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Promise VTrak E610f without a Fiber Switch?

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Øystein Rabbe
Promise VTrak E610f without a Fiber Switch?
on Nov 26, 2012 at 4:23:26 pm

I have been using a setup that is not very efficient for a while and I wonder what could be a affordable change to make it work better.

Here is my current setup:
RAID: Vtrak 610f 12TB
2x FiberOptics connected to a Mac Pro 8core
which shares the volume over 2x1GB to a HP ProCurve Ethernet Switch

Connected to this server I have 3 Mac Pros all with 2x1GB Trunks Ethernet

When I do speedtesting it used to work better, but right now it seems like the maximum speed is less than half of the potential of a 1GB Ethernet, both for Write and Read.
I do speedtest with BlackMagic SpeedTest.


Whats the best solution to make the most out of the Promise Raid?
Do I have to upgrade to a Fiber Switch and put everyone on a Fiber Network?
How do I manage that? xSAN? Licenses? Its a huge cost?

Any other options? Can I put all the FiberOptics out of the raid on media converters and plug it in my current ethernet switch? If so, how do I manage that?

Any other way that is manageable and stable?


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Sebastien Bertrand
Re: Promise VTrak E610f without a Fiber Switch?
on Nov 26, 2012 at 6:35:58 pm

Hello Øystein,

Yes, connecting your Promise storage via fibre channel is your best option for performances. Get a pair of mac minis with Promise SANLINK for the xsan metadata controllers, 3 fiber cards for your workstations and a second ethernet switch for a metadata network.

Upgrade your workstations to Lion or Mountain Lion to get the free Xsan licenses. If you have dual controllers on your Promise storage, you can use the 8 fiber ports on your promise storage to connect up to 6 workstations (2 metadata servers + 6 workstations). Unless you go over 6 workstations, there is no need for a fiber channel switch.

To set that up, I recommend you get an experienced integrator, as the concepts involved in setting up a SAN are quite different from a standard network installation.

Sebastien Bertrand
Systems Integrator, Ordigraphe Inc.
Toronto, Canada
http://www.ordigraphe.com


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Eric Hansen
Re: Promise VTrak E610f without a Fiber Switch?
on Nov 26, 2012 at 8:07:31 pm

does the E610f have 8 FC ports? I have a client with a Vtrak E (not sure the model number) and it has 2 ports on each of the 2 controllers. if you have a similar setup, then yes, you will need to get a fibre switch, along with everything else Sebastien lined out in his post. This will make things much more complicated than you have now. Even though Xsan software is free, it will still be an expensive upgrade in cards and MDCs and time invested. BTW, if you have a similar port/controller setup as i do, i'm not sure if going to 4 ports over 2 will increase the speed. I believe they're just there as fault tolerance in a multi switch system.

a few suggestions:

- creating 2x1GB trunks from the clients to the switch doesn't do anything to speed up the connection. Steve Modica can chime in on this. Basically, it's something the Mac OS can't recognize and take advantage of.

- i would suggest dumping the ProCurve and getting a multi-port Ethernet card for the Mac Pro host computer, and connecting every client directly. the configuration of the switch may be your bottleneck, or the configuration of the 2x1GB truck on the host computer side may be set up incorrectly.

e

Eric Hansen
Production Workflow Designer / Consultant / Colorist / DIT
http://www.erichansen.tv


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Sebastien Bertrand
Re: Promise VTrak E610f without a Fiber Switch?
on Nov 26, 2012 at 8:14:29 pm

You are right Eric,

The E610 only has 2 ports/controller, it's the older 4Gb model. It's the E630 and E830 that have 4 ports/controllers, so he will need a switch.

Sebastien Bertrand
Systems Integrator, Ordigraphe Inc.
Toronto, Canada
http://www.ordigraphe.com


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Bob Zelin
Re: Promise VTrak E610f without a Fiber Switch?
on Nov 26, 2012 at 8:17:50 pm

Hi -
Eric of course is correct about this, and so it Sebastien. But we all know what is going on here. I will explain.

