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Vik Narayan
SAN Networking Questions
on Feb 18, 2011 at 5:06:16 am

Hi All

I'll jump straight to the question: Can a fibre channel SAN be shared over an ethernet network?

Here's the background: over the last 15+yrs of editing, I have managed to live without learning much about the back end of storage networking - large facilities hired the pros to manage that. But now I am stepping into a position in a small production company where I will be upgrading/modifying an existing workflow.

The old system: 2 x G5s running FCP 6.0 w/ 4Gbps Atto fibre cards, 2 x Fibrenetix Cubex with 12 x 500gh SATA Drives, a Qlogic SANbox fibre switch, 2 x Fibrejet 2.7 Licenses

Proposed upgrades: One G5 will be replaced by a MacPro and 8Gbps fibre Card, Fibrejet Upgrades to 4.0,
12 x 2Tb SATA drives for the Fibrenetix Cubex devices

So coming back to my question, I am hoping I can turn the old G5 into a CatDV server/workstation that can access the SAN through regular Gig ethernet network. Though the machine has a fibre card installed, a whole new seat of Fibrejet is to expensive for a non-editing machine. I would appreciate any advice. Newbie jabs are welcome too :)


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Matt Geier
Re: SAN Networking Questions
on Feb 18, 2011 at 5:23:47 am

Hi Vik,

Here's a tip: Fiber Channel RAIDS sitting behind one server can be shared over an Ethernet network in a way, simply because you can put an Ethernet adapter into the Mac Server and connect Gigabit or 10Gbit clients to access the server....since the server is the only thing talking to the FC RAID, you've been able to avoid the need for individual client connection cards, to a FC SWITCH, Software for each, etc.....

Storage is tricky however depending on what you want to do with it. Do you intend to create a REAL TIME SHARED NETWORK (or) a PUSH AND PULL only network...... one will be based on pure REAL TIME SHARED PERFORMANCE and one will be based more on just SHARED BANDWIDTH performance.

I would recommend getting that Mac Pro server, and putting in a Multi Port (quad or six port) Ethernet Adapter, or 10Gb adapter to connect the users accordingly........ Then pick your storage, and get it set up and see how it works for you based on what kind of network you want to configure.

Careful; Storage and Networking is the easy part to decide on.....getting something that does what you want under a Shared Network load is a little more difficult depending on the vendor hardware configuration you choose to use (hardware vendors all do it differently, be it Software, Hardware, etc...) This stuff is not built equal, which means looking at two data sheets and comparing them, is not doing you enough justice.... I would recommend making some phone calls to speak with vendors about their performance in the different types of networks you want to do ... make sure it's not all based solely on bandwidth.

I always say that it's very easy for about any networking / storage company to give you something in terms of the bandwidth you need, however, when you're editing video on a shared network or off a particular set of hardware, the real time performance will be the key for what you need.....this is not just about bandwidth.


Regards,

Matt Geier (Small Tree)
952-641-7433


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Bob Zelin
Re: SAN Networking Questions
on Feb 18, 2011 at 11:37:39 pm

I'll jump straight to the question: Can a fibre channel SAN be shared over an ethernet network?

REPLY - your question is incorrect. Your question should be "can a fibre channel drive array attached to a MAC G5 be shared over an ethernet network" -
the answer is yes, but it will appear as a single client. This Fibre drive array and the G5 is NOT FAST ENOUGH to be used as a shared volume in any shared storage enviornment. HOWEVER, if you want to use this as a CAT DV "server" - sure, this will work fine, as anything, including a MAC Mini, can be used as a CAT DV server.


The old system: 2 x G5s running FCP 6.0 w/ 4Gbps Atto fibre cards, 2 x Fibrenetix Cubex with 12 x 500gh SATA Drives, a Qlogic SANbox fibre switch, 2 x Fibrejet 2.7 Licenses

REPLY - this is not a shared storage system for modern computers. You can use this as a stand alone computer, and you can see this over an ethernet network, but it is NOT FAST ENOUGH to be used as a server for modern MAC Pro (or even MacBook Pro) clients that are running Snow Leopard.

