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I hate tech refreshes this close to NAB

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Rick Sebeck
I hate tech refreshes this close to NAB
on Mar 14, 2011 at 5:04:50 pm

It always sucks thinking about doing some tech refreshes this close to NAB. But as the saying goes - if you need it now, buy now - especially if you have the workload to recoup on your investment within a year.

That said - our 3 station boutique is in desperate need of a SAN - or at least some external enclosures that offer RAID5. I know SANs are going to be the popular thing this year at NAB - but we can't hold off much longer.

We currently basically build software RAIDs in various configurations (0 or1) with the internal slots of our mac pros. Then swap out the drives for different projects.

At my previous company we used to use Sonnet enclosures in the same manner. But we got bit in the ass a couple times with RAID 0 when we needed the speed. Plus lazy editors would put project files on there and when we lost the RAID it got messy.

Someday we hope to buy a proper SAN - but in the meantime we were thinking of getting some external enclosures to tide us over. We don't NEED file sharing capabilities yet - really we just need somewhat fast, redundant local storage.

We are deciding between theSonnet D400QR5 and the OWC Mercury Rack Pro. Both enclosures offer RAID 0,1 and RAID 5 as well as JBOD. Plus they have SATA and FW connections, so we wouldn't have to buy Sata controller cards for all the machines - just the main "online room"

The OWC is remarkably cheaper - which as a "short term" solution may be fine. Just wondering if anyone has recommendations on which to go with and why?

Or if I should put the credit card away and wait for "the next big thing" to come out in April. We did just buy a Mac Pro with "thunderbolt" but I've heard that it doesn't look like lightpeak PCI cards are coming anytime soon, so I don't see waiting for that to pan out.

-Rick

PS> Bob before you rip me a new one -- as a former Final Share user - I know that option, but again we aren't making the SAN leap at this time.


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Nate Cooper
Re: I hate tech refreshes this close to NAB
on Mar 14, 2011 at 5:47:30 pm

Hey Rick,

Are you planning on getting 3 x enclosures, then sharing them out AFP? Or are you just planning on doing locally attached storage and want the same units for each workstation?

Nate Cooper
nate.cooper@promax.com
949.375.2738

Scuba Dive? http://www.postproductiondivers.com/

I support:
Xsan
MXFserver
ShareMAX
EVO/SANmp
Facilis
MetaSAN


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Matt Geier
Re: I hate tech refreshes this close to NAB
on Mar 14, 2011 at 7:16:25 pm

Hi Rick,

What's your definition of a SAN? -

Sounds like your in a bad place right now and could use some insight to Ethernet based Shared Network solutions for Mac OS X.

Do you want to have Shared Storage that's able to support those project files you speak of so that everyone can just have the same RAID to work off of? Is it being considered?

How many TB of Storage are you thinking?
How many Video Editing Suites do you need to support at one time?
What Video Formats are you running, and how many to each workstation?

Even if you're not looking for Direct Attached (Because those will run differently then if they are shared on the network) - I can help you 100%.

Please contact me if you like. I've left my number at the bottom for you.

ALL of Small Tree's Storage Products will come with RAID 5, we won't allow anything less. RAID is not DATA Protection however, so you should also consider a BACKUP solution as well. RAID 5, 6 etc, will allow your RAID to lose a drive or two, but the data needs to be stored in a safe place too, just in case the RAIDs do crash.

If the time is here and now, get busy creating, or wait for things to keep going wrong! (I hope it's not the latter)

Regards,

Matt Geier (Small Tree)
952-641-7433


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Rick Sebeck
Re: I hate tech refreshes this close to NAB
on Mar 14, 2011 at 7:35:44 pm

Hey guys, Thanks for the quick responses.

As I mentioned, we are currently just looking for attached storage enclosures. We rarely work on the same projects at the same time, but we do often take the project between the two different stations. So popping out a drive array and swapping it in another enclosure seems to work fine. When projects are done, we then archive the files and reformat the RIAD and start again with another project.