Eric points out that you gain nothing by trunking or bonding two NIC ports to the switch from the client - that is true. I don't know the AVID ISIS 5000 trick, but other than that trick, bonding a client to a switch with LACP does nothing. For faster speed you need 10GbE to the client or Fibre.

A Fibre switch like the QLogic 1400 is not expensive. And perhaps your VTrak has the 8 ports (I never saw anything like this, but I could be wrong, and probably am).

What is going on here (Eric and Sabestien) is that "we" try to promote how simple all of this is, as long as YOU HIRE US. Doing an XSAN integration is a pain in the ass, even if everything is free - you still pay a lot to the integrator (the guy that does this for you). So I am guessing that Oystein wants to do this by himself, without hiring anyone, and is trying to use the equipment lying around his office, but can't figure out how to do it.

Well, as Sabestian, Eric, and myself will wind up saying to you - Good Luck Oystein, and when you get tired of doing this, and making all these mistakes, you will ultimately hire someone (like us) to do this for you. And after you pay that first time, you will have the knowlege of how to do this in the future. And what winds up happening, is that once you have this knowlege, you quit your job, and go somewhere else that will pay you more money (or go out on your own), because now you are an expert, and can demand more money for your services.

I know the game. I live it.

Bob Zelin



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Eric Hansen
Re: Promise VTrak E610f without a Fiber Switch?
on Nov 26, 2012 at 8:28:55 pm

Haha, great post Bob. That's almost exactly what I did after assisting in the install of an Xsan and maintaining it for a year. But then I realized the pain of proper DNS, which made me yell profanities at small children playing with puppies. This may all be fixed in the current version of Xsan, but honestly I don't want to know. I did my last Xsan in '09

Oystein, I definitely recommend keeping it simple and building on the working ethernet setup you already have. Once it's setup properly and the bottlenecks have been fixed, you should be getting full gigabit speed to all of your clients (assuming your RAID is not full or near full)

e

Eric Hansen
Production Workflow Designer / Consultant / Colorist / DIT
http://www.erichansen.tv


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Øystein Rabbe
Re: Promise VTrak E610f without a Fiber Switch?
on Nov 26, 2012 at 8:31:24 pm

Thank you guys for different input. I am sure I have only 4 connectors in my VTrak if that makes a difference?

How much do I need to spend to get a Switch that can handle this? And will I not get anything out of setting it up with only the four connectors? What will I gain if I choose to connect all my clients directly to the Mac Pro with a better ethernet card compared to buying a fibre switch?
Why is it so difficult to set up an xSAN?


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Eric Hansen
Re: Promise VTrak E610f without a Fiber Switch?
on Nov 26, 2012 at 9:18:10 pm

Xsan is a shared and actively managed filesystem and requires Metadata Controllers, not just a switch. the suggested Mac Minis and SANLinks will run about $2000-3000, plus the cost of the switch and FC cards for each computer.

if you stick with ethernet, you will "gain" simplicity. FC is great, but I think it's overkill for your use.

If this was my personal setup, even though I have Xsan experience, i would stick with ethernet.

e

Eric Hansen
Production Workflow Designer / Consultant / Colorist / DIT
http://www.erichansen.tv


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Øystein Rabbe
Re: Promise VTrak E610f without a Fiber Switch?
on Nov 26, 2012 at 9:24:00 pm

So you think settting up a Ethernet card in the Mac Pro and share it with a direct ethernet cable per user would be the best option then?


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Bob Zelin
Re: Promise VTrak E610f without a Fiber Switch?
on Nov 26, 2012 at 10:56:14 pm

Oystein,
you are a kid that thinks he knows a lot about computers. Here is what is going to happen - you have 2 choices.

You can just jump in (like Eric and I did years ago) and make lots of mistakes, pull out your hair, have fear of getting fired or killed, and (hopefully) eventually learn exactly what needs to happen to make this work. It will be painful, but is it worth it ? You tell me - it gave me a new career.

OR

You can hire someone to do this for you, who is experienced. This experienced person has suffered like we all did - and so now we know.

