. Since this is not a simple "plug and play" project, I urge you to call all of these companies, and see who you feel comftorable with, and who you feel will give you the best support. The fastest system in the world will mean nothing, if you can't get it to work.

bob Zelin




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Chris Blair
Re: Now 2 Degrees Frost
on Jun 12, 2008 at 2:48:15 am

In regard to Robin's note about priding themselves on quick response. When we were researaching shared storage solutions back in the early part of this year, we submitted a detailed information request on the website contact form and never received a reply.

After that I submitted a detailed direct email to sales@2degreesfrost.com and also never received a reply. Had we gotten a reply I would've almost certainly followed up with phone calls.

We check our spam filters daily (through Clean Mail), and I'm especially diligent at checking when I'm waiting for a reply from a company I've emailed for the first time.

It doesn't do much good to have a website, contact form and direct email contacts if they can't get through to people or if they go unanswered. I can only assume they were filtered or simply went unread.

Many facility owners on the Cow are like me. Just about every workday is spent editing, shooting or meeting with clients. I do all my equipment and facility research in the evenings online. Then do phone inquiries, conference calls etc. in one big batch on a slow day.

We researched probably 20 different solutions when we were looking at shared storage. I simply didn't have the time to call each and every one of them, explain in detail our needs, and then listen to the answers

Anyway...we were intrigued by your products, but ultimately spent our time evaluating the products from people that seemed to want our business. As noted in earlier posts, that included barely a handful of companies.

As an aside, we also contacted Coraid. They took over a week to respond to an initial email...and the response we got was so vague...so cryptic in it's product explanation, that I immediately crossed them off the list.

I think what everybody on these groups is trying to tell companies is this:

We need easy to understand, clear product descriptions and we want products that solve our problems. I'll give you an example directly from your website of something that confused me during my research.

Your section on AoE says:

With 2ºFrost proprietary SAN-Adapt™ software, SATA-SAN supports cross-platform SAN shared filesystems FibreJet™ and MetaSAN™ which provide complementary high-performance approaches to SAN file sharing for content creation, video and audio editing SAN workgroups and Servers/Clusters.

What does that mean? The top of your AoE web page says it's a turn-key solution. Then this paragraph suggests I would need either FibreJet or MetaSAN software to get file-sharing for video editing. FibreJet is something like $1500 per editing seat, and MetaSAN is roughly $1000 per seat. I don't call that "turn-key" when I have to pay anywhere from $4000-$6000 to get file-sharing with a system. If FibreJet or MetaSAN are included in the turn-key price...that should be made clear.

Anyway...I've discussed the shared storage issue with dozens of facility owners over the last year, and they all agree that the industry makes it:

-Overly complicated

-They talk "down" to facility owners when it comes to how the various systems work, especially when it comes to discussing block-level and file-level issues.

-Many of the storage companies can't accurately explain the difference between SAN, LAN, ISCSI, and AoE.

-Most of the companies making products don't seem to understand what small to medium sized post facilities need....which is a simple to administer, transparent storage system that allows multiple editors to edit from the same storage pool simultaneously.

Anyway...I'm certainly not trying to slam 2 Degrees Frost, as their products and track record seem to indicate they're a very progressive company. But at the same time, none of that matters if no one follows up when a customer requests information.






Chris Blair
Magnetic Image, Inc.
Evansville, IN
http://www.videomi.com


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Walter Zamojski
Re: Now 2 Degrees Frost
on Jun 12, 2008 at 10:49:54 pm

Sorry for the lack of response. I know it can be very frustrating.

We read all inquiries received from our website and also those sent to sales@2degreesfrost.com several times a day, every day of the week. We regret we are unable to explain how your emails were missed.

Coraid, is a component manufacturer that sells only in the Linux market and does not supply solutions. They frequently refer customers to us who require solutions for Mac/Windows/Linux but somehow in your case we did not receive any referral from them.

I'd like to give some time to your questions.

2ºFrost proprietary SAN-Adapt™ software, SATA-SAN supports cross-platform SAN shared filesystems FibreJet™ and MetaSAN™ which provide complementary high-performance approaches to SAN file sharing for content creation, video and audio editing SAN workgroups and Servers/Clusters.

What does that mean? The top of your AoE web page says it's a turn-key solution. Then this paragraph suggests I would need either FibreJet or MetaSAN software to get file-sharing for video editing. FibreJet is something like $1500 per editing seat, and MetaSAN is roughly $1000 per seat. I don't call that "turn-key" when I have to pay anywhere from $4000-$6000 to get file-sharing with a system. If FibreJet or MetaSAN are included in the turn-key price...that should be made clear.


Thank you for pointing out the confusion with the wording on our website and we will be revising it to make it more clear. We are striving to be more transparent to people who visit our website and your feedback contributes to this ongoing effort.

We supply complete hardware with software solutions which are fully configured at our facility and so ready to install "out of the box" at the customer's site - this is our reason for using the "Turnkey" description.

To add the basic SATA-SAN storage to a network with the 2ºFrost SATA-SAN™* *driver software is straightforward as no server is required to access the storage; the hardware simply requires an Ethernet connection (our storage works with commodity network switches) and once installed the SATA-SAN storage via our 2ºFrost software appears to the user as if it were SATA disk(s) in your computer.