So coming back to my question, I am hoping I can turn the old G5 into a CatDV server/workstation that can access the SAN through regular Gig ethernet network. Though the machine has a fibre card installed, a whole new seat of Fibrejet is to expensive for a non-editing machine

REPLY - you can buy a new $995 Mac Mini Server, and use this as a CatDV server if you wish, so are you really saving any money ? For CatDV this will work fine, but DO NOT EXPECT to use this as a shared storage server with your Fibrenetix Fibre arrays to serve video media to your modern MAC workstations.

Bob Zelin



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Vik Narayan
Re: SAN Networking Questions
on Feb 20, 2011 at 10:58:20 pm

Thank you Bob & Matt, for taking the time. I figured my very questions may exhibit my ignorance in this area.

Bob - In the new setup, I will be using an 8 core Intel MacPro connected by fibre channel to the SAN for all my editing, color correction, mograph & compositing work. One G5, which will also be on the fibre network will be used only for recording voice tracks and closed captioning. I wanted to repurpose the other old G5 for CatDV purposes - but your suggestion that I could use a Mac Mini as a CatDV server makes me want to reconsider.

At the risk of touching on a contentious issue, I want to ask you another question: for the post production of a locally syndicated travel show edited using ProRes 422, is fibre storage an overkill? Are Gig/10 Gig storage networks significantly cheaper for comparable performance for the bandwidth I am pulling, or do the costs level off once all the nuts and bolts are taken into consideration. I ask this because each seat of Fibrejet + the required maintenance contracts works out to be so expensive. We have plans to add another show in the future, which would mean potentially getting a whole new shared storage system with at least one more primary editing system. Should we consider ditching fibre for copper? I apologize if my questions are too open ended with too many variables that need consideration.

Thank you
Vik Narayan


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Bob Zelin
Re: SAN Networking Questions
on Feb 21, 2011 at 1:46:56 pm

Vik writes -
for the post production of a locally syndicated travel show edited using ProRes 422, is fibre storage an overkill? Are Gig/10 Gig storage networks significantly cheaper for comparable performance for the bandwidth I am pulling, or do the costs level off once all the nuts and bolts are taken into consideration.

REPLY - YES. Gigabit ethernet will give you 90MB/sec per client with jumbo frames enabled. ProRes422 is 20MB/sec. Do you need 250MB/sec from Fibre channel to work with a 20MB/sec - is that overkill - you tell me. Regular cheapo Gig Ethernet (not even 10 Gig) will work perfectly for your appliation.


I ask this because each seat of Fibrejet + the required maintenance contracts works out to be so expensive. We have plans to add another show in the future, which would mean potentially getting a whole new shared storage system with at least one more primary editing system. Should we consider ditching fibre for copper? I apologize if my questions are too open ended with too many variables that need consideration.

REPLY - this is a simple question. A Gigabit ethernet solution will do exactly what you want -
These are made by -
Maxx Digital
Small Tree
Apace Systems
Edit Share

start making your phone calls to these companies.

Excellent Fibre solutions comes from
Apple
AVID
Facilis
Studio Network Solutions
Rorke Data (if you want to use Fibre Jet)
JMR

Cal Digit makes an excellent Infiniband solution

and Tiger Technology makes an excellent "do it yourself" fibre solution called MetaSAN.

Bob Zelin



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Vik Narayan
Re: SAN Networking Questions
on Feb 21, 2011 at 8:06:26 pm

So I suppose a Gigabit ethernet would support upto 4 streams of ProRes 422 (assuming this would be a linear equation).


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Bob Zelin
Re: SAN Networking Questions
on Feb 22, 2011 at 1:32:08 am

yes 20x4 = 80, but you are reaching the limit of the port.

Bob Zelin



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Matt Geier
Re: SAN Networking Questions
on Feb 22, 2011 at 3:15:15 am

Hi Vik,

Bottom line for you is the reliability and sustainability of whatever protocol you choose to use (Ethernet is 1, and Fiber Channel is another....) - They are not Apples to Apples, more like an Apple and an Orange.