I realize this a SAN board, but we're not really looking into shared drives. I have built/bought and worked in many environments with full fibre SAN setups, but we are trying to grow slow and keep our overhead to a minimum. And Matt, as I mentioned I am familiar with ethernet based sharing systems (Apple file sharing), and we're not interested in those systems at this time. We just need recommendations for decent direct attached RAID enclosures.

Editor


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Matt Geier
Re: I hate tech refreshes this close to NAB
on Mar 14, 2011 at 7:56:04 pm

HI Rick,

That's a fair reply.

I'd like to mention that a lot of times what you spend $$ for Direct Attached, those dollars would also be well used in a Shared Ethernet environments. (giving you the need not to pass drives back and forth.) -- Taking drives in and out a lot of times, lessens there long term reliability because they are always spinning up and down...This is why you leave Shared RAIDS on all the time....or all week, and shut them down on the weekend.

The long term investment will outweigh the short term "i need something now" periods.

It's not up to me where you spend you're dollars. I just like to see people walk away from here as happy as possible for the money they put in.

Regardless of what you decide; it's still critical to get something based on the real time performance of the video formats you require, and how many total you need to run, and what bandwidth is available to do so....

That said -- I'll leave you be.

Regards,

Matt G


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Alex Geroulaitis
Re: I hate tech refreshes this close to NAB
on Mar 14, 2011 at 8:22:28 pm

[Rick Sebeck] "We just need recommendations for decent direct attached RAID enclosures."

Define "decent". Capacity, performance, connectivity, reliability, support, warranty? Oh, and... budget? :)

Alex (DV411)


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Rick Sebeck
Re: I hate tech refreshes this close to NAB
on Mar 14, 2011 at 8:48:45 pm

I'll take em one at a time....

Capacity. As I mentioned we build capacity based on the project. Ranging from 1TB-6TB per project, we currently mirror two 2TB drives for projects, and stripe two 2TB drives for media (speed). This is why we want to go RAID 5 - 4 2TB drives for 6TB of redundant/ fast enough space. Each project we buy 4 2TB WD drives at $150/drive - bill the client $600 for drive/archive/ect. Piggy bank a couple small jobs together so they don't eat the entire cost.

Performance. We work mainly in Proress 422 HD. Uncompressed 10bit would be nice - but not crucial at this time. Using the SATA connection with 4 drives RAID 5 we should be fine.

Connectivity. We have Sata in the machines - but having FW is nice as well. If you mean sharing, it would be just a quick apple share to transfer files off occasionally. We don't need shared storage.

Reliability is key - which is why I'm looking for recommendations/real life stories of the difference between the OCW and the sonnet enclosures - since the price for each is so different.

Support. We're pretty tech heavy guys so we can handle the day to day operations - but if the systems are failing we'd obviously like some tech support.

Warranty. OWC has two prices for their enclosures- the basic is a 2 year support, the professional is 5 year. Due to Moores law - I don't expect equipment to last more than 3 years.

Budget. Pricing out 4TB enclosures - OWC's are $799 and the Sonnet are $1595 If you jump to an 8 drive at Sonnet (if I really need the speed for uncompressed it is $3995

SO again - trying to spend as little as possible so I can save up for a $60k SAN - I'm leaning towards the OWC - but I'm afraid of the expression "you get what you pay for" so the question was....

Does anyone have any real world stories of either of these products. The only negative I heard about the OWC enclosures was that with FW800 connections the speed is only 40MB write. But I plan on using the Sata connections - so I should be good - again for proress422 HD

Editor


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Bob Zelin
Re: I hate tech refreshes this close to NAB
on Mar 14, 2011 at 9:08:23 pm

Hi Rick -
as you know, a SAN does not cost $60,000 anymore. Your Final Share system was under $20,000.

But I know what you want - you want what everyone wants - to spend zero money. Well, this is your answer. But a single 3TB Hitachi drive and stick it in each MAC computer. You will have a ton of storage, and with rates over 120MB/sec per drive, you will have no issue doing ProRes422HQ with your internal disk drive. Look how much money I just saved you.

