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Go with known video SAN vendors? Or an IT dept solution?

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Scott Smith
Go with known video SAN vendors? Or an IT dept solution?
on Oct 8, 2013 at 8:51:43 pm

Large university, with departmental merger. We are building a new studio with about 4 or 5 edit bays plus a 3-D graphics position. Predominantly Mac-based with Adobe CC products. May see a PC with 3DS-Max and/or Maya. I'm the Broadcast Engineer for the department. Part of this upgrade includes a SAN and backup/archival system.

So, I was initially planning to get a SNS EVO RAID/SAN system with a Cache-A Archival/Backup solution. I know these are well respected units in our field.

But then . . . our IT department reared its more-than-ample-sized head, and wanted us to utilize their services to design and configure a system. I am not 100% sure on all of the components, as they sometimes lapse into a lingo I cannot quite follow at the speed at which they sling it, but they are looking at some kind of Hitachi Raid with a built in fiber switch (somewhat similar to the EVO??) and some archival system that sounded similar in design and function to the Cache-A systems, but they didn't seem to be very forthcoming on the make and model.

My real question is, would you trust an IT solution from an IT department that realistically never deals with Broadcast type needs? They are sharp guys, and I'm sure they are looking at good equipment. But I am not so sure they are looking at equipment that works well with the demands of video editing. When is data, NOT just data. If you think their system might be lacking, what technical requirement do I need to demand that their system meet aside from the obvious Storage quantity with high bandwidth? I know the system they have planned does NOT have any kind of client-side SAN software - which concerns me. Though if it worked well without it, I'd be happy about it.

I am just afraid that I am going to end up with a solution that would work great for genetics research, but crashes with every video playback. Thoughts?


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Alex Gerulaitis
Re: Go with known video SAN vendors? Or an IT dept solution?
on Oct 8, 2013 at 10:04:44 pm

[Scott Smith] "they sometimes lapse into a lingo I cannot quite follow at the speed at which they sling it... would you trust an IT solution from an IT department that realistically never deals with Broadcast type needs?"

I think you answered that question already: no. To confirm that, sling your own lingo at them at even faster speeds and see if they can follow. Ask them to do a brief proposal that guarantees compatibility with your creative apps (Adobe, etc.), gives a guaranteed aggregate and per-client bandwidth and IOPS. If they blink, start smirking or say something like, "well, your apps can't be anything as IOPS and uptime hungry as that Oracle database we're running", then it's confirmed: they can't be trusted (yet). You can tell them to stop smirking and actually prove it. Put the ball in their court, make them do a little research on your apps - that would go a long way for a healthy relationship with your IT folks - after all, it helps to have them on your side. After doing that research, they may end up recommending the same equipment you've already looked at.

The other side of this conundrum is some homework of your own: preparing a decent RFP. Figure out your current and estimate your future needs in performance (bandwidth, IOPS), scalability and expandability, uptime. It can be a lot of work, but it's worth it.

Alex Gerulaitis
Systems Engineer
DV411 - Los Angeles, CA


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Eric Newbauer
Re: Go with known video SAN vendors? Or an IT dept solution?
on Oct 9, 2013 at 3:47:11 pm

Hi Scott,

I work for SNS. Hopefully it goes without saying, but we'd be happy to have a call with the folks in your IT shop if they'd be up for a chat. We've done this call many times, and we can speak very well to the concerns IT departments have when they're faced with having something like this under their roof.

[Scott Smith] "My real question is, would you trust an IT solution from an IT department that realistically never deals with Broadcast type needs?"

I'll bet your IT department is excellent and that they have great intentions. But the key word in your question is "solution." Think of it like this: Two vendors might have identical hardware, but vendor A knows how to deploy it and has years of experience supporting it in a specific environment, whereas vendor B knows how to deploy it but has never gone through the certain integration issues that are going to happen in that environment.

Vendor A has a lab that's full of the same computers and applications you're using, and they can refer to the entire support history of thousands of customers who use the solution just like you're going to use it. Vendor A has relationships with the other companies who make the products you rely on to do your work. Vendor A does this exact same thing every day and keeps up with the new problems that occur with the use of their solution -- even when the problem is not caused by their solution -- that are due to changes like new OS upgrades, application upgrades, driver/firmware upgrades, etc. Vendor B does not.

As far as your needs are concerned, only one of these vendors fits your definition of a "solution."

I'll give you a recent example. We had a few customers who reported strange issues while capturing video, and since several customers reported this problem at about the same time we could infer some things. We could compare data from multiple disparate sources about operating systems, application versions, drivers, capture cards, etc. and see what matched up. Next -- and this is huge -- we setup the same environments, and we were able to test with the many different capture cards we have at our disposal. We ultimately found a bug that affects ONE of the capture cards (driver) with a particular NLE/version, and we contacted those manufacturers who were quickly able to reproduce the same problem using any storage system.

It's those kinds of examples, of which there are many, that best demonstrate why we believe it's so important to have a shared storage system purpose-built for, and backed by companies in our own industry.

