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Which SAN Solution?

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Christian Waldhofer
Which SAN Solution?
on Sep 30, 2009 at 8:01:05 pm


Our production company wants to move on from their old XServe RAID system (with MetaSAN) to a new SAN solution.

I've read a lot of threads in this forum and did a lot of research in the net. I'm still quite new to all the stuff, so now I just wanted ask you about your experiences with your systems.

Our current setup consists of 1 HD online editing suite (MacPro 8Core) and 2 SD Suites (2 PowerMac G5s, which will be replaced soon). For performance reasons, we have in 2 Suites also one 4TB SAS RAID each. All Suites are connected via FibreChannel over a switch on the Xserve RAiD. An Xserve server takes control over the meta data.

Now I found some interesting SAN solutions in the net, like the SNS Evo or the EditShare RAIDs.
At the moment, I'm would tend to the Evo, because it offers straight fibre channel connections without a switch and the ability to keep the old Xserve RAID by bridging the connection. Also it offers Ethernet Access for external computers.
The collaboration features of the EditShare RAIDs are also looking quite nice.
There is also the Omneon MediaGrid, but i think this is a bit too big for such a small company like ours.

Do you know a few things about these Systems (field experience, price, compatibility, etc...)? Like I said, we are quite small, so we don't have the big money, but we just want the best solution that would fit for our needs.

Please don't be too harsh on my topic - like I also said, I'm quite new to it ;)


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Nate Cooper
Re: Which SAN Solution?
on Sep 30, 2009 at 10:07:17 pm

Hey Christian,

I work for SNS and if you have any specific questions about our products feel free to let me know. Here is a quick run down...

The EVO comes standard with 8TB of storage, 4 x 4Gb FC connections and 2 x 1Gb ethernet connections. There is a single expansion slot that can be outfitted with either 4 more FC ports, 4 more GigE ports or a single 10Gb Ethernet port. A single EVO head can expand up to 32TB of storage, and you can expand your fabric with multiple EVO's after that you'll just need to use a switch at that point.

It supports FC and iSCSI access to the same LUNs, meaning if you want your HD on FC and your SD suites on iSCSI you can do that and they can access the same material.

If you already have MetaSAN and like that we do support MetaSAN on the EVO hardware. If you want to move to a volume locking system we do bundle our SANmp software. Either way will work.

The EVO also offers FC bridging for existing storage. This would allow you to connect your existing FC storage to be hosted out via iSCSI.

Hope this helps and feel free to contact me if you have any further questions.

Nate Cooper
818 209 1331

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Matt Geier
Re: Which SAN Solution?
on Oct 1, 2009 at 3:26:41 pm

Hi Christian,

You were not real specific on the kind of editing you want to do.

What kind of video formats do you intend to use primarily?
Do you want Shared Storage which is capable of Real Time video editing, or are you looking for centralized shared storage to push and pull files from?

I see that you have 3 Mac's from the above.

If you are not invested in Fiber Channel, enough that you are open to the idea of doing an Ethernet based network with some very fast Shared Storage performing for Real Time editing, there are some inexpensive solution options for you.

Even 10Gb Ethernet may may perk your interest for some additional reasons to go Ethernet. Especially with Fiber Channel over Ethernet technology coming around and what it's promising!

Keep us posted!

Matt G

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Christian Waldhofer
Re: Which SAN Solution?
on Oct 1, 2009 at 4:20:36 pm

On the formats: We use a lot of different formats, depending on the client. Most of the time, we have to handle 10 bit uncompressed streams (SD and HD), ProRes 422 (and further on ProRes 4444), and many forms of XDCAM (HD422 50, EX, etc.). All edit suites should be able to work simultaneously. We have already a FC infrastructure, so I guess my bosses want to stick with it.

Our future plans would include the replacement of the 2 G5s with 2 MacPros. The G5s will be reused for graphics, ingesting and other stuff, where realtime performance isn't that necessary.

So in total, there would be 4 to 5 workstations, that should have a direct connection with the SAN, but only 3 of them must have a FC connection. We haven't really decided yet, if we want to have a fast realtime storage or only a shared storage for pushing and pulling files.

My wish would be a classic Final Cut Server solution, where the server manages all files for all edits - perhaps with an online/offline workflow.

I hope that was a little bit more specific ;)

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Matt Geier
Re: Which SAN Solution?
on Oct 2, 2009 at 3:32:58 pm


This all sounds fun! :) As usual, I remain neutral in my posting, giving you information that will help you start more researching and get you thinking about this.

From a bandwidth perspective, I know that Ethernet can support the data rates you need running for SD and also HD (Compressed, and Uncompressed) This can also be scaled to match the amount of users you have on the network (even if it means multiple servers, and storage)

---- I don't think however, bandwidth will be the bottleneck for you as much as I suspect you'll need faster storage then what you have now or might be considering purchasing. Perhaps, even more then one RAID to support doing HD Uncompressed editing with multiple users at one time.

Whats interesting about what you want to do is that there are very little people doing this this way. A lot of the problem is that it's very expensive to get it done right, not that it can't be done.

Doing this in a shared environment or any environment is possible, but a lot of raids out there, don't go as fast as they would need to in order to support the requirements to pass the stream input/ouput's back and forth) --- Most people are using Pro Res, or sticking to Direct Attached Storage for their HD Editing.

Here's some things to consider...

