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Jason Silzle
SAN - Small Studio
on Mar 27, 2013 at 4:36:46 am

Hi guys,

I have been reading through here and I think I know what I need to do but before I go buying gear i wanted to confirm with some of you.

MY NEEDS:

I'm a small production studio (One man band) who has started hiring other editors to help with the work load and until now they have all worked off site. Well now I am thinking about bringing on a guy full time and this means another computer and shared storage. At this point my storage scenario (right or wrong) is the following... 4 internal 7200 2TB Drives in Raid "0" backed up to external 3TB Sata drives (bare drives) every once in a while!! Then I archive to off the shelf DW USB3 drives once a job is done. we also may bring on a 3rd person (Photographer) so we will have RAW images files stored in shared space as well (Lightroom4 catalogs). We have both PC and Macs (FCP7 and Edius 6.3)All total we might have 4 systems that at this point need shared storage but it would be great if the laptops could connect as needed (not essential).

Here is what I'm thinking about doing...

Take one of my older boxes, probably a 4 gighertz quad-core extreme Intel that is a before the "i". I would stuff it full of 3 TB drives, maybe 4 of them in Raid "5" off a Promise technologies Raid Card or I could use the on board "high-point" raid controller but I think the Promise might be better. This will be my server.

I would then put in a 4port 1gige card and wire that directly to my edit stations from the 4 ports. i have existing 50' runs of Cat5 and some Cat5e so i think i'm good there. The macs would get internet fromt he wifi and the PC clients have dual nic cards so one pointed to the internet router and one direct to SAN.

-Would this work?
-Do I need additional management software? I would run Windows 7 64b professional as the server or I might have an un-opened Windows Server 2008?
-Do I need crossover cables or will my existing Cat5 cables work going peer to peer?
-What surprises might I find or what other suggestions do you have?

My editing is primarily under 2K anything like 4K I would pull to my main editing station and use internal raid. Typically I'm working with 2 or 3 streams of anything from DnxHD, ProResHQ, Grassvalley HQX or AVCHD (from DSLRs or C100).

What I'm actually thinking is even dumping footage to my main edit server and then pushing out the projects that need to be shared onto the SAN because I just don't know if editing off the remote SAN will be as snappy as what I get with my internal RAID "0"

Thank you for your input...

Thank you,

Jason Silzle
http://www.dovedigitalmedia.com
Owner/Founder
Dove Digital Media


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David Roth Weiss
Re: SAN - Small Studio
on Mar 27, 2013 at 2:44:45 pm

Hi Jason,

Trying to cobble together a makeshift SAN will undoubtedly consume your waking life. Any editing efficiencies you're hoping to achieve with a working shared storage system will quickly become secondary to you, and instead you will become a full-time IT guy with no time for editing. At ProMAX we see this all the time, with even dedicated IT pros failing constantly.

At ProMAX we have exactly what you need - it's a revolutionary new shared storage system for small workgroups of 2 to 4 users that offers the lowest cost, highest performing shared storage solution for small workgroups on the market. It's the baby brother to our powerful Platform Modular Server you can see on our site at http://www.promax.com/s-197-promax-platform.aspx.

Contact me offline at the email address below for more information and I'll be happy to tell you all about it.

David Roth Weiss
ProMax Systems
Burbank
DRW@ProMax.com

Sales | Integration | Support

David is a Creative COW contributing editor and a forum host of the Apple Final Cut Pro forum.


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Bob Zelin
Re: SAN - Small Studio
on Mar 27, 2013 at 3:37:28 pm

Hi Jason -
I am going to make an assumption that you have possibly glanced at this forum in the past, before making your post.

As David has just mentioned, why on earth are you trying to piece this together when countless shared storage systems already exist on the market, that will work perfectly for you, and do exactly what you want.

I get the impression that you want to take your old Windows 7 computer, shove some drive in it with a 4 port ethernet card, plug it into your Mac workstations and expect that you will instantly have a working shared storage enviorment to be able to do DNxHD and ProRes422HQ. If it were that easy, David, myself, and every one of the professional vendors that manufacture shared storage enviornments would not be in business.

I can only assume that you want to do this because you do not want to spend the money for a pre-manufacturered shared storage product, which already works. Perhaps you are saying "I don't need to give them all that money, I can do this myself !".

Do you really think it's just going to plug in and work ?

Bob Zelin



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David Roth Weiss
Re: SAN - Small Studio
on Mar 27, 2013 at 4:33:57 pm

Bob and I never used to agree on much of anything, now we agree on almost everything. It just goes to show, if you hang around this planet long enough, miracles can and do happen.

