Media Server Options
Sorry, this is a bit of a cross-post as I first posted it as a response in another thread:
We have a MacPro and an iMac with the occasional MacBook Pro thrown into the mix. We primarily work in ProRes422 with FCP7 and AE 5.5. We have a Thecus N7700PRO hanging off of our switch as our primary media server. Its populated with 7-3TB Hitachi Deskstars. We've had the Thecus online for about six months and it has worked perfectly. It gives us 107-120mbps on our 1gig net, which is more than enough throughput for us and similar to what I see advertised by Smalltree and Promax
We are looking to expand and I have been looking at the Qnap TS-EC1279U-RP. It's $4,679 from B&H.
Populated with the new 3TB Ultrastars at $369/per:
And I have a 36TB media server for under $10K, with a spare drive. A similar setup from Promax, at 32TB nonetheless, is just about $15K. Smalltree is even more.
Can anyone tell me a downside to the Qnap or Thecus servers or explain why I should pay 50-200% more from these other providers (Promax, Smalltree, Apace, Facilis)? Yes, I'm guessing that they offer support, but is it really worth the additional $$?
If you have three people that are doing shared storage, with ProRes422 in FCP7, all at the same time, and all you are using is a cheap 1G switch, and nothing else, then you are the only person in the world that has gotten this to work, and you are very lucky.
You should not only buy whatever you want that you have mentioned, but you should buy a lottery ticket as well. Most of the people that call us for shared storage, is because they have tried exactly what you have described, and IT DOES NOT WORK. But it's working for you - that is amazing.
Don't take anyone's advice (certainly not mine), and buy what you need, and stick it on your switch, and go to work.
If it does not work, then you know who to call.
Interesting reply. First, why are you assuming that we're using a cheap 1gig switch? We have an EdgeCore ES4528V, which I have read is one of the best and not close to cheap.
Putting this system together was about one of the simplest things I've ever done and I am not a network specialist by any stretch.
Kinda doubt that we are the ONLY ones that have got something like this to work.
It's a server and a RAID 5 array. Doesn't sound so special.
So my question still stands. Why are these other systems so special?
And you sarcasm is well noted. When I do need help, I will remember that when I choose who to call.
the ES4528V is an excellent switch. It is usually used in conjunction with a Small Tree PEG6 or PEG4 card, where link aggregation is used. If you are not using link aggregation, and you simply have one ethernet port of your "server computer" going to the ES4528V, and have your 3 client computers connected to the ES4528V switch - you are using this switch, no different than any generic 1Gig ethernet switch (like a Netgear that you would get from Office Depot).
I find it hard to believe that you are able in this configuration to play back THREE Mac computers, all doing ProRes422 (20MB/sec) from a single connection from your server computer, and not get any drop frames. If you are doing ONE COMPUTER AT A TIME, this could absolutely work, but if you select a file on your shared drive volume, and have all three MAC's connect to this one shared volume, and tell all three computers to play from that single shared volume, with a single 1Gig ethernet connection from your server going to the switch - well, I find this very hard to believe.
As for my sarcasm, I don't give a damn what you think. I am here to give you ACCURATE INFORMATION on your questions, with as much detail as possible. If you don't like my attitude, perhaps you can find free consulting from a nice person.
These "other systems" are so special, because they are either link aggregating multiple ethernet ports in the server to give you more bandwidth (so you can get more data going to multiple clients), or they are using 10Gig ethernet from server to switch, for the same purpose, with more efficiency and bandwidth. They are also using hi quality, hi speed RAID arrays, that can support multiple streams of video from a single shared volume, without giving you "drop frame" errors.
What else, Andrew ? It's 1am, and I am building one of those "special systems" right now. I want to go to bed, but I have to deliver tomorrow. I am in no mood for your attitude.
Bob, please refrain from responding further to any of my posts. I don't need YOUR attitude.
Now, is there anyone from one of these other companies that I mentioned or any other professional who wishes to chime in? I would really like to hear what you think.
I'm not trying to get a something for nothing and realize that you typically get what you pay for. I'm just wondering what $15-30K is going to get me that $10K won't. Thoughts?
BTW, the Qnap box I mentioned does support link aggregation and yes I am still getting 100+mbps from our Thecus N7700PRO on a single ethernet connection.
it's more than just the storage, performance, type of connection or raid that makes a system suitable for media & entertainment workflows.
Some of these systems are using the so called "shared file system" which make Avid workflows very smooth compared to standard san/nas file systems. They offer features like a basic user management and avid bin sharing allowing multiple editors to work in the same project at the same time.
such solutions are:
Dynamic Drive Pool
Most m&e companies require these features in Avid workflow in order to make s shared environments even possible. Some of these solutions can be extended by a media asset management system. For Avid ISIS this would be Interplay and for Editshare it would be flow.
Working with FCP is less of an issue because FCP does not require a strict folder structure for media files as Avid does. The problem here mostly starts if multiple editors work with duplicated projects on the same source material. There is allways a chance that material gets lost or that material gets overwritten by accident. as far as i know editshare supports a project locking also for FCP.