If you want to reliabily count on running 4 streams of Pro Res along with "bursts" on the wire, 10Gb Ethernet is certainly the way to go. It may seem like the MB/sec is enough on a 10Gb wire, but think if you are pulling a 4th stream of Pro Res, and something large impacts the same wire. You may find you drop a frame.

Small Tree will always recommend 10Gb Ethernet when someone wants to run more then 2 streams of Pro Res to a single workstation, this is because it's reliably going to work.......This is just the way it is.

I'm not saying Bob is incorrect or faulty, there are people that have success running more then 2 streams on a Gigabit wire of Pro Res, however, eventually they may find that something goes wrong......Not saying it will, but it does happen.

Reliability is key.

Overall, an Ethernet network can cost little or more depending on how you want to network all your clients, and what Storage you choose to serve all those clients. Typically using Gigabit is okay, if you want to support an inexpensive Pro Res network, and 10Gb is more common (at least from Small Tree) for networks that want to do 1, 2, or 3 clients + using multi cam shoots, or 3 x Pro Res streams per client or more.

Regards,

Matt Geier (Small Tree)


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Bob Zelin
Re: SAN Networking Questions
on Feb 22, 2011 at 2:04:02 pm

Matt of course is correct. We have found that while we can get it to work sometimes, you will find that as you start increasing the number of streams PER FCP CLIENT, you will occationally get drop frames. Some people suffer with this, others dont - and it depends on your media.

We have just suffered thru one client who took all of our "claims" literally, and demanded that we show him the absolute maxiumum amount of streams on every computer, all at the same time. Of course, we failed. If you want "tons of streams" everywhere, all at once, choose 10Gig ethernet. Does it cost a lot more money - YES.

Bob Zelin



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Vik Narayan
Re: SAN Networking Questions
on Feb 23, 2011 at 9:06:59 pm

Thank you gentlemen, for your valuable insignts. I suppose the best route for me when it is time to upgrade will be either to stay with fibre or jump to 10gbps ethernet. I will most definitely look at Small Tree and Rorke Data (who are supporting our current very basic fibre solution).

Vik Narayan


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Bob Zelin
Re: SAN Networking Questions
on Feb 23, 2011 at 11:04:14 pm

I don't get it.

If you already have a fibre system, and are already dealing with Rorke Data, then how come you just don't go with Rorke Data, who can provide you with Fibre Jet ? Why all the questions ?

Bob Zelin



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Vik Narayan
Re: SAN Networking Questions
on Feb 24, 2011 at 6:15:30 am

Good question Bob, let me explain. I am stepping into a new role as a editor/post supervisor in my new job. I have been a post guy for many years but have worked in either local AVID storage, AVID Unity, or XSAN environments in large installations where the IT guys or contracted pros took care of all the back end stuff so I could get in and edit.

Till 2 weeks back Rorke Data was "some 'joe schmo' company that had sold fibrejet software to these guys a few years back" and i needed to get an upgrade from them now. The Fibrenetix Cubex storage they have currently is aging fast and will need to be replaced soon. Every vendor likes to tout their product as the best/most cost effecient/ etc. etc. and I know better than to take them at face value without due research. I had no idea fibre management software licenses were this expensive per client; it was already eating into the post budget. I was trying to see if moving away from fibre would be a viable option - therefore my question "is this overkill?" I wanted to find out what other solutions were out there? Who are the trusted names? Was todays "copper" technology the cheaper yet reliable way to go, much like SATA drives have caught up with SCSI drives.

Since I was in unchartered waters here, but knew I had to make some strategic decisions now and in the future, I came to the place and the people I trust, the Cow forums. Through this conversation, and by scouring through similar threads, I have learned a lot (atleast compared to where i was). I am starting to understand how to estimate bandwidth based on the codec, # of clients, and # of streams, and then calculate how much headroom Gig E/10 Gig E/Fibre will provide. The very fact that I mentioned Rorke Data in my last post was because i read one of your posts on a different thread where you spoke highly about their products. Similarly, I have learned that Small Tree is another major player offering high performance copper based solutions. I feel more confident about looking at their products without worrying that I am being served the proverbial cool-aid. I am planning to stop by their booths at NAB. Maybe I'll run into you as well :)

I apologize if I came across as if I was taking all of you for a pointless ride. I am not looking to buy a Porche at the price of a Hyundai. I just want to make sure I am getting a Porche when I pay for one. I assure you I leave with knowledge gained.

