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Looking to set up a small SAN

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Ben Cadwallader
Looking to set up a small SAN
on Apr 5, 2010 at 6:10:21 pm

Hi everyone,
I'm currently the videographer, editor, producer, all-in-one-man for an office. Up to this point I have been able to handle the workload with out a problem, but in the upcoming months the workload is due to increase heavily. Combine this with the demand for very quick turn-around, and I need to bring in a couple extra people to help me with the work. Obviously the set up we have now - a Mac Pro 2 x 2.26 GHz Quad Core Intel Xeon Processor with Final Cut Studio hooked up to a 2 TB external by Firewire 800 - isn't going to do the trick once these other guys step in. Needless at this point to say, I'm looking for some comparatively cheap solutions.
Before you read any further know that the questions that follow are pretty basic and probably pretty elementary to anyone with any experience like yourselves, so if there's another topic I should be redirected to please feel free to just tell me where to look. This stuff is obviously not my expertise, but I'm hoping I can get a pretty good grasp of it all.
I read Mr. Zelin's "Build your own SAN" article and it was extremely helpful, but I still have a couple questions:
First off, this is a campaign office, which means the work will continue to get heavier and then overnight everything will end, so 'infinite storage' isn't needed. I would say we're looking at a total of around 10 - 15 TB of used space by the time it ends. With this in mind, are the disc drives Mr. Zelin suggests still the best option? Would something smaller work, or are you sacrificing too much quality and speed?
A packaged SAN like Final Share seems comparatively cheap when placed against other packages. Would this be something to look into? Or are the difference in price range so great it wouldn't be worth it with the small scale of SAN I'm trying to set up?
Additionally, what are some good resources if I'm not comfortable with installing it myself?
I would say we're going to probably be running two, or three at the most, stations. Because this is going to be pretty small scale I don't want to buy resources were never going to touch.
Thanks in advance for taking a look and especially for your patience.

Ben


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Bob Zelin
Re: Looking to set up a small SAN
on Apr 6, 2010 at 2:01:58 am

final share is a good solution for you, because you can do a complete 16 TB solution for a LOT less than 15 grand, and hook up to 10 MACs to it.

you want a solution that is mindlessly easy to use, requires no training, requires no site licenses, requires no IT administration. If you are doing standard def, or compressed HD like ProRes422HQ, this is a great solution for you. It runs right off your existing ethernet ports on your MAC's. The hardware consists of
a MAC Pro, a big disk drive, and some specialty ethernet equipment, to make the link aggregation stuff work, so it's fast enough to handle HD video. Unlike my original article, we NO LONGER use any special software - just Apple File sharing, and it works great.

There are certainly other great solutions on the market, and these companies participate on this forum as well, but for the price, and ease of use, you can't beat Final Share from Maxx.

Bob Zelin



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Caspian Brand
Re: Looking to set up a small SAN
on Apr 6, 2010 at 10:33:34 pm

Hi Ben,

I work for Studio Network Solutions, and our EVO system is an excellent turnkey product that is both a SAN and a NAS. Multiple streams of PRORES HQ and other compressed HD codecs are well handled by iSCSI over GbE using your onboard GbE NIC, yes even the i7 iMacs can get multi-stream performance using iSCSI.

Some advantages we have are that our systems have integrated redundant power supplies and do not require any speciality ethernet equipment, most Layer 2 GbE Switches work great with iSCSI and our Target/Initiators (even cheaper desktop GbE switches can be used in smaller networks). Our SAN management software is cross-platform (Mac + PC) and comes bundled with the EVO. Fibre Channel connectivity is also available to the same SAN volumes if you need to handle multiple streams of Uncompressed HD or 2K and RED workflows.

As you mentioned installation is a concern for you, I should mention we also offer pre-configuration services with RAIDs already built so all you have to do is unbox the system, plug it in, load the software and start working. We provide phone installs and on-site installations as well.

You can read more about our solution and contact us here:

http://www.studionetworksolutions.com/video-san.php

As with discussing any storage solutions with companies who provide media production storage systems, having a good idea of what Video Codecs you intend to use throughout production will best help in getting quotes on systems that will meet your performance needs. Sometimes you need more TB than you will fill up, just to have enough physical drives to provide multiple simultaneous streams of video.


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Chris Blair
Re: Looking to set up a small SAN
on Apr 7, 2010 at 11:56:38 pm

Ben,

Don't forget about backups. You need to have a backup of all this data in case something happens to your primary storage. Depending on what you buy, that can add significantly to either your cost, or your time.

You could buy a large ethernet storage device or a large tape drive (we use LaCie's rack-mount ethernet disks), and you'll spend several thousand to protect 10-15TB of files, but you only spend 30 minutes setting up a simple nightly backup utility (we use Second Copy) that runs automatically and all you do it check it occasionally (or you can have it email you results each day which is what ours does).

Or you can spend less and buy individual drives and backup every so often. The downside here is it'll still cost you a couple grand (at least) for the drives, and you'll spend more time than you'll want running and administering backups, plus you'll end up with duplicates and unnecessary redundancy and restoring is a pain in the backside.

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


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Neil Sadwelkar
Re: Looking to set up a small SAN
on May 24, 2010 at 10:47:16 am

From their web site, it appears Second Copy is Windows only. So if your NAS/SAN is Mac and your clients are Mac, you might need to look at something Mac, like Bru.

-----------------------------------
Neil Sadwelkar
neilsadwelkar.blogspot.com
twitter: fcpguru
FCP Editor, Edit systems consultant
Mumbai India


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