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Moving from individual Raid0's to SAN

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Francois Driessen
Moving from individual Raid0's to SAN
on Mar 7, 2009 at 7:53:41 pm

Hi there. Some expert suggestions from the herd?

We're a small studio doing mostly 3D, HD composites & edits. Need to migrate from direct eSata Raid0 to SAN. Plan as point of departure was to get 2 AppleFC cards, & PromiseRaid VtracE from Apple with only 4x 1TB drives & then fill in more drives from other vendor. And running Xsan2 from one MPro. (Have 2 MPros and need them both for stations) Studio is still in start-up phase and have to manage pocket digging well.

Yes. The tag for FC is a bit heavy. Which is the reason for my post.

Bob's article leads me away from Ethernet solution since we don't have a spare machine sitting around, and don't want to buy equipment twice as we grow in future. http://magazine.creativecow.net/article/build-your-own-affordable-san-that-...

Anyone out there know if there's another Raid box that would work with Xsan2 & be reliable. Is SAS something I should look at?



Francois

>- e y e f l a m e .tv -<
http://eyeflame.tv


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Bob Zelin
Re: Moving from individual Raid0's to SAN
on Mar 7, 2009 at 9:42:02 pm

Let me get this straight. You want to buy a Promise VTrak - the most expensive Fibre array on the market, and you can't afford a MAC Pro to act as a server ? You think building a professional XSAN system can be done on a budget ? Boy, are you in for a big surprise.

I am confused - you have only small RAID 0 arrays, and you are currently running XSAN ? Maybe I am misreading your post. Do you know that you need to purchase a Fibre Channel Switch - this is EXPENSIVE - have you considered this yet ?

There are plenty of Fibre and SATA solutions that will work for you. My advice - HIRE SOMEONE that does this for a living. Building a SAN is not something you just figure out. Especially XSAN. Without professional support, from someone like Jordan Woods, etc. you will fail.

Bob Zelin





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Francois Driessen
Re: Moving from individual Raid0's to SAN
on Mar 7, 2009 at 10:58:08 pm

Hi, B

I hear you.

Would I need a switch if only 2 MacPro's are connected ? Had assumed that they can both just be connected to the array directly since there are 2 ports there. And then one of them runs Xsan as meta-controller? If that's not the case I can see why you're frowning at my current point of departure.

Question on your article:
The computers connected to the Ethernet SAN - they're only connected by 1 cable each, right? So that means max 1Gb max, right?



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Bob Zelin
Re: Moving from individual Raid0's to SAN
on Mar 8, 2009 at 12:34:08 am

Francois writes -
Would I need a switch if only 2 MacPro's are connected ? Had assumed that they can both just be connected to the array directly since there are 2 ports there. And then one of them runs Xsan as meta-controller? If that's not the case I can see why you're frowning at my current point of departure.

REPLY -
I remember when the Apple XServe RAID was first introduced. Everyone thought that they would buy this drive array, and instantly they would have shared storage. After all, it had two fibre ports on it - didn't that mean that you could hook up two computers - ABSOLUTELY NOT. There is no built in "sharing" in any fibre channel array (or any array of any type). You have to build a system, and this includes anything from a cheapie ethernet based solution, to an expensive Fibre Channel solution. The Apple/Promise VTrak will do absolutely nothing for you, until you buy at least at least a server (like a Mac XServe), and a QLogic SanBox 1400
http://www.qlogic.com/Products/SAN_products_FCS_san1400.aspx
You put a fibre card into your Mac XServe, a fibre card into each of your two MAC PRo workstations, and plug all three of these computers into the QLogic SanBox. (and yes, all three need XSAN software). Now you plug in your ApplePromiseVTrak fibre ports into this array, configure the switch, configure XSAN, and you have shared storage.

Pretty complicated - huh ? That's why I wrote the article. That is why products like EditShare, Terrablock, Apace VStor, Studio Network Solutions, and all the others exist. Cheaper, better, easier.


Question on your article:
The computers connected to the Ethernet SAN - they're only connected by 1 cable each, right? So that means max 1Gb max, right?

REPLY -
1Gb is a theoretical bandwidth. You get 50Mb/sec on standard ethernet, and 70Mb/sec with jumbo frames enabled. Since ProRes422HQ and 10 bit uncompressed Standard Def is just under 30Mb/sec, this is enough bandwidth. If you want to do uncompressed 10 bit HD-SDI media, this is not the right solution for you. Products from Apace, EditShare, Small Tree, and Maximum Throughput (and other MetaLAN based systems) will not accomodate uncompressed HD media. But since most of the world uses compressed HD codecs (like DVCProHD, ProRes422HQ, or AVID DNxHD), ethernet is NO PROBLEM.
The least expensive pre packaged product is from Apace, and it is excellent. The Small Tree solution is being packaged by Maxx Digital under the name Final Share.