Some of your questions show your inexperience - like "how much does a fibre channel switch cost" - I gave you the model # of the QLogic 1400. Look it up. If this is too difficult for you to do, then it will be too difficult for you to set one of these up. They do not just plug in and work.
Same with XSAN - why is it so difficult ? You should go to google, and XSANITY, and find out about XSAN, and what is involved with setting it up. You just don't "poke around the menu's" and figure it out. Most guys go for training, or work with someone that had received training at one time. Or someone that has suffered thru lots of mistakes figuring it out.

None of this is easy. I am not trying to discourage you - I was a person (so was Eric) that jumped in saying "I can do it" and soon realized that nothing was working, but neither of us gave up, and spend a LONG TIME getting good at this stuff.

So you can be that person too, or you can hire someone. I can only assure you of one thing. It's not going to just plug in and work. And no one (especially me) is going to sit here on Creative Cow, and answer every question that you have on "how come this doesnt' work, and what do I have to do to the ProCurve switch to make it work properly".

Bob Zelin



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Øystein Rabbe
Re: Promise VTrak E610f without a Fiber Switch?
on Nov 26, 2012 at 11:33:55 pm

Bob,
If its me, or someone I hire to set it up its not really that relevant. The equipment itself is going to be the major cost, as of what my original question was- how can I do this in an affordable way.

I respect your expertise and advice and I have no intention to pretend I can do all this myself when I know I can not. But as this is a forum where thoughts and advice can be shared freely I dont see why I shouldn't come here to ask for thoughts on different kinds of solution supporting my existing infrastructure. I am not going to do something myself OR hire anyone else if I am not in understanding of what different solutions I can choose from and what the results will be, both in financial terms as well as technical terms.

So once again- thanks for advice. But I am not someone who will figure out everything on my own, and thats exactly why I come here. But also to understand the process so I am sure I make the right decision.


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Eric Hansen
Re: Promise VTrak E610f without a Fiber Switch?
on Nov 27, 2012 at 12:36:32 am

what Sebastien laid out, plus a switch, is the cheapest way to do Xsan from a hardware standpoint. it's many times more expensive than what i described using ethernet. yes, the Xsan method will make each computer connection faster, but if you're just editing and 1Gb is enough, than Xsan isn't worth the money.

but from an administrator's standpoint, let me just throw in my 2 cents. the main reason i got out of Xsan is the lack of support for an independent guy such as myself, working in the middle of nowhere. even getting Apple Xsan certification was a waste as it didn't get me any closer to getting assistance from the Apple mothership. the forums were of next to no help, because they were geared toward pros that were VERY high end. Xsanity just confuses me. and the number of people on there is much less than it used to be. back when i started, Apple even had an Xsan service plan that cost $1000 per computer per year (so for my first self-installed Xsan, that was $5000 a year). before i paid a cent of that, i called them up with an issue and even at their highest level of support that they offered, they were clueless as to how to fix the problem. that's why they EOLed the Xserve and the Xserve RAID. This is why Xsan is now included for free. Apple makes more money washing their hands of it, than they do selling it with a service plan. if you go the Xsan route, just make sure you have an excellent integrator working with you, and will be available for support when you need.

and yes, they will charge handsomely for it. you say hardware will be the most expensive, but for an Xsan installation, I would budget a few grand for an integrator's assistance on even the smallest of systems. i had plenty of offers from techs to pay their expenses to fly out to Jackson Hole to go skiing with me and fix my Xsan, but it was cheaper to go ethernet, and i can sleep better at night knowing that DNS won't knock out my ethernet SAN.

e

Eric Hansen
Production Workflow Designer / Consultant / Colorist / DIT
http://www.erichansen.tv


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Eric Hansen
Re: Promise VTrak E610f without a Fiber Switch?
on Nov 27, 2012 at 12:40:52 am

yes. that will give you the best performance bang for your buck

e

Eric Hansen
Production Workflow Designer / Consultant / Colorist / DIT
http://www.erichansen.tv


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Bob Zelin
Re: Promise VTrak E610f without a Fiber Switch?
on Nov 27, 2012 at 1:37:00 am

I just reviewed your old posts. You use FCP 7, you are switching or have switched to Premiere. You compress video.