Vik Narayan


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Bob Zelin
Re: SAN Networking Questions
on Feb 24, 2011 at 1:33:35 pm

Vik writes -
I had no idea fibre management software licenses were this expensive per client; it was already eating into the post budget.


REPLY - let me explain something to you, to be very clear. Both you and I have been doing this for a very long time. The world has changed. Today computers are cheaper than ever, so are monitors, speakers, mixers, and the NLE software to run these computers. Today, in 2011, your "post budget" IS your storage (and your shared storage, network, archiving, asset management). NOTHING else is expensive. The cost of building a new 4 seat SAN system WITH the 4 NLE editors is the same cost as buying a single AVID 10 years ago.
And today, you are not buying expensive VTR's like you did in the past. So your post budget today consists of "what storage are we going to buy, and should it be shared storage".

All the companies discussed on this forum are good companies - all the products work. You may know that I am tied in with the Final Share solution, but all the solutions that are discussed on this forum all work. It's your job to call all these companies, and discuss your requirements in detail, so you can make the right decision.

If money was no issue, you would just buy an 8 Gig Fibre Channel XSAN solution and be done with it.

Bob Zelin



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Vik Narayan
Re: SAN Networking Questions
on Feb 24, 2011 at 11:51:20 pm

Bob

This realization is definitely dawning on me. I remember the old AVIDs; I worked on the second AVID that came to India back in 1993. It cost more than a nice house in a good neibourhood (i'm not even kidding). Last year, my wife picked up a copy of MC5 for $295 at her university. Figure that!!

Vik Narayan


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Neil Sadwelkar
Re: SAN Networking Questions
on Feb 26, 2011 at 2:55:50 pm

Vik,

You really should look at the Final Share solution that Bob mentioned. It works, and would work for your situation.

And, where in India did you first encounter an Avid in 1993? I'm curious, I was there too.

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


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Vik Narayan
Re: SAN Networking Questions
on Feb 26, 2011 at 10:30:41 pm

Hi Neil

I was not aware of Final Share till Bob mentioned it. I plan to look into that as an option as well.

As for the AVID, this was in Chennai - the first was a Film Composer brought in by Selva of Audio Media, which was really a feature film recording studio. Selva had the AVID distribution rights for India at that time. The second machine came to an editing studio called TeleVisuals, also in Chennai. I remember people coming from all over the country to see this machine in action. Soon, Prasad Studios acquired a couple. I'm not sure when they arrived in Mumbai, but by the time I moved to Mumbai in 1997, they were everywhere.

Vik Narayan


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Matt Geier
Re: SAN Networking Questions
on Mar 1, 2011 at 5:08:15 am

Hi Vik,

I've been following the chat for a while.

Remember using the term Fibre can cause misleading references... Fibre which is most commonly referred to in a tradition SAN environment is Fibre Channel. Just because you have it, doesn't mean it will always work in real time. --- This is true of any solution -- "Just because you have it, and it provides great throughput, doesn't mean it will work in real time"

Small Tree offers Gigabit and 10Gb Ethernet solutions designed for Mac OS X. Ethernet can be run over Copper or Fiber -- Ethernet connections. (Not Fibre Channel)

In a real time video editing environment, most people that come across the Ethernet solutions, can get by with Gigabit connections (reliably that can support 2 x Streams of Pro Res) ---

Some choose 10Gb for 3 or more streams per timeline, and some prefer 10Gb for fast Pushing and Pulling files to and fro on the storage network.

Gigabit on a Mac - about 100 Mb/sec roughly of through put is available on the wire.
10Gb on a Mac - about 250+ Mb/sec roughly of through put is available on the wire.

This may seem low; however in a Real Time environment, Bandwidth is usually the easy part to get working properly. What you really want to look for is Disk Response times needed for each video thread, often referred to as "Latency" of your storage.