David Roth Weiss
ProMax Systems
Burbank
DRW@ProMax.com

Sales | Integration | Support

David is a Creative COW contributing editor and a forum host of the Apple Final Cut Pro forum.


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Neil Sadwelkar
Re: SAN - Small Studio
on Apr 21, 2013 at 5:23:34 am

I just noticed that the person who started this thread has the same name, Jason Silzle, as one of the hosts of this SAN forum. Is that a coincidence or are they one.

-----------------------------------
Neil Sadwelkar
neilsadwelkar.blogspot.com
twitter: fcpguru
FCP Editor, Edit systems consultant
Mumbai India


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Alex Gerulaitis
Re: SAN - Small Studio
on Mar 27, 2013 at 5:36:47 pm

[Jason Silzle] "-Do I need additional management software? I would run Windows 7 64b professional as the server or I might have an un-opened Windows Server 2008?"

For a DIY video NAS, what you need is a software platform that is capable of handling TCP/IP sessions with low latencies and low overhead, adequate for video editing in general and your video editing app specifically. No such COTS parts exist, except from vendors specializing in video editing and shared storage - like ProMax, Small Tree, Facilis, GB Labs.

For a DIY NAS, there're various Linux distributions that may work, and will likely take a good effort to get it to work for your scenarios. FreeNAS is one such distribution.

That's the main reason video NAS is still a good business for integrators (can't buy it from Amazon), and why David's and Bob's recommendations are perfectly valid. Unless you're willing to spend considerable time making things work - and then maybe you'll be in a position to become the next ProMax or Small Tree. :)

Of course you could always get a beefy $15K server, 10GbE cards on all ends, and 10GbE non-blocking switch, and things may just fly. Or, you could get a less expensive and a better supported solutions from one of the vendors listed above. :)

Alex Gerulaitis
Systems Engineer
DV411 - Los Angeles, CA


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Jason Silzle
Re: SAN - Small Studio
on Mar 27, 2013 at 7:59:54 pm

Thank you Alex for the pointers towards FreeNas and just help in general.

Everyone else... Well.. Guys I appreciate the honesty about how hard this is going to be but at the same time it feels a little like your just using the COW as a place to hand pick customers. instead of offering advice of how it could be done (the very idea behind open FORUMS!!) your drive traffic back to your products. Well i don't want to spend my time as an IT guy and I even need to spend less time editing and more time managing my business so I would be happy to by some of your products if the markup wasn't so obscene. Really $10-15K for parts that on the open market cost less than $3-4K? I get that your time is worth something like mine. I also get that not everyone in the world is going to buy your products so the markup needs to be high but don't bust my chops because I want to try to save a buck. Just offer some advice, share, point me in the right direction. I simply don't have those kind of resources at this point in the game.

I guess I would have expected some of your responses if I was on your private companies forums but I just expected the Cow to be a community of people here to help others DIY.

If anybody else has any advise as to how TO do this I would love to hear it.

Thank you,

Thank you,

Jason Silzle
http://www.dovedigitalmedia.com
Owner/Founder
Dove Digital Media


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John Davidson
Re: SAN - Small Studio
on Mar 27, 2013 at 8:36:16 pm

Bob and David give quite a bit of their time helping people for free, including me. The resources are all here if you want to build your own NAS, but in a mixed pc/mac environment you're going to encounter problems on top of the usual problems found in a pc only or mac only environment. That's where their markup comes in. There has to be some profit over cost of materials if you expect people to happily answer all your questions (and there will be a lot of them), otherwise how will they pay their own bills?

There are a hundred different ways to do what you want to do. Inevitably if your business is growing you'll need to bite the bullet on something. For two users an 8 drive enclosure (or 16 even) would be preferred - there are many vendors that sell those. The drives for this should be Hitachi ultrastars or other enterprise/server class drives. I used to get by with Deskstars, but now I realize that Ultrastars are worth the added expense. You want at minimum RAID5 for protection of your material. Shoving drives in a chassis will be catastrophic if one dies in RAID 0. You want the Small Tree PEG6 (that's what I call it, it's actually PE2G or something like that) so that ethernet is regulated accurately to all the receiving systems. You want a good computer to run the server, it cannot run off a computer you are editing with. The computer will need good RAM in it, at least 4 Gigs per user (although I'm starting to think 8 is even better). You will need a RAID card, either the Areca 1882x or the ATTO R680. Some of these solutions offered by the different vendors do not need a server computer, which is possibly why their prices are more expensive than you expect. Also personally, I use NAS instead of SAN.

