SAN for a neophyte - low res offline solution
I am looking for a solution to bring a DV PAL or less archive to a classic intranet network. I wish to have access to the archive through a web browser via gigabit connection. I am looking at a maximum of 10 seats at anyone time. The primary problem is that this system must be integrated with a classic IT network.
Naturally, there is a low budget solution ...
I am investigating Final Cut Server and ConSol
But I am looking for any reliable suggestions
I have no idea about SAN and it looks like a very complex subject.
Any comments on how to avoid XSAN for this low res config are very welcome.
it looks like this works with proxy files, not DV25 files. 10 seats is not a small network. We have discussed wonderful solutions that work on dedicated ethernet networks, using link aggregation, which requires a dedicated computer, and specialty ethernet equipment, not your "classic office network".
SAN is a complex subject. I have heard from IT guys for years "oh we can do that - it's just a network". Well, it's not, or you would have heard about countless companies doing this without issue and without expense. I have no idea of what your budget is, but if you are doing a FCP network for 10 seats, you are going to need a server, a big disk drive array, and specialty ethernet equipment. This is not a "classic IT network" that your IT guys can piece together from stuff they have lying around the office.
There are other wonderful solutions from companies like Fibrejet, that dont' require a server, but they have software licenses per FCP seat, and require fibre connections back to a switch, so this adds up very quickly. There are new solutions with Fibre only that don't require a server (like the new Sonnet/JMR solution) that max out at 4 clients, unless you add an additional fibre switch.
So the bottom line, is that you have to spend SOME MONEY, and you have to engage SOMEONE who you will pay to help your company out. You will not just figure this out. Even if your company had unlimited money, and were willing to buy XSAN, SOMEONE would have to be TRAINED at your company to do this. This aint' plug and play, liek a firewire drive.
You see on this forum companies like Maxx Digital and Granite Stor providing ethernet based solutions. They are inexpensive, compared to fibre, but they are not cheap. They also have limitations compared to fibre solutions, but for your DV25 requirements, they will work just fine.
But if I am wrong, and all you want to work with is proxy files over the web, the "consol" product does look interesting.
Thank you very much for this very complete analysis. I understand fully what you are saying. For the moment I oversee 10 Avid unity installations and I have a full appreciation of why Unitys are what they are and why they are the price they are.
My problem is really about prepping edits, not doing them. For the moment, when someone asks for a tape to be made, an edit suite is blocked with an editor who sit with a client, going through hours of material on a server. When you explain this process to a client, he finds it a little absurd that he cannot prep the material all alone and then supply the useful material to the editor. Naturally the client does not want to learn FCP, avid or anything else but he is bright enough to slide elements into a list, imovie style.
Avid Interplay is way too expensive. Final Cut Server sounds like a good solution except that when one counts in the XSAN seats it also becomes very expensive. I have also seen Ark by Editshare, but have little info on it. I notice that you offer a Maxx solution that is interesting, but again, is there a way to turn it more into a video archive with a simple browser based edit app than a classic edit server. GraniteStor also looks very promising but, again, what can the client interface be. I have seen a simple flash based edit system but it has no database possibilties (maybe MYSQL but this is all too dangerous) ... (When you buy Avid, you don't ask yourself all these nasty questions).
The other question is how one can integrate these sort of solutions over standard gigabit ethernet installation, which already has a server (here we enter the twilight zone). I also thought of buying an second hand Avid Lanshare which is a very sturdy SAN box and has ethernet. But I cannot see a way to make the lanshare architecture work with web browser editing. Also, Avid is like XSAN, the licence allows only a certain amount of clients and they have to have special software installed etc...
Anyway, if it were simple, were would all know about it ... that is why I am asking.
since you want to "Browse" and not edit for this system, a product like Final Cut Server (that uses proxy files) is probably exactly what you want - and not Editshare, Final Share or GraniteStor. I know nothing about the original product you mentioned, but you should look into that.
In addition, there is a new browsing solution called CatDV, that is featured on Creative Cow - again, I know nothing about it, but there is a forum on Cow that is dedicated to this application, which may be what you want.
Solutions like Unity, Editshare, Granite Stor, Final Share, etc. are all media based editing shared storage solutions. This is not what you need (according to what you are telling me).
Many thanks for helping to clarify my thinking.
Do you know about Avid's "Media Manager Select". Sound like it does what you're looking for.
By the way, almost six years ago we switched to FCP-XSAN from Avid Unity in part to achieve exactly what you're looking for. Did you know that you can "tap in" to an X-SAN using AFP or SMB using your "IT" internet config. We do this for our story departments. It's economical because you do NOT need another X-SAN license, another Fibre drop, or even a copy of FCP if all they're doing is watching.
DV quality will push the bandwidth limits of this process, but for us, we work primarily at off-line RT, which is an incredibly low bandwith codec. We have 20- 25 people all pulling off the SAN via the ethernet (in addition to all of our fibre connected clients).
Many thanks for this very interesting reply.
Sadly, Media Manager Select was a lanshare product that has been superseded by the Interplay, an extremely expensive server solution.
But this gives me an idea. Lanshares are cheap 2nd hand now and still excellent workhorses ...
But my real interest is in your XSAN set up. Am I right in saying that you access the XSAN via an ethernet connection from any computer on the your network. I presume this is like mounting a disk on the desktop and viewing QTs. I need a real interface as I need to protect where people go. FCSvr seems like a good solution except that I can't work out how many XSAN licences I need for ethernet access via a web browser?
I have just spoken to Consol concerning their RCE product ...
... that adds web browser editing access to FCSvr.
The sales person said to me that the product needs only QT to be installed on the client and that the licence is based on unlimited number of accesses. They have tested it with 50 simultaneous connections, but theoretically, there could be more. There is no need to have an XSAN licence unless you want to connect an FCP directly to the server. The system exports FCP XMLs of the rough cuts.
All this for a 700 euros!! He confessed that the install was rather complex, but they could handle this over the web for a fee.
After having had a look around, this strikes me as a remarkable deal.