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Networking and SAN/NAS for a large number of users

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Marc Kerr
Networking and SAN/NAS for a large number of users
on May 11, 2015 at 2:35:10 pm

We are in the planning stage for a rather large networked solution for a large number of students using shared computers to capture and edit video. I'm at the point where I need to justify the need for networking infrastructure and I need to know if I'm on the right track or completely wrong. I've been doing system support for a long time but haven't had to deal with this sort of networking and SAN of this size before.

We are planning 2 networks, 1 is the regular network for outside world connectivity. The second network would be private and dedicated only to allow systems to connect to the SAN/NAS system. This secondary network and its configuration is what we need to justify. The problem those who control networking want everything home run to a large data center and I believe this will be very impractical and extremely costly. They also think we can just share the regular network

The situation is as follows. The private network for the SAN/NAS would connect about 12 workstations via 10GB fiber and 100 workstations via 1GB copper. We believe we will use iSCSI unless our SAN vendor recommends something else. At this point we are just planning the infrastructure. We will have 5 48Port 1GB switches connected with 40GB of fiber to a 48 port 10GB switch which also handles the 12 fiber connected workstations. I believe the SAN will start out at about 64TB and have up to 12 10GB fiber connections to the switch. Running that much fiber 4 miles to datacenter seems like it would be very very costly.

At any one time 6 fiber connected workstations and 50 copper connected ones will be working on data from the SAN. Is that even practical given the setup above? The students will be working on video captured on everything from a Go Pro to Studio quality HD video files. There could even be a bit of 3D and 4K video being edited. The primary point of the SAN and its network is to allow students to work on their video at any of the workstations in the facility without using their own hard drive to carry the video around. It would be nice if they can work directly from the SAN. It's fine to tell me I have no clue what I'm doing.

So the real questions. Is this even practical for this number of systems connecting to the SAN simultaneously? Will workstations experience too much latency over this network to make online editing usable? Are there resources I should be looking at to understand the data and thru put needs?


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Ryan Ackland
Re: Networking and SAN/NAS for a large number of users
on May 11, 2015 at 6:08:24 pm

Hi Marc,

I would like to help you out with your questions and concerns if you would like. I work for Maxx Digital and we are a solutions provider of all kinds. (SAN/NAS) Please feel free to give me a call at 714-374-4944 or shoot me an email at ryan@maxxdigital.com

Thanks Marc.


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Simon Blackledge
Re: Networking and SAN/NAS for a large number of users
on May 12, 2015 at 1:04:04 pm

So at full saturation you could in theory be pulling 22GBs :-o



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Bob Zelin
Re: Networking and SAN/NAS for a large number of users
on May 12, 2015 at 9:40:51 pm

Marc -
you are doing this all wrong. I see this is your first post on Creative Cow. You state in your post "we believe that we will use iSCSI unless our SAN vendor recommends something else". Who on earth is your SAN vendor ? Don't they have an established client list, where they have done video installations like this ? From your description of your installation (12 10G and 100 1G), this sounds more like a TV station than a school. Plenty of "vendors" are video specific vendors that do this for a living. I have listed them countless times on this very forum, and many of them either advertise right here on Creative Cow, or even have their own forums.
I will tell you this - if you choose a generic networking vendor, that does not have specific background and experience in installing a video shared storage environment, you will wind up with an incredibly expensive failure on your hands.

Yes, you use two networks - one for internet, one for shared storage.
But your whole description of running the massive fiber lines is just crazy. You have 12 workstations - you put the switch right there by the workstations, and run an SFP+ back to your server.
And you are never ever going to get 112 clients working on a single 16 bay with 64 TB of storage, not unless everyone is working at super low bandwidth.

This is my general suggestion to you. Read Creative Cow. Review some of the past threads on this forum. Find companies that people talk about for video shared storage and CALL THESE COMPANIES. I don't give a crap if your "SAN Vendor" has a contract with your school system - they are probably incompetent to do this job, and you will have a huge, expensive failure. Use one of the many companies discussed here on Creative Cow that do this for a living, and you will have a wonderful working system. Remember - this should be a simple project - don't make it complicated. Don't make it an IT nightmare.

I am sorry if I sound insulting in this post. But you need to stop relying on who the school uses, and get a qualified vendor that makes these systems.


Bob Zelin

Bob Zelin
Rescue 1, Inc.
bobzelin@icloud.com


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Marc Kerr
Re: Networking and SAN/NAS for a large number of users
on May 13, 2015 at 2:35:20 pm

Hay Bob, yea you do come across as rather harsh but not necessarily insulting. Despite that the info you provided is useful. Thanks.

Yes we are trying to essentially build a TV/movie studio and provide as close to real life experience as possible. Because this is a university environment instructors also have their favorite software so we can/t standardize, we'll have FinalCut, Adobe and AVID for sure and being professors someone will fine whacky 3D option they want to try.