For collaborative workgroups, which are common in the video* *and content creation* *communities, we bring together 2ºFrost* *Software Stacks which comprise 2ºFrost software layered with full versions of metaSAN™ or FibreJet and the storage hardware. Together they address a variety of workflows, ie a project-based volume sharing workflow preferred by firewire upgraders (featuring FibreJet) or a file-based sharing workflow offering both SAN and LAN access (featuring metaSAN™/metaLAN™).* *We also work with customers to select the right combination of software stack for their particular workgroup/network needs.

On site installation assistance by one of our SAN specialists is provided for installs of metaSAN™*-* or FibreJet™*-*featured stacks so our customers time is freed up from having to figure out how to install these software packages onto the workstations in their network.

Our on site SAN specialist will provide training on how to work with the software We also provide after sales technical support services. 2ºFrost supports the Software Stacks and SATA-SAN Storage hardware that they supply.

We have worked closely with various strategic partners since 2006 to ensure we can supply a range of stable and reliable storage solutions to our customers. As a result, 2ºFrost have designed storage solutions with appropriate software stacks for the application areas of video, audio, centralized storage, backup/recovery and media content creation.

Apple have been very supportive of us bringing this storage platform to Mac OS X and said on their Developer Website "Besides great performance, this technology works just as you expect it to on a Mac."

EMC independently tested the SATA-SAN storage platform and 2ºFrost software with their Retrospect backup software for several weeks in early 2007 at their labs under the EMC Certification Program* *- and it didn't lose a byte.

It was only after successfully completing that certification process that 2ºFrost was appointed an OEM Partner with EMC so that we may bundle Retrospect software with the SATA-SAN hardware as a backup/recovery solution for customers.

We work very hard to produce a great build-to-order solution to our customers for a very good reason - we believe a happy customer is a customer who may refer us to their friends/colleagues which could result in more sales. That's happening right now and is very important to our bottom line.

Anyway...I've discussed the shared storage issue with dozens of facility owners over the last year, and they all agree that the industry makes it:

-Overly complicated

-They talk "down" to facility owners when it comes to how the various systems work, especially when it comes to discussing block-level and file-level issues.


I welcome your questions and I won't talk down to you. My aim will be clarity.

Walter Zamojski
walterz@2degreesfrost.com



wz2degrees


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Chris Blair
Re: Now 2 Degrees Frost
on Jun 14, 2008 at 6:03:25 pm

Walter,

You wrote:We work very hard to produce a great build-to-order solution to our customers for a very good reason - we believe a happy customer is a customer who may refer us to their friends/colleagues which could result in more sales. That's happening right now and is very important to our bottom line.

I welcome your questions and I won't talk down to you. My aim will be clarity.


Chris writes:

That was a much better explanation of what you guys offer. But even some of that explanation was a little over my head. I understand it, but it's still pretty technical. My point is that every facility ownwer I know is NOT a computer expert. They're most certainly not an expert on shared storage and the various architectures that make them work. When you guys start talking about "clusters" and "layers" and "software stacks," it doesn't mean anything to us.

It reminds me when we first opened our company 13 years ago. We'd bring ad agency producers and account executives in for meetings and we'd go on for 20 minutes about our great editing system and how it was capable of 2:1 video compression...the best in the world at the time, and how we were using cameras and formats that gave them the highest quality...etc. etc. The ad agency folks' eyes would start to glass over and they'd lose interest. What we learned is: "they didn't care about the hardware and compression and formats." They just wanted us to solve their problem. They didn't care how. As long as it communicated their message and looked good. We could've shot with a Fischer Price camera and if we made it look good and came in on budget...we were hired.

The lesson is that all the technical stuff ultimately doesn't matter. It just needs to work and solve the clients problem with the least amount of pain and suffering! I think the biggest point to remember is that a shared storage system never made a company money. It's the benefits of what the shared storage system is able to do that helps a company make money. So all these companies out there selling these systems tout the hardware and technical specs...when what facility owners want is solutions to their editing problems. Namely...having to constantly transfer footage; having to move project files from station to station; the complication of backups when files reside on multiple workstations and hard drive arrays; the issue of constant file duplication on those backups, which wastes hard drive space and further complicates administration of backups; the ability of multiple editors and effects artists to work on the same project from the same media pool simultaneously. I could go on for another paragraph.

Anyway...I would've loved to evaluate your products when we were doing our research and I can't explain why our emails didn't get through ...but they didn't. One was sent from my home computer and emailed directly from our web-server email page. The other was sent from my work computer via Outlook. Neither bounced back so I can only assume they went somewhere.

Several other emails sent during the same email sessions got to their destinations so it doesn't seem like there was a problem on our end. We've had a couple of experiences where our URL was mistakenly blacklisted by internet providers and all our email ended up in our spam folders, but it was pretty obvious because the entire office stopped receiving email and it only took a few hours to realize something wasn't working. One look in our spam folder on CleanMail.com and there were all our legitimate emails. We simply mark the legitimate ones and they all pass through to Outlook...and the blacklisting is fixed with one phone call.

Anyway...I appreciate your response and I appreciate the complexity of your industry. But as a 25 year production veteran and facility owner, what we all want when it comes to products and vendors is: clarity, simplicity, and products that solve our problems. All the other technical mumbo/jumbo is just hype. Maybe there are IT guys out there that like all the stuff, but there are thousands of production facilities worldwide that don't employ IT people. And many of those folks will be looking for shared storage solutions in the near future.





Chris Blair
Magnetic Image, Inc.
Evansville, IN
http://www.videomi.com


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