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Network Shared Storage - Video Post

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Michael Sheetz
Network Shared Storage - Video Post
on Apr 10, 2014 at 9:37:10 pm

Okay, so here goes, I need some advice from the brain trust in this forum. I'll try to be as precise and clear as possible but understand that some of the technical issues are new to me. I've tried to organize my post logically but if there is anything unclear or hard to follow let me know and I'll try to fix it.

The current situation:
I have a small editing network that I use to work on side projects on a part-time basis. This set up is located in my home office space and consists of the following:

3 homebrew PC's Dual Xeon (8 cores) with 32 GB ram each Running Windows (2 on 7, 1 on 8). They are networked using 1 G/bE through an 8-port unmanaged switch. For storage each has roughly 4 TB of direct-attached storage that is not "shared" per se (unless you include sneaker-net) although I can copy from workstation to workstation over the network it is understandably inefficient.
1 iMac (2008)- running Mavericks

Matrox MXO2 Mini

Most of the projects that I work on consist of AVCHD, Prores422, or HDV with a very small number of legacy SD quality files and a growing number of Matrox AVI files at various bitrates ranging from 50 Mbps to 300 Mbps. Going forward I envision taking on projects in 2K and hopefully 4K as well.

There are two of us working on the system (occasionally simultaneously) using the following software:
Adobe CC - Premiere; After Effects; Photoshop; Illustrator; Audition (rarely)
ProTools 10
Maya; Cinema4d; Mocha pro; Matchmover 2013.

I'm sure I'm forgetting something but that is the basic setup.

Why I need help

I just inherited some equipment from a colleague who is no longer doing post work. My goal is to integrate the new equipment into my existing setup as painlessly and efficiently as possible and in the process hopefully make my life easier (a relative concept I know) and more productive.

The inherited equipment is as follows (it is sitting in my space gathering dust but when last set up worked fine)
3 MacPro 3.1 boxes (all three running on Xeon Quads (8 cores) with 8 GB each) One is running Mac OS X server and XSAN 2.2, the other two are running Mac OSX 10.6 (Snow Leopard). The metadata network is a 1 GbE backbone with a 16 port GbE Netgear switch and the SAN is on 4 Gb Fibre connecting through a 4Gb switch (not in front of the equipment so I don't have the nomenclature-sorry). The storage is an ActiveRAID 16 TB box.

The software of interest here is of course FCP 7 (I don't anticipate an upgrade to X soon, as I do much work in AVID and A/E, less in FCP)

Here are my parameters/limitations
1. At the risk of incurring the wrath of this forum-and rightly so-- I want to preface my question with the following caveat. Financial investment is a very big factor here since there was nothing technically "wrong" with either my PC network or the inherited system as both worked just fine for what they were designed. My exploration of options here is simply an attempt to get the most bang for the buck given my windfall of computer booty, so this will shape everything I do.

2. My computer skill: I have a great deal of experience with PC based systems and Ethernet networking, but also have a fair amount of experience with MAC. However; I have little or no experience with XSAN and similarly little experience with Fibre and SAN over fibre.

3. My primary goals: (a) set up an environment where my partner and I can efficiently work on the same project sharing storage (b) provide dedicated workstations for each stage of our workflow, i.e. one for editing, one for graphics/titles/cg, one as and audio DAW, etc. all sharing the same resources on different workstations (c) utilize the multiple computers on the system as nodes in a render farm for both A/E and Cinema4d.

4. What I don't necessarily envision needing right now is multiple streams of 2-4K footage streaming across network simultaneously to a bunch of editors or workstations, although as we grow this is certainly is possible.

5. I realize that the job of network administration and maintaining/administering this sort of setup should be a job unto itself; however, that is simply not an option (since this is really a discretionary upgrade anyway)and I have no qualms about getting my hands dirty to see that everything plays nicely together.

Given all of that, what I would like to hear from everyone here is am I on the right track?

Option 1: connect the existing PC's by F/C HBA's to the existing ActiveRAID network with StorNext FX and call it a day. What would be the pros/cons?

Option 2: dismantle the F/C components, keep the MAC's and PC's on a 1GbE network and find an alternative SAN/NAS soultion (keeping in mind my desire to migrate efficiently to 2/4 K soon.

Option 3: some hybrid of the two that I have not yet hit upon.

Lastly, sorry about the length of this post and again, sorry if I am off-base or something is missing so go easy on me and I appreciate all the help this forum provide.

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Bob Zelin
Re: Network Shared Storage - Video Post
on Apr 13, 2014 at 1:41:14 am

option 2

Bob Zelin

Bob Zelin
Rescue 1, Inc.

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David Gagne
Re: Network Shared Storage - Video Post
on Apr 14, 2014 at 3:48:27 am

Lol Bob hates XSAN :)

On the other hand, he is right. Long term you probably don't want to invest into that old architecture, or go with a StorNext architecture, unless you plan on scaling really large. It's just not worth it.

What I'd do in your shoes is make the most of what you got short term, and plan on upgrading to a nice new NAS solution when you can.

Option 3 (short term solution):
Upgrade your Macs to 10.9 (after doing a backup) and the latest XSAN / SMB stack. Share the XSAN volume from one of the clients (or add a mini to do it), and mount that on the PCs. At least you all have SOME access to the same volume, although you'll be limited by the network of the fileshare. You COULD even upgrade one of the mac pros to be a server with a 10gbE card and a switch...

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Michael Sheetz
Re: Network Shared Storage - Video Post
on Apr 14, 2014 at 2:12:45 pm

Thanks for the feedback. I actually had been giving the SMB solution on the PC's some thought. I think that by re-thinking my workflow and what I use the Macs versus the PC's for, it might be the best short-term solution. While the GbE isn't a lot, by moving all my graphics/titling/AE/Cinema4D work onto the PC side of the LAN I could perhaps limit the bandwidth hit from the fileshare but keep access to the shared files and then do all the editing/color on the F/C side of the system where the bandwidth would be more robust. Thanks again for everyone's input.

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