There are other wonderful Fibre based products from companies like CommandSoft, Facilis, and others. I am sure that cost will be a determining factor in what you will ultimately do.

With all this nonsense I have spewed in this post, I can assure you that if you buy a Promise VTrak with only 4 hard drives, and 2 Apple FC cards, do you know what you will have when you get done -
ABSOLUTELY NOTHING.

Bob Zelin




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Francois Driessen
Re: Moving from individual Raid0's to SAN
on Mar 8, 2009 at 2:23:05 am

Thanks, Bob
Makes sense now. Much appreciated.


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Chris Blair
Re: Moving from individual Raid0's to SAN
on Mar 8, 2009 at 2:50:59 am

Bob Zelin

There is no built in "sharing" in any fibre channel array (or any array of any type). You have to build a system, and this includes anything from a cheapie ethernet based solution, to an expensive Fibre Channel solution

Just to be clear...Bob is talking about somebody buying a RAID only and thinking they can just hook up to it and start editing.

You cannot. That's one of the big differences in the solutions he mentioned, like the vStor system we use. With it...you do not have to have an ethernet switch for it to work. Our system has 4 GigE ports and one of the connection options is to route your 4 edit systems directly into the vStor's onboard ports. No switch necessary. You can configure a vStor with as many as 14 GigE ports. It can do this because it also acts as the server since it's a PC and uses an embedded Linux OS and a custom (and very user-friendly) web based GUI for administration and configuration.

One of the two things that made us stop looking at SAN solutions was the cost of the Fibre Switches. They're crazy expensive. The other stumbling block for us was the whole volume level sharing of SANs versus file level sharing model that NAS solutions use. The NAS way of working just works better for how our workflow is setup.

Now Apace actually recommends a switch be used in your chain because it opens up a lot more possiblities for sharing data with the rest of your facility, but some of the facilities we talked to before buying just connected them direct. I'll also add that while Apace's entry level system is very affordable, as you move up in the quality (SD to HD) and number of real-time streams you need across workstations, their solutions can get plenty expensive as well.


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


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Mark Raudonis
Re: Moving from individual Raid0's to SAN
on Mar 9, 2009 at 3:36:05 pm

[Chris Blair] "he other stumbling block for us was the whole volume level sharing of SANs versus file level sharing model that NAS solutions use."

Chris,

Correction: X-SAN IS a "file level sharing" program. Not all "cheap SAN" solutions are, but X-SAN IS!

That's why we use it.

mark



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Francois Driessen
Re: Moving from individual Raid0's to SAN
on Mar 9, 2009 at 3:46:02 pm

Was wondering about that.
Quick question: You need to buy and individual license for Xsan for every workstation & server to run, right? This will probably have to be replaced if you want to migrate to SnowLeopard?

Francois

>- e y e f l a m e .tv -<
http://eyeflame.tv


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Mark Raudonis
Re: Moving from individual Raid0's to SAN
on Mar 10, 2009 at 4:59:10 am

[Francois Driessen] "You need to buy and individual license for Xsan for every workstation & server to run, right? "

Yep. X-SAN per seat license is around $900 bucks. Your server and back up server need it too.


Mark





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Chris Blair
Re: Moving from individual Raid0's to SAN
on Mar 10, 2009 at 3:47:20 am

Yes...all the SAN software like Fibrejet, MetaSAN, XSAN enable some form of file-level sharing, but they work differently than NAS based shared storage in terms of how you manage/assign volumes, grant read/write priveleges etc.

We considered the way SAN systems work a stumbling block primarily because the way the systems move data from the workstations to the raid requires the added layer of software (like XSAN) to manage everything. So that adds cost to each editing seat, which can run into the thousands per license depending on what you use. And..from lots of people we talked to, setting up, configuring and managing a SAN based network is just more difficult from an administrative standpoint than a NAS. We literally NEVER have to go into the GUI and make changes to permissions or grant access to volumes, or change read/write privileges. Our NAS based system follows standard Windows conventions.

NAS based solutions allow you to use what you already know for sharing data, whether it's Windows, Mac or Linux, and they don't add a dime to the cost per seat. As an example...just the cost of Fibrejet licenses alone was almost as much as the entry level vStor system we ended up buying!


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


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