We haven't actually selected a SAN yet. We talked with 1 vendor, who is used in broadcast TV, but we but they still need details of our setup to really make recommendations. This post is part of me trying to figure out those details and make sure I'm asking for the right infrastructure. At this very moment I'm concerned with getting the infrastructure right (conduit, wire, fiber) before they start putting drywall up which is literally in days. Because of politics and shifts in responsibilities our departmental IT was consulted late in the game so we're in catchup mode. We still have politics to over come from central IT to justify the need for the secondary network outside of their central control.

So it sounds like we are on the right track with the physical infrastructure. The copper will be CAT 6A which is 10Gb capable, with the run lengths we are proposing, and the fiber is 25Gb capable. So that's a little future proofing. We should also have proper conduit if we ever need to run more lines.

With infrastructure out of the way selecting a SAN is going to be about what bandwidth can we afford. The edit suites will need priority for sure. For the general classrooms we mostly want to keep them from spending half the class moving video files around. When 20 students all download the same 10Gb sample file I don't want that to take 20 minutes. 2 minutes later another 20 in the next classroom do the same. When they upload the their work for that class it also can't take 20 minutes. If it takes 10 minute at each end I can live with that. I don't want to spend another 100K to take 2 minutes off that time but if we get 2x the storage capacity and full bandwidth to all edit suits then maybe we will.

We should have 6 to 9 month before we need to select the SAN and network gear.


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Bob Zelin
Re: Networking and SAN/NAS for a large number of users
on May 13, 2015 at 11:04:29 pm

because AVID Media Composer is one of the software programs that you want to use, you are now limited to the SAN or NAS that you want to setup. Again, I urge you to keep that in mind - AVID Media composer will NOT work with a generic system. You need a specific vendor (that includes AVID, EditShare, Facilis, SNS, Small Tree, etc.) that knows exactly how to handle a shared AVID environment. A regular network - even mine - will NOT work with AVID Media Composer.

You have a bunch of classrooms - you put the 10G switch NEAR the classrooms, - for your 100 students, you get two 48 port switches with 10G uplinks, and put them NEAR the class rooms. The only thing you need to run with fiber are the SFP+ from these switches back to the server building. That's it. Everything else is copper (Cat6 or Cat6A).

Bob Zelin

Bob Zelin
Rescue 1, Inc.
bobzelin@icloud.com


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Marc Kerr
Re: Networking and SAN/NAS for a large number of users
on May 14, 2015 at 2:53:05 pm

All, thanks this is useful info.

Bob, that helps confirm what I was thinking about networking. If our network people give me enough dedicated fiber out to our nearly bomb proof datacenter then I'd love to put the SAN/NAS out there. The expense of that may prevent that though. We do have a secure location in the building near the classrooms for the network gear, and SAN if needed.

I guess I can say we are looking at SNS, we have had one meeting with them but I do need to look at the other solutions like the ones you listed. I like the SNS system mostly because you don't need an intermediary to muck up things. Or for me to muck up.


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Simon Blackledge
Re: Networking and SAN/NAS for a large number of users
on May 14, 2015 at 2:18:03 pm
Last Edited By Simon Blackledge on May 14, 2015 at 2:20:13 pm

Do yourself a HUGE favour.

If you are indeed looking at this many seats - and they are students..

make sure your San can do De Dupe. Youl will need it! And you can set per student quotas.

Because all students do is copy.. and copy.. and give to friend to use, and he/she copies etc.. etc...

It will happen.

DeDupe! = $$$$ but not as much $$$$ as the storage you will actually need vs what you think.


Either that or have a brilliant workflow course that they all must do. Because if it aint their money buying the drives they just won't think about it... nor care.

s



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Marc Kerr
Re: Networking and SAN/NAS for a large number of users
on May 14, 2015 at 3:11:48 pm

We started calculating the storage needs Yaow! We could easily get to 64TB in a single semester. We can make them delete about 90% at the end of the semester but it's adding up fast. Other factors are also indicating a minimum of 2 SAN units at this location. Again expense may limit how large we make them at this point but we'll try for expandability if we can't afford the space now. Quotas will be enforced.

Right now the situation is sub par for students, they do get common resources form a server but there's no server for them to upload their work files to. They use their own drives that have frozen and thawed in the back of their car a few times or they dump the camera to a local scratch drive and hope their buddy doesn't delete it because they needed the space. Any reasonably fast online storage that lets them work at any workstation will be an improvement over what they have now.


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Bob Zelin
Re: Networking and SAN/NAS for a large number of users
on May 14, 2015 at 10:32:31 pm

I love Studio Network Solutions - what a great product. Tell your "SAN Vendor" to go "shove it" and stick with SNS, and you will do fine. You can contact me if you have any specific questions about SNS products, and what they offer.

Bob Zelin

Bob Zelin
Rescue 1, Inc.
bobzelin@icloud.com


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Ron Amborn
Re: Networking and SAN/NAS for a large number of users
on May 19, 2015 at 9:48:55 pm

Bob
Do we have Marcs contact info to try and help him ?

Sincerely,
Ron Amborn President
Maxx Entertainment Digital
3189 Redhill Ave #B
Costa Mesa , Ca 92626
Direct 714-374-4944
Cell 714-713-4492 Fax 714-374-3404
ron@maxxdigital.com
http://www.maxxdigital.com




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