(8/10Bit HD Uncompressed x 5 Streams)
10Gb Ethernet on a single Mac will allow you to go 250-500MB/sec. However, in order to support this many streams of HD Uncompressed at once, you will need multiple RAIDS to support multiple people. As well as bandwidth, the RAID will also need to be fast enough to pass the input / output going back and forth off the disks. (This will likely mean a couple or a few more 8Gb Fiber Channel RAID's will be needed)

Now consider this -

(Pro Res HQ x 5 Streams)
Gigabit Ethernet on a single Mac will allow you to run up to speeds of 90MB/sec. Please note: This is the same bandwidth as running 5 x HD Uncompressed streams, however, the RAID requirements are not as stringent, and this road will certainly cost the lesser of the two options.

The idea here that I'm pointing out:

The amount of time it takes to pass an HD Uncompressed is much more stringent then the requirement needed to pass a Pro Res HQ stream.

Both of these examples can run in an environment that is shared simultaneously with Ethernet and Fiber Channel, or Ethernet with SAS/SATA Storage. (If configured with proper network, and hardware of course)

Having said that, as long as your network, servers, and raids, are fast enough and ALSO provides the needed bandwidth requirements, and assuming all the network configuration is properly set up, you'd be able to edit an HD Uncompressed stream over the Ethernet in real time just fine with 10gb. In the end though, you'd get more for your money, if you decided to do this with Gigabit Ethernet and used Pro Res for your compressions.

I don't know of any RAIDS, other then perhaps multiple 8GB FC RAIDs that can support the HD Uncompressed requirement you are seeking.....

I would be weary of any solution out there, that is not already designed to meet your specific needs of Uncompressed HD editing (Ethernet OR Fibre Channel), and be even more cautious if you are building this on your own (unless you are an expert on things like Flow Control, RAID Performance, Network Performance, etc)

When you enter a world of real time editing in an environment with multiple people all accessing data at once, hitting the network at once, hitting a server at once, and more, then you have one shot only to get it right, if it's not right, as far as a lot of people are concerned, it's failed. This is obviously the part you want to avoid.

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Neil Sadwelkar
Re: Which SAN Solution?
on Oct 3, 2009 at 7:15:32 pm

[Matt Geier] "Gigabit Ethernet on a single Mac will allow you to run up to speeds of 90MB/sec. Please note: This is the same bandwidth as running 5 x HD Uncompressed streams,"

Seems to be a typo here. GigE will not support even one stream of uncompressed HD, but may support more than one or two compressed HD streams. Or maybe you mean SD not HD.

Neil Sadwelkar
twitter: fcpguru
FCP Editor, Edit systems consultant
Mumbai India

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Matt Geier
Re: Which SAN Solution?
on Oct 4, 2009 at 8:55:34 pm


No, not a typo, - the point was that passing 5 streams of HD in real time, is more requirment then passing 5 streams of pro res in real time, and less overhead on the wire.

To better understand the bandwidth requirements use this below to do the comparison of Uncompressed HD bandwidth vs Pro Res HQ bandwidth / RAID Requirements

Pro Res HQ x 1 Streams = 35MB bandwidth (compression varies)
Uncompressed HD x 1 stream = 150-250MB bandwidth

Not only are the Ethernet requirements less constrained for Pro Res HQ vs Uncompressed HD, but also The RAID requirements are less constrained for Pro Res as Uncompressed HD.

Both can be done on an Ethernet SAS/SATA solution or all Fiber Channel solution, or both, in a mixed environment. As long as the hardware supports the requirements properly (not only bandwidth but also how fast the solution is) both protocols can work very well.

Does that make more sense?

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Christian Waldhofer
Re: Which SAN Solution?
on Oct 6, 2009 at 11:58:15 am

First of all: Thank you for all your input!

You gave me a good overview (and some headache ;) ) on this topic.

So from my point of view - If I want do build up a FinalCutServer Environment with an Online/Offline (ProRes) Workflow, I don't need a super duper fast RAID Storage, but a fast server for the conversions etc, right?

Also, I have the option to choose between 10G Ethernet (FC over Ethernet) and normal FC - and I can mix the different media in a network. Plus I could use the 2 SAS towers I already have for online editing and RT performance, right?

I hope I got it right ;)

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Ron Amborn
Re: Which SAN Solution?
on Oct 3, 2009 at 12:51:32 am

Hello Christian,
Please contact Bob Zelin or and we can help you with some great fiber solutions. You can also call Maxx Digital at 714-374-4944.We are available all weekend. Have a great weekend.

Ron Amborn President
Maxx Entertainment Digital
21562 Newland Street
Huntington Beach , Ca 92646
Direct 714-374-4944
Cell 714-713-4492 Fax 714-374-3404

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Joe Ebert
Re: Which SAN Solution?
on Oct 13, 2009 at 1:37:14 pm


We have worked with Rorke Data for years and they have several options for building SAN’s. Their ability to match the technology with individual workflow requirements will be extremely helpful to you weeding through your options. Rorke also has a new product out called the Aurora, very high performance with the ability to plug up to 8 editing systems to one Raid with out a switch at a very attractive cost per GB.

What's just as important is that Rorke's tech support folks know their stuff. If you need help, they know the answers.

You can find them at

Good luck in your search

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Chris Blair
Re: Which SAN Solution?
on Oct 14, 2009 at 2:58:25 am

I could be wrong but I think a lot of the SAN/LAN solutions out there have the ability to plug directly into their various turnkey boxes without using a I don't think that's anything ground-breaking. I know EditShare, Apace and a couple others have diagrams that show direct connection as one method for cabling an editing environment.

Or at least they did 12-18 months ago!

Chris Blair
Magnetic Image, Inc.
Evansville, IN

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