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Large SANs - Speed VS Density

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David Gagne
Large SANs - Speed VS Density
on Jan 17, 2011 at 7:56:59 pm

I've got a philosophical question for you guys... assuming all other things were equal, would you rather have for post-production assets:

1. A very dense SAN (~200TB in 8U), with moderate speeds (1,200Mb/s) that is very scalable, low power/heat requirements or
2. A non-dense SAN (~200TB in 28U aka full rack), with killer speeds (that you'll never use) with high heat/power requirements?


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Ron Amborn
Re: Large SANs - Speed VS Density
on Jan 17, 2011 at 8:57:13 pm

David
This is not as simple answer. The answer would depend on your needs such as resolution of your project. Most of the time people want faster because even if they do not use the storage to it's potential it gives them room to grow. You speak about low energy consumption but you are not specific on the RPM of the drives you say will save energy.

Most (Green Drives) are 5400-5900 RPM and will not cut the mustard in many professional video editing situations. The Green thing is a great idea if you are just archiving mass data like in a huge data center or library. I will always say to go with something you can grow with and not something that saves energy and will keep you from moving forward.I am always free to discuss things privately at ron@maxxdigital.com.

Sincerely,
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
ron@maxxdigital.com
http://www.maxxdigital.com




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Douglas Learner
Re: Large SANs - Speed VS Density
on Jan 17, 2011 at 9:31:06 pm

David,

All else being the same, I can't come up with a reason to spend more money for 'killer speeds' you'll never use.

It sounds like your underlying question is whether it's better to have high-capacity or low-capacity drives. That really comes down to how much capacity you need and how many editors you have accessing the system. A 24-bay system with 1TB drives, for example, will support six editors, while a 12-bay system with 2TB drives gives you the same raw capacity but only enough spindles to support three editors.

Ron makes a great point about green drives. Not only are they slower, they're constantly spinning down to save energy. That adds latency when the system has to wait for them to come back up to speed.

Finally, I'm not sure about getting ~200TB in 8U. The largest single array we've installed has 48 drives in a 9U enclosure. Even with 3TB drives that would be 'only' 144TB.

Douglas

--
BreadBox, Inc.
douglas [at] breadboxstorage [dot] com


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Steve Modica
Re: Large SANs - Speed VS Density
on Jan 17, 2011 at 9:39:09 pm

I'd want the one that works and can maintain realtime streams of the codecs I want. Which one does that?

If they are striped (IE raid50 or 60) you aren't going to have very good realtime performance.

Steve Modica
CTO, Small Tree Communications


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Bob Zelin
Re: Large SANs - Speed VS Density
on Jan 17, 2011 at 10:10:34 pm

paying for killer speeds in a special product is simply stupid now.
With the advent of 6 Gig drives, and the wide spread release of these products happening in a couple of months, EVERYONE will have "killer speeds", for about the same price as now, weather they need it or not.

The only ones who will suffer are the manufacturers of "killer speed boxes" with dual host controller cards, and those that paid the "killer prices" for the "killer speeds".

This stuff should have been out in December 2010, but it's just all now coming out. By June 2011, we will all have "killer speeds" for the same money.

Bob Zelin



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David Gagne
Re: Large SANs - Speed VS Density
on Jan 17, 2011 at 10:24:13 pm

Ok, so I tried to pose the question generically, but here's a real example:

NexSAN SataBeast + Expansion has 204TB (raw) in 8U. It's dual controller, but it's just one big array.

Compare that to using something like Active XRaids, where you would need 4x 32TB XRaid and 3X 32TB expansion. That's 28U and a lot more power consumption.

Obviously the XRaids should outperform because they have more controllers/connections to your drives, but I don't really need that kind of performance.

There are a bunch of others that you could fit into dense storage, whether it's IBM, Equalogic, etc, and a bunch you could fit into less dense storage, so that's why I wanted to keep it generic.

The interesting part is that the faster, less dense is typically cheaper than the slower, more dense storage, but those costs would probably be offset by power consumption over time.

Good points Bob about drive speeds ramping up too.


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Bob Zelin
Re: Large SANs - Speed VS Density
on Jan 17, 2011 at 11:05:17 pm

http://www.nexsan.com/satabeastxi/

this is the product that you want - the one built for the MAC.
I see the way the drives are mounted - vertically into the chassis.
Isn't that going to generate insane heat buildup ? Look at a simple 16 bay array, and the heat that is generated. And you are going to pack the heck out of a small box, with all those drives ?

What the heck do I know - maybe it works, but I would be nervous.

Bob Zelin



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Douglas Learner
Re: Large SANs - Speed VS Density
on Jan 17, 2011 at 11:46:28 pm

The drives mounted vertically look like the now-discontinued Sun Thumper.

