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too many options!

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Craig Wolf
too many options!
on Nov 30, 2012 at 7:36:53 pm

Hi. I first want to apologize for this post, as it might get a bit wonky.

Current situation: client has 4 xServe RAIDs (total storage 27GB) and 3 xServes (late 2006)....two metadata controllers and one is working as an AFP bridge. They are currently on Lion, and are not able to upgrade to Mountain Lion (which I think is a big mistake from Apple).

Needs....more storage, and possibly faster access, and the ability to work on the same files at the same time. They currently have 5 edit stations connected with fibre, and project managers hook up via ethernet to add docs and such.

Options (here is where it gets wonky)

1. Least expensive. Replace all metadata controllers with two minis in two xMacMiniServer enclosures from SonnetTech. Purchase additional RAID enclosure from either ActiveStorage (ActiveRAID) or Promise (or other).

2. All Active Storage, all the time. Purchase two ActiveSANs, and an ActiveRAID. This would replace the two metadata controllers, and allow them to still use xSAN and put new content in StrorNEXT.

3. Diversify. Purchase two inexpensive servers from Dell, HP, etc. Purchase and load StorNEXT on them. Purchase strage arrays (probably iSCSI) and run new CAT6 lines to each edit station, and use 10GB HBAs. Purchase new 10GB switch for iSCSI network.

4. The unknown: Other option? They must be able to work on the same files at the same time.

Sorry again for such a wide array of options. Also please put this in the right forum if this is considered the wrong one.

Thank you.


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Eric Hansen
Re: too many options!
on Nov 30, 2012 at 8:29:13 pm

hey Craig

Option 1 doesn't add anything. I assume that the Xserves are running fine. Switching to Mac Minis is not advised as you're just replacing an old Accord with a new Camry.

I assume there's a fibre switch in here somewhere

with 2 and 3, are you scrapping all of your existing Xserve hardware? i've never used the Active or StorNEXT products, so someone else will have better advice than me.

4. if you're talking about editing, then you need AVID on an ISIS. no other NLEs allow project sharing. if you're talking about just media and not project files, any shared system will allow you to do that.

btw, Xserve RAIDs are slow. i believe 100-150MB/channel? someone will have to correct me on that. if speed is your need, then all new storage and switches will be required. and new HBAs on the client side.

e

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


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Craig Wolf
Re: too many options!
on Nov 30, 2012 at 9:04:07 pm

Thanks for your reply.

Sorry, I'll clear up some issues.
Current system has a qlogic fibre switch which all edit stations (5), metadata controllers (2) and afp bridge (1) is connected. Also currently has a separate metadata ethernet network.

Option 1 just gives us the same, except we can upgrade to Mountain Lion. We currently have one ML edit station connected, but it was a pain to get it to work with our Lion XSAN. They will be upgrading more edit stations and don't want that hassle.

2/3: just got off the phone with ActiveStorage, and the metadata controller is really a good replacement for our xserves, but at quite a high cost. Benefit is we can still use current xserve raids, but also purchase faster and larger raid arrays for future growth.

4. Definitely do not want AVID. Currently they use Final Cut Pro/Motion, Episode, and will be going to Premier/After Effects. And yes, xServe RAIDs are very slow compared to the new technology you can purchase. This was purchased around 2006, and has served them well, but definitely needs to be upgraded.

Thanks again.


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Bob Zelin
Re: too many options!
on Dec 1, 2012 at 12:49:48 am

#1 and #2 are your options. Throw out those XServes. You can cheap out (your only real option for new) with the MacMini's - OR - you can certainly buy two Mac Pro computers, and use them as servers. That will
work perfectly. They fit side by side on a Middle Atlantic Rack shelf and take up 12 RU.

#2 - go Active Storage - the ActiveSAN is damn expensive, but it works. The two Mac Pro's will do the same job, and be cheaper.

#3 - Eric is always right these days (damn him !).

Bob Zelin



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Bob Zelin
Re: too many options!
on Dec 1, 2012 at 12:51:57 am

oh, and just stop it with the Dell server nonsense for a Mac facility.
And if you do want to switch, there are lots of options for you. But if you want XSAN, then you have your answer. Of course, Facilis makes the best fibre solution, and they might (might !) allow you to reuse your QLogic switch, if it's not too old. Then you will still be fibre, and can retire the whole XSAN.

Bob Zelin



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Alex Gerulaitis
Re: too many options!
on Dec 1, 2012 at 1:20:47 am

[Bob Zelin] "oh, and just stop it with the Dell server nonsense for a Mac facility. "

Bob, will anyone in a Mac facility know or care there is an iSCSI target set up on a Dell server? Just curious.