So what you are buying is not only a storage but a storage designed for m&e workflows. Companies like Editshare & Avid are putting in a lot of know-how and development to make bin/project sharing as easy as possible. If you don't require or can't afford a Unity/Editshare storage you can also take a look at FlavourSys Strawberry. It is a software that allows multi-app, multi-plattform bin/project sharing/locking for m&e workflows. The sofwtare is storage agnostic.
Hope that helped a bit.
Thanks for your reply, Marco.
I understand the concept of a "shared file/project system" and realize that is something to consider.
Right now we are a fairly small shop and just using the standard AFP has been working for us. If we were to grow to say 4 or 5 edit bays, we would definitely want to consider installing more of a managed system.
I did take a quick look at FlavourSys and it looks intriguing. I'll definitely let you know if I have any more questions about it.
But for now we are just looking for a robust, reliable, cost-effective and relatively easy to use media server.
Still haven't heard if anyone has any experience with Qnap, but from what I am reading on their site, it looks like a strong contender.
Thanks again for your help.
Hi Marco -
Andrew is using FCP and Adobe products, not AVID. You are correct in saying that EditShare, Facilis, and of course AVID ISIS 5000 will handle the file structure that AVID requires. If you create a volume based system (as is sold by Studio NEtwork Solutions, Command Soft Fibre Jet, etc), you can also get AVID to work as well.
But as you know, all of these systems are expensive. QNAP does have some 10Gig based systems like this -
but again, these may be out of the budget range that he is looking to spend.
Most of the QNAP products are generic 1Gig NAS products, which will server that 90 - 100MB/sec to a single client, but not that bandwidth to multiple clients at the same time. And I have no idea if the interface host adaptors they work with have OS X drivers.
As you research the QNAP site, you will see they have products that offer iSCSI support - but at that point, you might as well get a Studio Network Solutions SANmp system, which is designed to to exactly what he is looking for .
Of course, all of this, and this entire thread comes down to price.
You have accurately pointed out teriffic systems from AVID, EditShare and Facilis, but this defeats the point of the post - why spend so much money, if you don't have to.
Once again, I have no idea of how Andrew is getting three MAC systems to all play back at 90MB/sec or greater, all at the same time from an ES4528V without link aggregation.
From the Qnap site under Software Spec:
Dual Gigabit NICs with Jumbo Frame
Port Trunking/NIC Teaming (Modes: Balance-rr, Active Backup, Balance XOR, Broadcast, IEEE 802.3ad/Link Aggregation, Balance-tlb and Balance-alb)
BTW: This is a screenshot of the BMD Speed Test run from our iMac (core 2 duo with jumbo) taken while another editor is working on an FCP project on the same server, the Thecus N7700Pro. Don't know what this proves, but we really don't have any dropped frame issues, even when we have the same project open on two machines. I will admit that even though we may have 3 or even 4 computers connected to the server at the same time, we rarely would work on a project from more than 2 machines at the same time:
With the Qnap and link aggregation, I'm guessing we would get even better throughput.
what this proves is that I have to do new testing. All of my original testing, before I got into shared storage was done in early 2008. The original tests were done with a Gig E switch and a big SCSI array (StorCase) and this never worked. I have seen other people try the same with failed results. But technology changes, and we have gotten so used to doing either link agg or 10Gig, that I don't give it a second thought. But I could be wrong, and I certainly will do tests again, with this simple setup. I am asked all the time about a simple 2 user system.
Certainly if you can enable link agg (thats a big if - just because it has two NIC's does not mean that they can be bonded together) - then you would get more stable performance. I see that it says "port trunking - NIC teaming" - which is bonding.
The bottom line is that I have not personally tried the QNAP so I am not qualified to answer your question on this product - I can only speculate, based on past experience. But as we all know, things change, and things seem to get better.
So I've been doing some research and it looks like I can get the 10g network cards for both the Qnap and the EdgeCore. So for a few more bucks (looks like $700-1000) I can be 10g to the switch. That should rock, no?
Hi Andrew -
I am not familiar with the QNAP. If you get the QNAP with a 10Gig interface, then you need a 10Gig card that goes into your Mac Pro server, that will connect to the QNAP. What this really means is that you need to MAKE SURE that the interface card has 10Gig drivers. Most 10Gig ethernet cards to NOT have OS X drivers (which is why so few companies offer this !).
So yes - if you can confirm that you can have a 10Gig card for your MAC, that can connect to the QNAP interface, then yes, you should get teriffic performance. Again, I am not familiar with the QNAP, but there must be enough bandwidth in the box to allow for shared storage. I recently put together the usual multiport ethenet card with link agg and a drive array with only FOUR drives in it, and it was not fast enough to perform (like I am used to with an 8 drive array).
I would love to hear your results. And if you want to try a multiport card with your ES4528V switch, just let me know, and I will send you one. No charge if it doesn't work.
have you tried to run the BMD disk test on both Macs at the same time? However I'd be happy if you will share the result of the QNAP-ES4528V 10GbE setup (if you will get it).
"Post Fata Resurgo"
This is for avid, but perhaps interesting for you...
Its a software we are developing that turns a mac into a shared storage/project server for Avid.