Long story short, congratulations on your business growth. Enhancing your shared storage is an evolutionary process for a growing video business. As you needs grow though, the costs will grow as well. I will tell you this as the exact same thing happened to me 2 years ago. Get the bigger storage now and do it right the first time. I screwed around for 2 years before I learned this lesson. I don't sell storage and am not recommending a specific company so perhaps my advice will be well taken.

Good luck!

John Davidson | President / Creative Director | Magic Feather Inc.


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marcus lyall
Re: SAN - Small Studio
on Mar 27, 2013 at 9:26:46 pm

Hi Jason,

Have a look at some of my previous posts from a few years back on this forum.
I did the same kinda DIY thing as you are talking about.
I did get it working. It didn't cost £15k to set up.
It still works now. Does exactly what you need.
Built with off-the-shelf gear.

I also had a FreeNas 20gb system built for me by an IT buddy.
8 ethernet ports. 80mb per second to each port. Works like a charm. That was also cheaper than the turnkey system. But it's now our backup system.

We still ended up buying a turnkey solution for £27k.
Why? Because I like being able to point the finger at someone else when the storage goes down in the middle of a project.

Turnkey thing was overpriced, is now out-of-date and has had problems. But I still don't regret buying it.
Wait till your primary storage goes down in the middle of a big project, when you built it yourself. I have been there. It's not nice.
Seriously. If your storage stops working, then your business is screwed.

Buy an overpriced turnkey system from a nearby reseller.
Get a rock-solid backup strategy. Tape storage for safety. Cheap disk backup so you can keep working.



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Bob Zelin
Re: SAN - Small Studio
on Mar 27, 2013 at 9:52:35 pm

Marcus writes -
"Seriously. If your storage stops working, then your business is screwed.

Buy an overpriced turnkey system from a nearby reseller.
Get a rock-solid backup strategy. Tape storage for safety. Cheap disk backup so you can keep working."

REPLY -
this is FANTASTIC advice. When I built our first shared storage system in 2008, it was done for ONE client, and after I built it (and wrote an article about it for Cow in 2008), it stopped working in 2 weeks, and I looked real bad in front of my client. And so I continued to research why it did not work. And kept at it. And every time I got something working, there would be another variable, and I would have to figure that out. And because I was putting so much time into this, I wound up selling it other clients - and guess what, they had DIFFERENT problems, and I had to figure it out, and it was hard, and took a lot of time.

These days, when you deal with assorted products from Highpoint, Promise, ATTO, Areca, etc. there are ALWAYS new problems, especially when Apple makes changes to the operating system. And when you do this for a living (like I do) - you have to SIT THERE AND SUFFER to figure out why things dont' work, or you will get a bad name, and people won't hire you anymore. Is this what you want to do ? I though you were an editor/graphics person that was MAKING MONEY by doing editing and graphics. Do you have the time to get involved in a project like this ?

I certainly did, and so did many of the other people (like Andy from EditShare who was an AVID editor, and Gary from Studio Network Solutions who worked for a recording studio) and we turned this "project" into our CAREERS because if you are doing shared storage enviornments, there is no more time to edit, or do graphics.

When you buy a Mac, or Adobe CS6, or an AJA card, you spend your money, and you expect it to WORK, so that you can WORK, and make a living, and provide your client with their end product. That's all that matters. And when you try to build it yourself (anything, including making cables, or furniture for your edit console) this takes away time from how you MAKE A LIVING, and promote your career as an editor or graphics artist.

There are lots of budget solutions out there - spend your time finding one that works. I can only assume that you want to have shared storage to increase your productivity, and to increase your sales revenue, not because it's gonna be "cool" that you put this computer thing together yourself, and look how cool this is.

Bob Zelin



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Jason Silzle
Re: SAN - Small Studio
on Mar 27, 2013 at 11:14:12 pm

Thank you for the time Bob. I get it, I am just struggling with "How hard can it really be". I spent many years as a IT network admin and used to build editing workstations for people so i feel like I have enough understanding to be dangerous.

Example: just last night to try this out I setup My macbook pro running Jumbo frames and a windows 7 64Bit running jumbo frames. The MBP bombs out on Jumbo frames with the router so I set it back to auto Then I attached (to the MBP) a small Mini G-raid (FW800) and I shared that out to the windows box and I was able to play the one stream of HQX (Grass valleys edit format - similar in size to DNXHD) and it worked fine without dropped frames at about 20% network utilization with peeks up to 60% over 1GigE. This was via a cheep off the shelf Netgear R6300 home internet Router. So I kind of figure how much better could it work if it the MBP was running JUMBO frames and if this was a peer to peer connection using my windows boxes second 1Gige nic port?