Being associated with Final Share, which is the cheapest shared storage system in the world, I know that NOTHING is cheap enough, unless it's free (or costs 200 bucks). No, you can't do shared storage for 200 bucks, or 600 bucks, or even $1500 bucks.

Just get some internal drives, (you can even get them from OWC) and go to work. Those SATA card/external box combinations from OWC really suck compared to any professional product. Save your money - but the internal drives, and call it a day. Come back when you can buy a real car.

Bob Zelin



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Rick Sebeck
Re: I hate tech refreshes this close to NAB
on Mar 14, 2011 at 9:22:07 pm

Yeah - I was impressed with the Final Share system you put together for me which was under $20k. That said - I don't have $20k to spend today.

We are currently shoving Sata drives in our boxes - but opening and closing the macs, having to use the trays - it gets kinda hairy. Plus we are limited to software RAID 0 or 1 - so we have to use the RAID 0 when we need the HD speed - but try to stick to the 1 for piece of mind.

The OWC enclosures don't use trays, the drives just slide in and out. And we get hardware RAID 5.

Everyone wants a SAN - who wouldn't want shared fast unlimited storage? And we all act like we are making Avatar 2 - when in reality most my jobs are in and out in a couple days. Maybe my partner will lend a hand doing some graphics - or I need to transfer some files to the audio room - but we aren't all cutting the same footage at the same time. If I was working on a feature - or a documentary - or in a news environment where producers and editors are all cutting from the same material that needs to be archived on a SAN- then I wouldn't be going the cheap route.

i just noticed that the OWC enclosures have only been out for a couple days - so I guess I can't expect any real world stories. I think I'm going to be the guinea pig here.

Bob, I'm curious as to why they "really suck". I've been using OWC external enclosures dor a while now - they have been performing better than Lacie or GRaids. And the "Enterprise" version of the enclosure I'm looking at using enterprise Sata Drives, includes 5 years parts and labor, and 3 years basic level file protection if a drive goes down. Seems like pretty good customer support.

Editor


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Matt Geier
Re: I hate tech refreshes this close to NAB
on Mar 14, 2011 at 9:52:40 pm

Rick,

The more and more I read this thread, it's coming down to how cheap people can put something together and HOPE it works, and it's all only based on Bandwidth of X parts ... and nothing more.


A lot of people think when you tell them they need something "fast" they go out and buy the cheapest thing that goes 800MB/sec or more and thinks that will do them forever well.

It's not true.

To do Video Editing, the real questions should be, whatever you decide to get is; How long do you expect it to last before you need more of it... who will you call when it fails and will they be able to help you do something other then replace the hardware; assuming it's not defective.... or will you just keep throwing money at it hoping to fix the problem you've been plagued with.....

Take it from me as part of a team of people that specialized in deploying real time solutions for places like NASA and the likes of people that need 100% uptime; "Just because you move X hundreds of MB/sec of data, it doesn't mean diddle for what you can do for real time performance of video....."

In your case, If it's not the Pro Res 422 15FPS that breaks it, it will be 422 HQ 15FPS, if it's not that, it will be the 422 HQ 50FPS .... ... Or will it?

This goes in saying, regardless of this being Shared Storage or Direct Attached Storage question post.

Make sure whatever you buy with the best confidence, is that your investment isn't a money pit of sorts.....


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Nate Cooper
Re: I hate tech refreshes this close to NAB
on Mar 14, 2011 at 10:31:52 pm

I've worked with Sonnet stuff before, but never OWC. If you're really concerned with reliability between those two devices I'd go with Sonnet. Here's why...

The most likely thing to fail in either enclosure is the drives. With OWC selling dirt cheap, and I mean CHEAP you can pretty much guaruntee they are not testing their drives. Buy, pack, ship. Usually, with companies like Sonnet you are paying extra for someone who knows what they are doing to test drives and give you a much higher success rate, when it comes to lot getting a lemon.

