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Recommendation on new RAID for 8 person design team

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Vince James
Recommendation on new RAID for 8 person design team
on Nov 12, 2012 at 11:32:58 pm

I am an IT guy with a background in Photography and Graphic design. Because of this I was recently put in charge of supporting our marketing team. There are 8 people on the team, all using mac, none of them are terribly technical.

Current Setup:
7 Mac Pro's & 1 iMac (all running 10.7)
Gigabit Network
Windows Server
1 terabyte storage

They have overgrown the storage and have no archiving system in place. The team grew rapidly and just kept adding bodies and Mac Pros without adding storage or adjusting their workflow. I need to help them with quite a few problems, but first and formost, they need more storage.

I was thinking of upgrading them to a Mac Mini server (quad-core) with a Promise 4tb Thunderbolt array. I would then use their old server as an archive (instead of the super-slow NAS they are currently attempting to use).

But I'm looking for YOUR recommendations. They need more room now and in the future. What storage solution will grow with them while being fast and compatible with their Mac investment? I have room to rack mount (or not) and the network infrastructure is sound.


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Caspian Brand
Re: Recommendation on new RAID for 8 person design team
on Nov 13, 2012 at 12:23:29 am

With 8 active users, you might want to consider a system with more physical disk drives and definitely more than a single shared GbE port.

Does the design team just work with stills or are they also doing video?

Will they have local scratch disks and just post finished work to the RAID/NAS?

You should also bolster the RAM on whatever computer you're using to host this.

-Caspian

Product Specialist
Studio Network Solutions


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Vince James
Re: Recommendation on new RAID for 8 person design team
on Nov 13, 2012 at 12:53:34 am

Mostly stills, we have 1 video user but he tends to work off local storage and only posts finished work to the network drive.

All Mac Pro users have two internal drives, but frankly they don't use the 2nd drive as a scratch disk like they should. Their typical work flow is to do all their work locally (InDesign, Illustrator, Photoshop, etc.) and then post finished work and assets to the RAID/NAS.

If I went with a mac mini I would definitely bump the ram. While I could go with a mac pro server, it would lack thunderbolt, which would push us to Fiber Channel, which would drive the cost waaay up.

Alternatively I could bump the amount of storage in their current windows server, and add a couple more GbE ports. But I don't know how I would set up the end users to automatically take advantage of the multiple GbE ports. Also, our end-users hate that search doesn't currently work with 10.7 and SMB shares. Are there any good alternatives out there, something in between a Mac Mini and a windows server?


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Rainer Wirth
Re: Recommendation on new RAID for 8 person design team
on Nov 13, 2012 at 9:43:31 am

a little tricky,

on a long term run you should go with fibre channel. Also because of the physical ways you have to go. Lets say the farest workstation is 100 meters of cable. This is, you know it, the best but the costly way. The other thing is: Stick to the workflow you have got and provide more storage. I would invest in a good server (FC later). Perhaps SAS is also an option increasing at least a fast raid 5 storage (Sonnet R800). Theoretically thunderbold provides you with good speed/price, but practically your dataspeed tends to meet esata. Esata would be another possibility.
The best and most solid invest lies in a FC network.
Think a bit into the future. Where are we going? If you get this answer right you can figure out the best solution. My experience is this: I've never regreted the most expensive solutions (in some cases they worked over ten years, and still working), but I've spent too much money on cheap ones.

Good luck

Rainer



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Bob Zelin
Re: Recommendation on new RAID for 8 person design team
on Nov 14, 2012 at 6:11:56 am

listen Vince, you are not going to figure this out yourself. You are not going to build a home brew shared storage system with a Mac Mini, that is going to do what you want.

Your first response was from Caspian Brand from Studio Network Solutions, which is one of 10 companies that can sell you a working system, that will do exactly what you want. Why don't you start with calling Caspian at Studio Network Solutions, and look into exactly what the EVO is, and what SANmp does.
Then you can click over to the SAN network forum on Creative Cow, and do a little reading, and see what other brands are out there. There are plenty of solutions for you, all you have to do is a little reading, right here on the Cow. But make that first call to Caspian , as their solution is excellent, and at least a starting point for your research.

Bob Zelin



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Alex Gerulaitis
Re: Recommendation on new RAID for 8 person design team
on Nov 14, 2012 at 9:51:04 am

[Vince James] "If I went with a mac mini I would definitely bump the ram. While I could go with a mac pro server, it would lack thunderbolt, which would push us to Fiber Channel, which would drive the cost waaay up."

Like Rainder said - SAS (MiniSAS) behind a server is the fastest and most expandable storage you can get for the money - less expensive than Thunderbolt, too.

That still leaves the question of bandwidth to the client systems open, i.e. does it need to be fast? How fast? Will 100MB/s aggregate do, or does it need to be faster?

A British company GB Labs makes a family of products called Space: a custom-flavored Linux storage server / NAS that can run multiple Ethernet ports at or near line speed (110MB/s for GbE, 700MB/s for 10GbE, per user). Something to consider if you want multiple users to run at full speed.

Alex Gerulaitis
Systems Engineer
DV411 - Los Angeles, CA


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Vince James
Re: Recommendation on new RAID for 8 person design team
on Nov 16, 2012 at 5:22:26 pm

Wow, thank you all for the wonderful recommendations. MiniSAS and Space look like amazing alternatives to the hardware I was looking at.

Much of this depends on how much of a budget I can get out of the business. And frankly, there are workflow and organization issues that need to be addressed with the design team first. Part of the reason they're so adamant about ADP over SMB is because they're disorganized and rely on search to make up for their lack of folder structure standards.

But when the time comes, I will be referencing the suggestions here, especially just calling Studio Network Solutions :-)


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Craig Wolf
Re: Recommendation on new RAID for 8 person design team
on Dec 3, 2012 at 6:01:47 pm

If it is strictly a file server you need for graphic editors, the mini with Promise R(4 or 6) is a great solution. We have that at many clients with up to 20 users, and they love the speed, especially if the workflow is that they work off of local storage, and save completed projects to the server.


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