Oh can someone please tell me do i need a crossover cable these days to do that? or are the nics smart enought now to work peer to peer?

Thank you,

Jason Silzle
http://www.dovedigitalmedia.com
Owner/Founder
Dove Digital Media


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Jason Silzle
Re: SAN - Small Studio
on Mar 27, 2013 at 11:01:40 pm

Thank you very much... Advice well taken :)

I apologize to all if I seemed to rough in my reply above, I was taken back at the responses and the hit me as less about helping and more like a cautionary tale of "Don't do it" that felt like there was an underlying, "Just buy my product instead".

Again I didn't mean to offend.

Thank you,

Jason Silzle
http://www.dovedigitalmedia.com
Owner/Founder
Dove Digital Media


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David Roth Weiss
Re: SAN - Small Studio
on Mar 27, 2013 at 10:11:07 pm

[Jason Silzle] "Really $10-15K for parts that on the open market cost less than $3-4K?"

Jason,

For the record, with our newest scaled-down version of ProMAX Platform, just days after ordering, you could have 2 to 4 editors collaborating in a shared storage environment. It would be installed by us, with training, and it includes one year of ProMAX Preferred Support, this is all at pricing lower than anything else on the market.

And, you'd be just one phone call away if an issue should arise.

I hope this helps...


David Roth Weiss
ProMax Systems
Burbank
DRW@ProMax.com

Sales | Integration | Support

David is a Creative COW contributing editor and a forum host of the Apple Final Cut Pro forum.


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Jason Silzle
Re: SAN - Small Studio
on Mar 27, 2013 at 11:18:51 pm

Thank you David it does help. In fact I have been speaking with Adam over in your Santa Ana office. I sure wish you guys hadn't moved off Technology drive (that was about 3 minutes from my place).

He told me about a something that might work well ;) but I fear it is still just out of my league at the moment. I'll be doing good to bring on the employee :(

What a blessing too have to much work to get done by myself. Now, if the revenue would just be too much!

Thank you,

Jason Silzle
http://www.dovedigitalmedia.com
Owner/Founder
Dove Digital Media


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Eric Hansen
Re: SAN - Small Studio
on Apr 14, 2013 at 7:34:49 pm

hey Jason

looks like i missed this thread.

you got it to work in your own experiment with your laptop. that's pretty much the config, minus a few tweaks. that's how i got into this business. but there's 4 issues:

1. Scalability - the method you're using can't scale
2. Latency - your setup will have EXTREME latency on the storage side. speeds aren't the concern here. it's low latency for multiple IOs
3. Support - if you built it and get it to work, who do you call when it goes down? For Mac-based stuff, you can get a little help on this forum. But for anything on the Windows side, you're on your own.
4. R&D - these companies are constantly putting money into R&D to improve their current and future products. These are the little tweaks I'm talking about, hardware and software. You don't have that kind of time.

i used to build these DIY systems for clients, and now I don't anymore. Instead leaning on the companies listed here.

e

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


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Caspian Brand
Re: SAN - Small Studio
on Apr 17, 2013 at 1:09:40 am

Hi Jason,

If you want to repurpose that Windows computer with an Internal RAID, I'd recommend getting a RAID card that has an External port as well, this way you can add an external JBOD enclosure with more disks in a RAID. You'll find 4 drives to be ok for some work with two drives, but 6-8 drives would be better and handle far more users.

You'll also need management software if you want to be able to edit reliably. We provide our SANmp software for managing access to shared storage over iSCSI. You could use an iSCSI Target for your RAID drives from the Windows Server and format them as NTFS and HFS+ volumes managed by SANmp for sharing the higher performance video files.

An extra Ethernet card in the server would also be good, but I would minimally recommend Cat5e or greater for reliable Gigabit speeds. Using iSCSI and Gigabit Ethernet, with appropriately configured storage you can expect at least two streams of ProRes and DNxHD reliably.

You can check out and download trials of our software here:

http://www.studionetworksolutions.com/sanmp/

Best Regards,
-Caspian

Product Specialist
Studio Network Solutions


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Neil Sadwelkar
Re: SAN - Small Studio
on Apr 20, 2013 at 3:57:22 am

In your first post you outlined your workflow. While it would be great to have one central storage from which your entire team works out of, it will be more expensive than the sum of individual attached storage boxes are.

