Terrablock upgrades or jump ship to MetaSAN?
Our 8Tb 24D Terrablock is 5 years old now. It has worked flawlessly and successfully recovered from drive failures, multiple times. I like that it’s a low maintenance solution. File level was never an issue until we installed CAT DV.
Through a creative workflow, we’re able to get CAT DV to work, but it would be nice to have file level access. That’s a $7k upgrade. I need more nearline storage too, another $8k.
For the same price, I could go with MetaSAN. Use our existing XServe and fiber cards and buy a 32tb RAID. That would give me a file level solution for CAT DV, give me more nearline and turn it into online, give me more SAN space as well as space for weekly SAN backups (which I currently do not do).
How well does MetaSAN work? Can I expect to go from Terrablock to MetaSAN without much headache or am better off staying with our older, but solid system.
First off, that's great that you've had the system up and running 5 years and have been happy with it. Always a good thing to hear.
One thing I would note, I haven't seen many users out there succesfully running the file locking in Terrablock yet. If someone has seen otherwise, please jump in. From my understanding they tried to release it last year, it fell on it's face and now the GigE side of File Locking is working, but the fibre side still needs some patches. Again, if anyone has heard different please chime in, the last time I looked into this was 2 months ago.
As far as metasan goes, it can work great and can be a headache. As with most things, it depends on how you set it up. I assume you would use the Xserve as the metadata server. They say you don't "need" one, but in my experience it is definitely good to have. If you don't have a dedicated metadata server for metasan, you can easily get into a fixable yet annoying circumstance where you need to do a strange boot up sequence to get your media back online. Other than that, it's a pretty nice little software for sharing and a great alternative to Xsan.
What exactly doesn't work for your volume based workflow with CatDV? Have you talked to anyone at Squarebox about it? I've seen many users be very happy with CatDV in volume locking SANs.
[Nate Cooper] "What exactly doesn't work for your volume based workflow with CatDV? Have you talked to anyone at Squarebox about it? I've seen many users be very happy with CatDV in volume locking SANs."
We have an ingest station, suites, and producer macbooks.
The ingest station has it's own read/write volume. All P2, SxS, and CF cards are copied to a RAW folder on the ingest volume, then converted to Quicktime. The ingest volume is shared out over the network and the producers and prediators can log from their own desks in CAT DV (5 users total). The new file names are updated in finder.
The producers can read from the shared network volume and make rough cuts in FCP. As you can imagine, performance varies. Everyone could take a reader to their desk and ingest but that's more time consuming and harder to archive. Depending on performance, sometimes users copy the footage through the network, log locally, then copy back to Terrablock. But hat's time consuming too.
It's nice to ingest immediately to the Terrablock because of RAID protection. RAW and converted files are archived to nearline. When on nearline, I have to reconnect the files to CAT DV because all footage can and will be reused in future projects. This is our growing stock footage collection which is the main reason for CAT DV.
If we went with MetaSAN, it would be nice to have the footage all online instead of moving it from online to nearline then back to online. And all files would be converted, logged, and kept in the same place until they would be moved into deep storage.
The shared volume over the network is new workflow for us. Although it’s a cool idea, it’s not ideal and this is why I’m looking into file level.
[Nate Cooper] " now the GigE side of File Locking is working,"
I would be satisfied with that, although it's a steep price just for GigE. Right now we all multitask and do not have a dedicated media wrangler. Making things simple is important.
My VAR would do the MetaSAN install. The Xserve would be the controller. If it works well when properly configured then this might be a good solution for us.
If I'm reading this correct you are only using the Terrablock as a single volume and then hosting it out via AFP. In a sense, you're using it as fast locally attached storage.
Have you tried having the 5 editing suites mount the ingest volume as read only via Facilis. Then mount the same volume via the AFP share. It's a good workflow that I've seen work. It lets you keep the speed of the SAN for reading files, while giving everyone read/write access to the NAS volume. Yes, it's the same volume mounted twice, but it can work and will likely increase the speed your getting out of the existing hardware.
That being said, it is a 5 year old system, which tends to be where you start seeing a lot of problems with any storage. So if you have the budget, it's a good idea to start looking at other options.
If you have a VAR that knows MetaSAN and your using a dedicated metadata controller, you should be good. Personally, I'd go that route, just because it's more proven in the market right now.
One other option would be to contact Facilis directly. I'm sure if you're an existing user and are considering making a switch to a competitor they will likley work with you to keep you as a client.
[Nate Cooper] "Have you tried having the 5 editing suites mount the ingest volume as read only via Facilis. Then mount the same volume via the AFP share."
Yes. Currently doing that now. Each suite has it's own read/write volume, and they all read the tapeless volume (for editing). Logging is all done through CAT DV and the AFP share.
[Nate Cooper] "If you have a VAR that knows MetaSAN and your using a dedicated metadata controller, you should be good. Personally, I'd go that route, just because it's more proven in the market right now."
That's what I need to know. Thanks!
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Senior Editor/Associate Producer