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Eric Hansen
Re: too many options!
on Dec 1, 2012 at 1:28:54 am

another option, which is what i'm about to do with an Xsan client, is merge this system with an ethernet system. you already have your 3rd Xserve running as an AFP share. put in a 6port 1Gb card, or a 10Gb card with a new switch, and share that along side a new ethernet based system. i believe both slots on the Xserve are 16x. can someone correct me if i'm wrong? then the OS X version you're running on the Xsan is no longer an issue, since all the clients are AFP. then put your money into the new system. this is what i would do. if you want to stick with fibre, go with Active storage. you won't be disappointed.

e

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


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Bob Zelin
Re: too many options!
on Dec 1, 2012 at 4:49:23 pm

for a fibre solution, even for "ethernet clients" there are many options today of Thunderbolt to Ethernet adaptors, or thunderbolt to 10GbE adaptors (from ATTO, Small Tree, etc.). And of course, Thunderbolt to Fibre as well. So there are lots of ways to stick with Fibre.

And you don't "have" to switch to Mountain Lion on the server, but those XServes are reaching end of life, so you might want to consider doing something else.

And yes Eric, both slots are x16 in the XServes (as I recall).

And yes Alex, you could setup an iSCSI enviornment on a Dell server with the wonderful Force10 S25 switch (now owned by Dell, and is used exclusively by AVID for ISIS 5000) - but why would you do that - why go thru all that aggrivation of building a "non standard" system. You can stick with Fibre (Active, Facilis, existing XSAN), you can go with an ethernet solution from the usual providers, and if you are so desperate to go iSCSI, why not switch to Studio Network Solutions with iSCSI, that is a proven solution.
Why on earth would anyone want to "re-invent the wheel" when working solutions already exist on the market. It's not like you can build a DELL iSCSI solution with an S25 switch for very little money.
That's my reasoning for making this statement about the Dell alternative.

Bob Zelin



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Alex Gerulaitis
Re: too many options!
on Dec 2, 2012 at 1:33:37 am

[Bob Zelin] "Why on earth would anyone want to "re-invent the wheel" when working solutions already exist on the market."

It's not what I asked. The question was, does ANYONE care what's behind an iSCSI target as long as it's fast enough, doesn't break and is managed easily? Would you buy a new Mac Pro to set up an iSCSI target? I hope not. :)

And, please, you don't need an expensive switch for an iSCSI network with 5 GbE nodes. Non-blocking, flow control, and Bob's your uncle. :p

Alex Gerulaitis
Systems Engineer
DV411 - Los Angeles, CA


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Craig Wolf
Re: too many options!
on Dec 3, 2012 at 5:22:16 pm

wow, thanks everyone for the detailed responses. After we look at options, we thought we had a great solution. We were going to take two current edit stations (Mac Pros), make those the metadata controllers, and buy new Mac Pros for the edit station. But of course, in Apple's infinite wisdom, Late 2007 Mac Pros can not go Mountain Lion.

The price difference isn't much from going with a mini and sonnet xMac enclosure, so now the choices are:

1. Buy two Mac Pros for new metacontrollers, stick with xsan, and buy two additional ActiveRAID storage arrays (and if not Active, then who else is recommended for Fibre XSAN storage arrays?)

2. I'm still intrigued in how much I could put a Dell server with StorNEXT together for. From what I understand (and I may be way wrong), StorNEXT and XSAN are nearly identical.

They really want to be able to still use the XSAN, and I agree, but I am really skeptical on how long Apple will keep XSAN alive.

And once again thank you all for your help.


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David Budnetz
Re: too many options!
on Dec 3, 2012 at 10:41:43 pm

[Craig Wolf] "3. Diversify. Purchase two inexpensive servers from Dell, HP, etc. Purchase and load StorNEXT on them. Purchase strage arrays (probably iSCSI) and run new CAT6 lines to each edit station, and use 10GB HBAs. Purchase new 10GB switch for iSCSI network."

regarding using CAT6 for 10GbE, you will only be able to achieve limited distance (the spec calls for 55m in a pristine environment, 37m in a hostile environment)without extreme packet loss. STP/FTP CAT6 cable is still vulnerable to physical compression or electrical interference in a cable tray or plenum environment.

If you have existing Multi-Mode fiber, you can easily employ it for 10Gb Optical ethernet. From wikipedia: "OM3 cable can carry 10GbE 300 metres using low cost 10GBASE-SR optics (OM4 can manage 400 metres.)" Both intel and small tree have optical 10GbE PCIe NICs, and all major switch vendors sell 10GbE switches with optical SFPs.


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Craig Wolf
Re: too many options!
on Dec 4, 2012 at 4:38:54 pm

Good thinking. Didn't know about that!


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John Veron
Re: too many options!
on Dec 7, 2012 at 5:48:46 am

Don't go for XSAN. Forget about it.
Apple is doing consumer products nowadays. Do you really want to invest money into an Apple driven central storage solution that is supposed to work for few more years? Especially when your revenue depends on it?

My advice: Get an Ethernet based solution from one of the many vendors here.

I know so many people who invested in a complete FCP editing environment, including FCP server.
All this is pretty much useless now. Our industry moves so quickly and any missed update sets you behind your competition.

I know others who got an expensive XSAN and are now looking for ways to replace their not-so-old gear with supported products that are actually being developed.

What I want to say: Think about alternatives! MacMini as a production SERVER? OMG....


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