I don't know where you got the VTrak, the ProCurve switch, and the other stuff, but you are better off with a turnkey solution, and someone that can assist you. The ProCurve will allow you to do 1GbE connection, which is probably more than enough for your 5 - 10 iMac computers that you are using. If it was my nickle, you can go with a Tiger Technology MetaLAN solution with this hardware, or you can buy a turnkey from lots of companies that I talk about on this forum, that will NOT use the hardware that you have specified in your original post. But it's not my money, and I don't know what your budget is to work with.

You have seen the list many times, if you have read this forum. There is a handful of companies that know how to do this. The list is not complete, but it's a great starting point. With the exception of Tiger Technology, none of these companies will allow you to use the hardware that you curently own -
they are, in no particular order -
Facilis
EditShare
AVID ISIS 5000
Small Tree
Maxx Digital Final Share
Studio Network Solutions SANmp
Apace Systems
Cal Digit Super Share (and Accusys Exasan)
Command Soft Fibre Jet with Rorke Data hardware
Archion (a brand I usually don't list, but works very well)
and of course, Tiger Technology MetaSAN
(and XSAN)
and there are others, but this is a good starting point.

Most of the dealers have their preferences, and depending on where you live, and who your dealer is, you may choose based on the support that you can get, based on your location.

If you want to persue your hardware, look into that QLogic 1400 switch (their low end model) and see how far you can get, before spending any more money on anything.

Bob Zelin



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John Veron
Re: Promise VTrak E610f without a Fiber Switch?
on Nov 28, 2012 at 6:01:13 am

Hi,

I think XSAN and StorNext based systems are out-dated in a compressed video environment.
XSAN architecture is too expensive and not supported (you can not call support), that's why its free with the OS.
FibreChannel is a waste of money in a compressed world IMO and I still can't believe that Apple actually suggest to replace a server with a MacMini.....

If you just want to play around and see what you can get out of the system, then try SANmp or FibreJet.
Disadvantage: It's volume level locking.
Advantage: At least with SANmp you can get a free trial.

Advise: You will need iSCSI (maybe from Studio Netowkr Solutions) to talk on a "block-level" over ethernet to the storage.

I suggest you go to Vimeo or Youtube, I bet someone has posted a video explaining this.

Cheers.


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Gary Holladay
Re: Promise VTrak E610f without a Fiber Switch?
on Nov 29, 2012 at 11:00:29 pm

Øystein,
This isn't as difficult as it may seem. You can download/demo all of the software you need to try to bake this for yourself here: http://www.studionetworksolutions.com/products/product_detail.php?pi=15 but please check out this video to see if you want to tackle this on your own!







I'm the CEO/CTO for SNS - and designed this software, so I can say with complete confidence that it will provide you with a solid option. We created the globalSAN Xtarget iSCSI target software ($899) for this purpose exactly. Many of our customers have old Promise arrays and even some old Xserve RAIDs that they'd like to repurpose for compressed workflows using their existing GbE network.

With Xtarget, you can download the 14-day demo and try this for yourself. It's pretty straight forward - in that you connect your array via FC to a Mac, then use Xtarget to share the LUNs created on the array via Xtarget. At that point, that Mac is now an iSCSI server that is ready to share your Vtrak over the gigabit network. Your next decision is to determine what kind of traffic cop software you want to use. Xsan is compatible with Xtarget so if you want multiple writers to a single LUN, that's the best option, but if block-level (one writer/many readers) is ok for your workflow, we sell iSANmp for $199 per seat. I hope this helps - but if you get stuck - SNS has a phone install support for globalSAN Xtarget as well.

Thanks,
Gary


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Gary Holladay
Re: Promise VTrak E610f without a Fiber Switch?
on Nov 29, 2012 at 11:55:37 pm

Sorry - seems the youtube link was truncated: If you look up: globalSAN Xtarget Storage Server for OS X - you can view the tutorial.

Best,
Gary


.youtube.com/watch?v=zZEIJ913X-A&list=U

-
Gary Holladay | CEO/CTO

Studio Network Solutions (SNS) | 1988a Innerbelt Business Center Dr | St. Louis, MO 63114 | Mobile:314.497.8935 |
http://www.studionetworksolutions.com


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Simon Lytting
Re: Promise VTrak E610f on a Fiber Switch?
on Nov 29, 2012 at 10:33:27 am

I'm just going to jump in with my own question, because it seems there are a couple of Promise Raid gurus in this thread. Hope that's alright.