In a Shared Storage environment it all changes; which gives you an overall Network Latency Profile.
Latency is key in real time strategy, along with bandwidth, along with a Solution provider that understands video on a network, shared, and direct attached storage is an even better play.

Having been a bunch of SGI and Cray people at Small Tree, we get that, and know what it takes to get things working in all the right ways, and what to tweak or not tweak to get what you need for Bandwidth performance, and Latency performance required for editing video on the wire....shared or not.

I hope that helps.

Regards,

Matt Geier (Small Tree)
952-641-7433


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Neil Sadwelkar
Re: SAN Networking Questions
on Mar 1, 2011 at 5:26:32 am

[Matt Geier] "Gigabit on a Mac - about 100 Mb/sec roughly of through put is available on the wire.
10Gb on a Mac - about 250+ Mb/sec roughly of through put is available on the wire."


You mean 100 Mega Bytes/sec for GigE, and 250+ Mega Bytes/sec for 10 GigE?

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


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Matt Geier
Re: SAN Networking Questions
on Mar 1, 2011 at 5:32:51 am

Yes --- Sorry --- Thanks for correcting me ...

Mb = Megabits
MB = Mega Bytes


My references were to MB..... not Mb... apologies.


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Dave Barnard
Re: SAN Networking Questions
on Mar 7, 2011 at 2:32:51 am

Hi Vik

When looking for ways to improve your SAN on a very tight budget make sure to look at all the variables in the equation to get the things you really need at an affordable cost.

I would recommend getting an independent consultant/systems integrator involved, they will be worth the expense to make the transition happen smoothly.

As you seem to have a 4Gb Fibre Channel setup already in place, upgrading this system would be the most cost effective, as you are thinking. There are a number of things to consider:

1) Storage upgrade - it is possible to upgrade the Fibernetix RAID with larger drives, but this needs some specialist storage experience to do. You will also need to backup your existing data and arrange some days of downtime for this to be done. It is possible to do it without downtime, but you would need to hire in and set up another FC RAID, adding to the cost.

2) MacPro - Unless you have an 8Gb Qlogic switch, there is no immediate advantage in having an 8Gb card in the new machine, and it is much more expensive than a 4Gb card. As you have Atto cards already, it would be best to keep to the same brand, though the cheaper Apple/LSI card may work perfectly well. 4Gb fibre should be fine for the upcoming edits, it will easily handle more than 4 Pro-Res streams.

3) SAN Software - For a small Final Cut editing SAN, volume based SAN software like Fibrejet gives a lot of workflow restrictions - no more than one machine can write to a volume at the same time. Tiger Technology's MetaSAN is file-based, allowing all machines to read and write to one or more volumes without restriction, and does not require a dedicated metadata controller. I would recommend getting some trial licenses to test it with your setup.

3) Ethernet connectivity - network sharing is possible with the FC RAID, but a much better solution if you are using MetaSAN is to use the complimentary product MetaLAN. This gives a direct connection to the SAN volume over ethernet at a low cost.

4) CatDV - This can be run on the old G5 connected to the SAN by MetaLAN/SAN, though a cheap standard Mac Mini would be much faster in creating proxies. Doing this would allow you to use the G5 as a dedicated SAN metadata controller, which gives considerable benefits for the cost of an extra MetaSAN licence.

cinedigital have designed and installed SAN systems for numerous film & broadcast clients over the past few years, from small post houses with 2 edit suites to large feature film projects with over 20 seats.

A majority of these have used MetaSAN, including the installation at Talkback Thames in the UK, featured in this Apple Pro article:
http://www.apple.com/uk/pro/profiles/talkbackthames/

Note that Apple make no mention of the SAN software they are using for some reason!

As I imagine you are still based in the USA, we are probably somewhat geographically disadvantaged to oversee your upgrade, but I hope this advice a help to you.

Mind you, from recent experience, international flights to the US are not that much more than internal ones! :)

All The Best

Dave Barnard
cinedigital Limited
London, UK
http://www.cinedigital.co.uk


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