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Ethernet SAN for Editing

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Kris Brandow
Ethernet SAN for Editing
on Sep 6, 2011 at 5:52:21 pm

Hello all,

As the title suggest I'm looking for an ethernet SAN set up (Fibre is too expensive for us and probably overkill).

Our current set up includes 2 editors, a powermac G5 with final cut pro and a dell workstation running Adobe Production Premium CS3. We recently purchased a third edit station (an iMac with Adobe Production Premium CS5.5) but we have not started using it for editing. For the past many years we have used local drives for editing (we didn't need a server because there were 2 different editing systems on our 2 editors).

We have 2 spare computers that we are converting to edit stations and are planning on buying Adobe Production Premium CS5.5 for those stations, so we'll have a total of 5 edit stations, 4 of which will have CS5.5 (We're upgrading the CS3 workstation as well). While we could use local editing, it will be much easier to manage if we have a shared server set up.

I've been digging around in this forum for the past few weeks and I've read Bob Zelin's Do-it-yourself SAN article. So I have gone through a lot of the things other people have said, but I'm still confused on a couple of topics).

We currently are editing in SD (our station is close to upgrading to HD). We use dv for the SD editing and will most likely be using Apple ProRes as our format for HD (it's one of the few formats our softron system will record in).

From my research here is what I've figured we needed (please correct me if I've got something wrong):
A "server" computer with direct attached storage or internal storage (RAID 5 or 6)
a gigabit quad port NIC for the server
a gigabit managed switch
metaLAN server for the server computer
metaLAN client for the client computers (the 5 edit stations)

Here are my questions: (I'm trying to go for the easier set up with the least headaches)
Do I need metaLAN server/metaLAN client or could I just use sharing from the OS?
Do I have to use external storage for the metaLAN server or could we build a server, throw some drives in a RAID configuration inside of it and have metaLAN server share it?
If external RAID is required, is a set up using a DAS that has miniSAS out into a PCIe RAID card going to be fast enough? (I've been looking at SansDigital TowerRaid TR8X, with a RocketRAID 2722)
Will the iMac (it is an Intel iX) be a problem because it doesn't support jumbo frames?

For the equipment, if I need higher quality stuff just send me some suggestions. Like if we can use a TowerRaid and RocketRAID without issues I'd like to go with that option).

Lastly, while it would be wonderful if I could go out and buy one of the big names ethernet SAN solutions (I'd really love a small tree system or MAXX system), we are a student run television station and we don't have the funds to purchase one. I figure since we are editing in ProRes that we won't need a ton of bandwidth for the set up. I'm new to SAN, so if I'm wrong about something please correct me. I would rather find out what I'm doing wrong now, instead of after we've already dropped thousands on a server set up that doesn't work.

Thanks for any help you guys can give me!

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Bob Zelin
Re: Ethernet SAN for Editing
on Sep 6, 2011 at 6:33:31 pm

you will find that building it yourself is very painful. When I first read about MetaLAN in early 2008, I said "wow, I can do this myself". Here we are several years later, and all I can tell you is that it is a very painful experience. Most schools have much bigger budgets than most production companies. You will still spend thousands trying to build it yourself, and the odds are you will probably fail doing so. There are lots of wonderful companies on this forum (they post here all the time) that sell teriffic systems. They have worked thru all the problems that you have not even thought about yet.

SO, here are your choices -
1) build it yourself, suffer thru the configuration problems, save your school ultimately $5000 total expense, and be the big hero - and possibly compete with these other companies.

2) build it yourself, spend $10,000 anyway with the
Rocket Raid/MetaLan/SansDigital, and fail - and your school won't like you anymore -

3) spend $15,000, and get a working system from one of the companies that you see post here all the time (make some calls, find out how much they charge for entry level systems - everyone is very competitive these days) - and be a big hero, with very little aggrivation.

It's your choice - it's up to you.

Bob Zelin

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Kris Brandow
Re: Ethernet SAN for Editing
on Sep 6, 2011 at 8:57:44 pm

Thanks for the response Bob! Sadly, our student run television station is part of a different funding group than the school so we have access to a lot less funding.

I have a lot of the components that are needed to build most of the metaLAN in the studio already (i.e. I have a computer I could use, we need to buy more storage space anyway, etc) so would buying the extra components I have to set up a test environment to see what happens be worth it? Either way I plan on calling up John to see if what solutions are available in my price range.

If metaLAN would work, I'd love to go with that, but if I need to go with a more expensive system I'll see what I can do.

Just so I know, what kind of problems did you encounter that makes the process of setting up metaLAN so painful?

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