I have a Promise e610f, 2 channel fibre raid. It's only hooked up to one PC runnning DaVinci Resolve. We only took over this Raid one week ago, from a bankrupt company, so I'm completely new to this.

Does anyone know the best way to setup the Promise to video handling?
Right now I've set it up kind of default I guess with the following settings:

RAID0 (I was hoping in the end to set it up for Raid5 or 6 but right now I'm just looking for MAX performance)
Stripe size: 64kb
Sector size: 512Bytes
Write Policy: Write-Thru
Read Policy: ReadAhead

I'm getting kind of ok results I guess with 320MB/s write and 365MB/s Read on the DaVinci disk speed test. But even though it's ok, I was wondering if there are any settings I could change that would make it even better?

The PC it's running on is a Dell Precision R5500, Win7 Pro, 2 x Intel Xeon CPU X5650 2.66Ghz, 128Mb DDR3 1600MHz Ram, GUI is running on NVidia Quadro 2000.
I have a Qubix GPU Extension box running 2 x NVdia Quadro 4000, 1 x Nvidia GeForce GTX 570 and NVidia GeForce GTX 670

Hoping for som great pointers! :-)


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Simon Lytting
Re: Promise VTrak E610f on a Fiber Switch?
on Nov 29, 2012 at 10:49:47 am

I forgot to mention the system will probably mostly run DPX 10bit sequences and Arri Alexa Prores444 QTs


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Sebastien Bertrand
Re: Promise VTrak E610f on a Fiber Switch?
on Nov 29, 2012 at 2:39:30 pm

Hello Simon,

Depending on various factors in your configuration, you should be able to achieve better performances than that, while keeping a raid 5 or 6 protection. This however goes way beyond what is possible to do on a forum like this. You can hit me off-list if you are interested in professional services to tweak your storage.

sebastien at ordigraphe.com

Sebastien Bertrand
Systems Integrator, Ordigraphe Inc.
Toronto, Canada
http://www.ordigraphe.com


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John Veron
Re: Promise VTrak E610f on a Fiber Switch?
on Nov 29, 2012 at 9:49:02 pm

Hi,

I don't know how to configure a Promise Vtrak but I can tell you that RAID0 is very very bad.
Try RAID5 at least, it will still be ok performance-wise.
In RAID0 you loose one disk and everything is GONE.

Write-Thru is usually not very good.
Please try to enable Write-Back. This means that the data is cached by the controller and then written to disks.
The controller essentially says "I got the data, continue to give me more". With Write-Thru it will write the data to the disks first before doing anything else.
this option can be switched on/off during operation and for testing the best performance.

Cheers


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Simon Lytting
Re: Promise VTrak E610f on a Fiber Switch?
on Nov 30, 2012 at 8:58:39 am

Hi John,

I agree RAID0 is to risky. I've set it up now for RAID10 to get both speed and security.

I've also set the write method to WriteBack and actually got a slight write speed increase. So thanks for that. I'm thinking maybe I will get a couple of solid state drives to put in the machine for cache only. Do you think that could get the speed up? Or is it not that cache the Raid uses when WriteBack is activated?


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Simon Lytting
Re: Promise VTrak E610f on a Fiber Switch?
on Nov 30, 2012 at 8:54:19 am

Hi Sebastian,

Hmmm...that sounds like it costs money!? Which in the ears of the company I work for, is terrible music! :-) But anyway what is cost of consulting hours? And would it be possible to do by phone and teamviewer? I can see your company is based in Canada, and we are in Denmark.


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Sebastien Bertrand
Re: Promise VTrak E610f on a Fiber Switch?
on Nov 30, 2012 at 12:14:06 pm

Simon,

Please send me an email privately at sebastien at ordigraphe.com

Sebastien Bertrand
Systems Integrator, Ordigraphe Inc.
Toronto, Canada
http://www.ordigraphe.com


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