David, are you going to have editors working from this storage or is it going to be an archive that is accessed occasionally to move assets to a production system? (Or perhaps something else?) I ask because the Nexsan site describes the energy-saving technology for the SATABEAST as unloading the drives and possibly also slowing them down or putting them to sleep. The 'recovery time' for unloaded drives, the best-performance/lowest-savings option, is described as "sub-second" (recovery is 15 seconds from slowed drives and 30-45 seconds from sleeping drives). The latency you need for your video production system is measured in milliseconds, so I would check with the folks at Nexsan to find out how the energy savings mode(s) affect performance. Ideally, you can get a test system or talk with someone using it in a video production environment.

Good luck!

Douglas


--
BreadBox, Inc.
douglas [at] breadboxstorage [dot] com


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Ron Amborn
Re: Large SANs - Speed VS Density
on Jan 17, 2011 at 11:07:23 pm

David
As you said keeping things generic is best. Please contact me and we can do a conference call with Bob Z and talk openly. We do sell and support Active Storage but the best thing is to talk privately and get you the no nonsense answers you need. My info is ron@maxxdigital.com or call 714-374-4944.Talk to you soon.

Sincerely,
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
ron@maxxdigital.com
http://www.maxxdigital.com




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David Gagne
Re: Large SANs - Speed VS Density
on Jan 18, 2011 at 12:11:23 am

On the SataBeast specifically:
Good point Bob of heat buildup being a potential issue, but with good rack cooling I think it will be fine. As for the spin-up times, etc., I think that also is ok - it's pretty controllable, so we can have it spin-down at night/weekends, and run full-bore during the day, or just set it to do things after certain periods of inactivity.
We're planning to use something like this for a near-line archive, but it might also be fast enough to edit on (it's probably faster than our current 20TB Promise Raid).
The NexSAN guys are very familiar with XSAN implementations and support it fully.

Back to the generic question:
As you grow, you add more storage and more clients. Generally more clients require more speed, and more storage adds more speed (especially with XSAN or other similar implementations). But for us, our need for more storage has outgrown our need for more clients, thus it seems to make sense to go more dense as we do not require the speed boost of more controllers, and I'd rather not take up a whole rack worth of heat/power.

Thoughts? (Just don't say LTO)


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Douglas Learner
Re: Large SANs - Speed VS Density
on Jan 18, 2011 at 12:46:41 am

David,

Sounds like you’ve had some good conversations with Nexsan and are comfortable with their solution and their support. That’s great!

As for generic questions, I’ve found few, if any, companies that fit a generic mold, especially in the video production world. You stated it well: “generally more clients require more speed…but…our need for more storage has outgrown our need for more clients.” Celebrate your uniqueness and use it as a guide for your plans.

It sounds like you have a pretty sophisticated setup, so if you called me for a solution I’d ask about capacity needs, timing for the capacity, and where you expect to be in 6-9 months and 18-24 months. Do you need all the capacity now, or can you add capacity over time? At what point might you need more clients? Do you plan to stay with FC for the next few years, or do you anticipate upgrading your infrastructure in that time? Have you thought about options to FC you might want to integrate into your system now so you have more flexibility in the future? How does the end of the Xserve and the possible discontinuation of Xsan fit into your plans?

And why don’t you think LTO is a good thought? ;-)

Douglas

--
BreadBox, Inc.
douglas [at] breadboxstorage [dot] com


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David Gagne
Re: Large SANs - Speed VS Density
on Jan 18, 2011 at 2:52:01 am

The question of data growth and timing you bring up is one I think about a lot but is hard to guess. I "need" a good chunk now, something like 60-70TB. Add in 20% for headroom and it's closer to 80. Our growth rate is hard to guess, but I think we could be at 150TB in 2-3 years. Of course with some smart media management those numbers may come down. Who knows? I think I'd rather plan too big than too small at this point, as our large purchases tend to take 6 months or more to go through, and I'd rather not be caught behind like we are right now.

As for fiber vs ethernet, the SataBeast has both 8GB fiber and 10GB ethernet (their brochure only says 1GB but they've updated to 10GB). We'll probably stick with fiber for the short term but have the option of ethernet long term. Does XSAN work over 10GB ethernet? Haven't heard anyone talk about this yet...

As for LTO, I have a few reasons I don't want to mess with it, but the main reason is complexity of keeping it going and lack of staff to deal with it. LTO requires a bit more hand-holding than disk and doesn't offer significant enough advantage to make it worthwhile.


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Douglas Learner
Re: Large SANs - Speed VS Density
on Jan 18, 2011 at 5:46:23 am

It's hard to purchase storage now for use 2-3 years down the line because you know prices will come down and technology will advance. Your purchase cycle makes it difficult to wait, though, and there's always that fear the budget won't be there next year when you need more storage. If your organization is accepting of medium- to long-term IT planning you may be able to lay out a plan that gets you the capacity you need now and sets up benchmarks to trigger additional storage purchasing in the future. One strategy to consider is getting archive storage now and perhaps the next purchase is a replacement for your current production storage, which can be re-purposed to additional archive capacity. That leaves you the flexibility, and hopefully the budget, to take advantage of new technology in a year or so.

Douglas


--
BreadBox, Inc.
douglas [at] breadboxstorage [dot] com


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