Nate Cooper
nate.cooper@promax.com
949.375.2738

Scuba Dive? http://www.postproductiondivers.com/

I support:
Xsan
MXFserver
ShareMAX
EVO/SANmp
Facilis
MetaSAN


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Bob Zelin
Re: I hate tech refreshes this close to NAB
on Mar 15, 2011 at 6:55:04 pm

I have not seen the new "no sled" OWC chassis, but I certainly have seen their other "RAID" chassis, and it is, without question, the worst piece of crap tin can on the market. When we debate on these forums - "should I get a Dulce, Cal Digit, Small Tree, G-Tech, Active, SNS, Maxx Digital, Lacie", etc, etc. all of these products are manufacturered better than the tin can that OWC sources out.
But again, I have not seen the new "no sled" product, so I can't accurately comment on this.

When I look at cheap eSATA cards, for example, you can get the "good" cards from Sonnet (for example - like the E4P) - or a similar OWC no name card for 50 bucks. Will they support drivers for new MAC OS, when Lion comes out, etc. - is that worth 200 bucks more that you are dealing with a manufacturer that will continue to support and write new code for their products ?

If that is worth nothing to you, and you say "hey man, I want to save the 200 bucks" - then I have nothing else to say. Professionals expect reliability and support, and they expect their media to be safe. As it is, expensive drive arrays are unreliable
compared to what they should be. As for the low end cheapo products - I only ask - do you have to make a living with this stuff, and expect your clients to pay you for your work ?

BobZelin



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Alex Geroulaitis
Re: I hate tech refreshes this close to NAB
on Mar 15, 2011 at 8:10:41 pm

Thanks for the answers Rick.

[Rick Sebeck] "Reliability is key - which is why I'm looking for recommendations/real life stories of the difference between the OCW and the sonnet enclosures - since the price for each is so different."

Haven't worked with either and like neither because of cheap appearances and difficulties and compromises inherent in making a decent 4-bay RAID5 box on a budget.

The one box I do like (worked with the manufacturer for over 12 years) - does have good quality but I know little of its RAID functionality. It also needs a refresh to SATA/600 and USB 3.0.

(Do any 1-st tier vendors have 4-bay RAID5 eSATA boxes? NAS - yes, but how about eSATA/USB/FW?)

There is also an issue of connectivity: 4 drives can potentially have a combined throughput of close to 600MB/s, and using SATA/300, USB 2.0 or FW800 doesn't do it justice. USB 3.0 and SATA/600 are more appropriate.

Then there is a question of what happens when the drive fails. How easy and reliable is the box' volume rebuild procedure and how long does it take? This really is a key question - so I'd hold off buying one until you have a good answer to that.

Generally, it's hard to trust a small and inexpensive RAID5 box for quality of construction and components inside, and thus, ultimately for data integrity. Even half-decent RAID5 controllers aren't cheap - and you aren't going to find one in an el-cheapo 4-bay RAID5 box.

See if you can find documentation on how to rebuild a RAID5 volume after a drive failure: if it's well documented and clear - you may have a winner. If not, I'd look into using dual-drive RAID1 boxes.

HTH.

Alex (DV411)


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Bob Zelin
Re: I hate tech refreshes this close to NAB
on Mar 16, 2011 at 7:30:19 pm

here is an 8 TB "RAID" box from OWC
http://eshop.macsales.com/item/Other%20World%20Computing/MEQX2T8.0S/

If you go to the "specs", you see that OWC does not make a RAID controller for this, but recommends several cards.

the only real raid controller that is shown is from Highpoint -
http://eshop.macsales.com/item/Highpoint%20Technologies/RRAID3522/

which means that you do not get your support from OWC, but from Highpoint. The other cards, from Newer Tech, Firmtek, and Sonnet are not RAID cards.

This product line from OWC -
http://eshop.macsales.com/shop/hard-drives/RAID/Desktop/
appears to have an internal RAID structure, and uses a simple
single port interface.


I am hard pressed under the support tab to see any discussion of how the RAID works, how to rebuild, or where to find a manual on line of how to do this. Maybe it's based on faith, maybe it's based on a lot of phone calls and begging.

Bob Zelin



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