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Shared Storage-Is it Worth it?

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Greg Jones
Shared Storage-Is it Worth it?
on Nov 30, 2006 at 10:31:41 pm

I just wanted to get some opinions on Shared Video Storage. I know Apple has the XSan, XServe system but are there cheaper, easier solutions out there that other people are using? I'd also like to hear from anyone that is using the XSAN, XServe system to see what the ups and downs are. My company has been working on projects lately that have been pretty complex as far as media goes and I trying to see what options are out there. Any advice would be much appreciated.

Greg Jones
D7,Inc.
Orlando,Fl.
http://www.d7-inc.com


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walter biscardi
Re: Shared Storage-Is it Worth it?
on Nov 30, 2006 at 11:00:25 pm

[Greg Jones] "know Apple has the XSan, XServe system but are there cheaper, easier solutions out there that other people are using?"

The best solution I've heard of is from Facilis. All networking is built on to their Fibre Channel arrays. All you do is run a single Fibre Channel cable from your system to the array. Each system comes ready to connect to 8 computers out of the box.

Do you need shared storage? Depends on your situation and how many people have access the same media at the same time. We don't need it just yet but might be at that point before the end of 2007. I know a few folks running Facilis for this very reason are extremely happy with both the product and the support.

Walter Biscardi, Jr.
http://www.biscardicreative.com
HD Editorial & Animation for Food Network's "Good Eats"
HD Editorial for "Assignment Earth"

"I reject your reality and substitute my own!" - Adam Savage, Mythbusters


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Ramona Howard
Re: Shared Storage-Is it Worth it?
on Dec 1, 2006 at 1:28:55 am

Walter,

The latest item we are working on is 2 arrays running different filesystems. This will allows us run one as a SAN, while the other continues to offer dedicated I/O. We have been running 2 filesystems on a single box (JFS and XFS) for awhile and don't anticipate this to be an issue. Our fist tests/certification is with the ADIC stuff, which is what the Xsan uses. This is nice because we can pack up to 18TB in our boxes now, splitting the arrays in a variety of configs.

The point, shared storage is nice but dedicated I/O is a must (at least if you don't want the headaches).

Cheers,
Rmona



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Tom Bridges
Re: Shared Storage-Is it Worth it?
on Dec 1, 2006 at 1:42:57 pm

[Ramona Howard] "The point, shared storage is nice but dedicated I/O is a must (at least if you don't want the headaches)."

What exactly do you mean by this? We're running a 10-seat XSan on a 4Gb fibre backbone, using ADTX storage. Digitising and laybacks work just fine for us: from 4:4:4 HD to DV.

The real value of shared storage, for us, is the flexibility. In a post house environment, we can shuttle projects between edit, grade, audio, screening room etc. with a simple logout and login. It's very, very easy. Collaboration is another huge advantage: with shared storage the VFX artist can be compositing the shots whilst the editors drop them into the timeline as soon as they're done.

A fully-loaded XSan is not cheap and, despite what people would have you believe, requires a fair bit of administration. It certainly does in a post environment, anyway, with new clients every day. But it's extremely powerful software.

Good luck!

Tom


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Ramona Howard
Re: Shared Storage-Is it Worth it?
on Dec 1, 2006 at 6:19:13 pm

Tom,

In a high volume environment dedicated I/O storage will always prove to be less of a headache than sharing this between say 50-100 artists (I am talking about digitizing and laying off). Agreed that shared is the most flexible way, as data can be shared easily, but it is always not the most practical in every scenerio. I am only talking in regards to uncompressed material as DV is a different story altogether.

Sure we can digitize directly to the SAN, but now we are at the mercy of what the entire facility is also doing. For our customers workflows this is not an option for this function in the facility.

No argument if it's worth it, which is why we are implementing it :)


Cheers,
Ramona



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Tom Bridges
Re: Shared Storage-Is it Worth it?
on Dec 2, 2006 at 12:01:01 am

[Ramona Howard] "between say 50-100 artists"

I can absolutely see the requirement for this with these kinds of numbers, certainly with uncompressed video. Our XSan is on a different scale altogether.

With our Atto dual-fibres, though, we can implement a similar arrangement: suites can be on the SAN and direct attached simultaneously. This allows for the best of both worlds. Currently we're just using this arrangement to pull media off the SAN onto nearline storage, but it could just as easily be used to guarantee bandwidth for layback/digitising. Is this the same kind of idea that you're proposing?

Interesting dialogue, thank you!

Best,

Tom


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Ramona Howard
Re: Shared Storage-Is it Worth it?
on Dec 8, 2006 at 6:57:16 pm

Tom,

Anytime. It's always nice to give a little insight as to what the big dogs are doing. I know I tend to be a bit vague on the answers sometimes, can't divulge all that our clients are doing, only in respect to what we are providing.

It's all a matter of workflow, no single answer will fit every scenario. We simply try to put as many options into the mix so there is no getting stuck "into one way", seems to be the answer as every studio is using RaveHD in a different capacity.

Cheers,
Ramona


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Andrew Schuurmann
Re: Shared Storage-Is it Worth it?
on Dec 1, 2006 at 5:13:18 pm

It was totally worth it for us, but as everyone has already said, it depends on your workflow. We share 5 FCP stations and a graphics station and it's allowed us to take our collaboration as a team to a new level.
We're using an IdeaRaid from Archion and it's been great -- rock solid and basically transparent in our workflow. We considered Facilis but it was a few years ago when they were just coming on the market and didn't have the track record they do now. We also considered Xsan but were concerned about how complicated it might be to administer/maintain.
It's definitely a large investement but I'd say it's already paid for itself in the amount of time saved for us.

Andrew


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Jeff Bernstein
Re: Shared Storage-Is it Worth it?
on Dec 1, 2006 at 5:59:37 pm

I would also check out MetaSAN. Like XSAN, it is a file-based SAN environment but it is WAY easier to administer and does not require OS X Server nor XServes nor a dedicated metadata server, nor a separate dedicated ethernet network. That's a mouth full. Support from Tiger Technologies is also great.

What is also neat is that it will work with both HFS+ and NTFS. So if you have any hard drive issues, you can use the tools that have been available for years to help you out.

If you are just doing compressed video, you can utilize their solution over Ethernet to help cut costs.

Check it out at http://www.tiger-technology.com/

Jeff

Jeff Bernstein

Digital Desktop Consulting
Apple Pro Video VAR
XSAN Certified

323-653-7611


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