I'm wondering, in your workflow where there seems to be the occasional sharing of data, do you really need everything central? Agreed, with individual storage, there will be duplication of media, but with storage costing what it does, who cares.
I've seen central storage boxes, well configured, also have huge masses of duplicate files if there's no basic working discipline. And editors aren't known to be the most disciplined of our species.

I think, for starters you need to make a good fast GigE network between your systems, then, give each system some good, RAID storage for critical files, fast SSD storage as 'scratch space' to store current files, and as a render drive. And, for project files, music, photos, build your DIY NAS who's failure won't bring your business to a halt.

-----------------------------------
Neil Sadwelkar
neilsadwelkar.blogspot.com
twitter: fcpguru
FCP Editor, Edit systems consultant
Mumbai India


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David Roth Weiss
Re: SAN - Small Studio
on May 6, 2013 at 8:32:20 pm

[Neil Sadwelkar] "In your first post you outlined your workflow. While it would be great to have one central storage from which your entire team works out of, it will be more expensive than the sum of individual attached storage boxes are."

Neil,

Actually, while that premise was true for many, many years, it is no longer true. the fact is, our ProMAX Platform and Platform Studio shared storage systems can easily beat the price of attached storage on all machines for a workgroup.

And, there are many benefits to having all media stored inon a single server other than the collaborative workflows editors typcially think of. There's less hardware to buy, no unnecessary duplication or moving of media assests, and so tracking of assets, backups, and archival are thus much more efficient and thus less costly.

I hope this helps...

David

David Roth Weiss
ProMax Systems
Burbank
DRW@ProMax.com

Sales | Integration | Support

David is a Creative COW contributing editor and a forum host of the Apple Final Cut Pro forum.


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Jason Silzle
Re: SAN - Small Studio
on Apr 25, 2013 at 5:23:56 am

OK so here is the deal I went to NAB for the sole purpose of learning more about NAS and SAN environments and after doing all that and with my IT background all I can say is.... I GIVE!

I have been won over by the guys at Promax! Ultimatly it all boils down to what do you want to do. Spend time monitoring your network or making money editing and producing products. While this is a huge expense for me I must say Adam of at Promax was incredibly helpful at tailoring something that will work well for us and gives us room to expand. I am also excited at the idea to have support and a team of knowledgeable people in the same county that can help should we need it.

We are only in the pre-sales/sold stage, in other words I don't have the box here in the studio yet so I'll have to update you all soon to how it is performing but I must say Promax is making every effort to deliver the box this Friday (earlier than they originally planned)and that is pretty impressive.

Thank you all for the great input and I look forward to letting you all know how it works!

here is the product we ordered "PLATFORM STUDIO"

Thank you,

Jason Silzle
http://www.dovedigitalmedia.com
Owner/Founder
Dove Digital Media


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Jason Silzle
Re: SAN - Small Studio
on May 17, 2013 at 10:44:11 pm

So now I will probably sound like a crazy guy with multiple personality disorder because my last post talked about going with ProMax and yet here we are doing something different.

Here is what I want to say right up front. i'm not paid by any of these guys I am simply looking for the best solution for my small business and our workflow.

PROMAX: These guys were awesome and really worked with me to come up with something we thought would work, in the end it simply wasn't the right solution for us. We have some tools that really need "BLOCK LEVEL" access and a true SAN environment and the "Platform Studio" wasn't able to provide that. I will say it was a very nice box with a good Xeon setup with fast components and over a 1gigE I got about 80MB/s consistently (peak of 95) but we really hoped to be able to pull 3 streams of ProResHQ and this wouldn't do it. Some of our other programs wouldn't work at all because they saw this as a network resource (LR4) in in Edius we saw some dropped frames and PCI Buss loading problems. I must say the guys at Promax stood behind their product and really appeared to cared about us as a client. They were very friendly about allowing us to change directions and didn't hit us with any silly restocking fee. I'm not sure if they would always do that or not but there were also some other mitigating factors that wouldn't make sense to go into here. Bottom line.... Great box for some people and good service and support so go check it out.

I'll go start another thread with what I have decided to do so check that out! maybe it can help someone else out there.

Thank you,

Jason Silzle
http://www.dovedigitalmedia.com
Owner/Founder
Dove Digital Media


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John Davidson
Re: SAN - Small Studio
on May 17, 2013 at 11:58:52 pm

That's probably about as good a speed as you'll get over gigE. Please share whatever you end up with and thanks for giving us the update!

John Davidson | President / Creative Director | Magic Feather Inc.


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