Eric Newbauer
Studio Network Solutions (SNS)
http://www.studionetworksolutions.com


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Scott Smith
Re: Go with known video SAN vendors? Or an IT dept solution?
on Oct 9, 2013 at 6:33:57 pm

Thanks for that offer, Eric. I may take you up on that one day soon. I've been dealing with Jay Heikkila a bit a few months ago, before we hit a roadblock.


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Bob Zelin
Re: Go with known video SAN vendors? Or an IT dept solution?
on Oct 10, 2013 at 12:12:30 am

Hi Scott -
you have to understand that the IT department wants to protect their position. They want to control all computer products at your University. I see this all the time with big corporations. They want to use their Dell server, and 1G Cisco switch. This is what they know. They don't want to know anything else. Anything else sucks.

They will not succeed. They would (just like we did) if they put the time into it. But they don't understand different video codec's, they don't understand that you need 90 - 100 MB/sec PER CLIENT minimum to make this work. Sharing a 1G port on a Cisco Catalyst switch will do nothing for you. They think that being able to watch YouTube Videos on multiple computers means that you can have shared storage for video editing.

And when they fail, it will all be over, and they won't care. WE CARE. We want your money. So does SNS (which is a great company).
What the IT deparment REALLY doesn't want, is an outside vendor, that will "take their work away", because the school may say "hey we can just hire an outside vendor for IT, and not have to pay these guys benefits, and vacation". So that's the real story.

You should use a company like Studio Network Solutions (or others that you see on these forums).

Bob Zelin

Bob Zelin
Rescue 1, Inc.
maxavid@cfl.rr.com


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Scott Smith
Re: Go with known video SAN vendors? Or an IT dept solution?
on Oct 10, 2013 at 1:27:56 am

Thanks for the response, Bob.

That was my feeling, but wasn't certain if pretty high end IT stuff was still up to the task. I gather it could be made to be up to the task, but would have a significant amount of growing pains in the process as they learned what doesn't work. Meanwhile my department suffers the consequences.

How do you feel about an EVO Raid/SAN with a Cache-a archival system, but with them performing data backups for me? Do you think regular backups are a good place to utilize their services by sending them a single fiber channel off our San? (Assuming they will even agree to interface with the EVO)

By the way, I may have been a little harsh with phrases like "reared their ample sized heads". They are good guys, trying to do the best they can for us, and likely assume their system is superior.-which it may even possibly be, though I don't particularly want to be the Guinea Pig for that experiment.


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Scott Smith
Re: Go with known video SAN vendors? Or an IT dept solution?
on Oct 10, 2013 at 1:32:09 am

. . . And I DO believe they were giving me a solution that is likely to work, with several fiber connections, and SAS drives. They were certainly trying to ensure I had ample bandwidth. I am just extremely hesitant to go with an unproven scenario - there is just too much at stake.


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Bob Zelin
Re: Go with known video SAN vendors? Or an IT dept solution?
on Oct 11, 2013 at 3:51:19 am

Hi Scott -
it's very simple. There are lots of wonderful solutions out there.
Studio Network Solutions is one of them. There are plenty of others. I am a poster boy for Cache-A and a beta tester for them. But there are other wonderful LTO solutions out there as well. And these are all companies that are in the video business, that display at video trade shows like NAB, that advertise and orient their business models towards our business. This is what Creative Cow is all about.

Your IT department has NO CLUE about the video business, and about OUR IT solutions that we provide for the video business. And it is my opinion that if you were to suggest to your IT department "hey you guys should look into Facilis, EditShare, SNS, Small Tree, Maxx Digital, Cache-A, Tolis Group, etc., etc." they would problably say "what is all that crap - it's not Dell, it's not HP, it's not Cisco, it's not Windows Server 2012, so it's a bunch of garbage" - this is why WE know that they are a bunch of idiots, that will NEVER accomplish what you want. Believe me - we compete with each other all day long, and "bad mouth" each other, saying how we are better than the next guy for "this and that" reason - but ALL OF US can accomplish the goal - and NONE OF THEM can give you a working shared storage system or LTO system for HD VIDEO PRODUCTION, because they do not have a clue of what's involved in making this happen. But you threaten their job security, and they simply dont' care - and they really don't care if you have a working system or not - as long as their job is not threatened.

Sorry, but DELL does not make a working shared storage system for the video industry, that can serve up HD video at the bandwidth that you need. End of story.

Bob Zelin

Bob Zelin
Rescue 1, Inc.
maxavid@cfl.rr.com


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Tim Wilson
Re: Go with known video SAN vendors? Or an IT dept solution?
on Oct 11, 2013 at 4:52:37 am

[Bob Zelin] "Believe me - we compete with each other all day long, and "bad mouth" each other, saying how we are better than the next guy for "this and that" reason - but ALL OF US can accomplish the goal - and NONE OF THEM can "

Just wanted to make sure that everybody sees this sentence. We're thinking about making some variation of it the new motto of Creative COW.


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Scott Smith
Re: Go with known video SAN vendors? Or an IT dept solution?
on Oct 11, 2013 at 5:08:16 am

Lol. Awesomely said, Bob. You have a way with words. A harsh & abrasive but also very truthful and to the point way with words. That is why The Cow is so valuable of a resource.

Now, tell me how you really feel.

Thanks Bob.


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