SAN solution for Mac
Hi all, we are a small post house and we looking to invest in a SAN solution. We have 3 Mac Pros running Final Cut Pro 7 for editing, 1 Mac Pro running Maya and After Effects for motion graphic, 1 Mac Pro running After Effects and Nuke for compositing and 1 Mac Pro running Da Vinci for grading.
We store everything locally on those machine at the moment, we have about 4TB on each machine. The problem we have is that the current set up is not ideal for collaboration because we always have to copy the files to another machine. Also, we don't have a centralised storage for a project.
We have been looking at different SAN solution, and facilis terrablock seems to fit our needs. But we are not sure how well is it gonna work within a all mac environment. Also, do we need to upgrade our machine to 10GB ethernet and fiber channel for the grading suite?
Any other suggestion other than facilis?
I can answer the easy one - grading suites (resolve, Scratch, Nucoda for example) will have a couple needs for shared storage - for source frames, ongoing render and final render/output target. I'm not sure about resolve, but I know the real-time "background" render on some grading workstations can put a lot of load on a shared system, especially if other high bandwidth clients are accessing the SAN simultaneously.
The way we suggest working with color grading suites is to connect to the shared volume for real-time access of source DPX shots, and output of the final sequence. Background render, that constant write traffic, can be send to local drive array since that material may not be needed by other clients on the SAN. You would need a fat pipe, like 8Gb fibre or 10Gb Ethernet to accomplish this. We suggest fibre because it offers the 2K stereo bandwidth through Single-user Write.
Of course, we can build a SAN that allows you to house everything in one location, but the cost may be very different, and the workflow may not be improved enough to justify it.
On the other question about alternative products, I have no suggestions. :-)
I would definitely like to suggest another solution - GB Labs' Space (http://www.gblabs.com/products/Space/). It is a high performance NAS that works well with all of your applications, is very low maintenance, and costs less per TB than anything in its class.
It offers both 10GB and 1GB connection options. Depending on the bandwidth required by your FCP and graphics workstations, an effective network can be created to allow all of your systems to share media. If you end up needing to add new stations (e.g. grow your company or a Producer on a laptop for a day, etc.), it's no problem. If you end up needing to add a Windows station, it's no problem.
Also, scalability is very simple. Storage can be added quickly and dynamically - which means you don't have to add another icon onto your desktop, your existing volume just grows.
We are definitely big fans of Space. It has only been sold in the US for about a year, but has been used in the UK for about 3-4 years (the BBC is a major client). We have been selling them for about 9 months and it has been a perfect entry solution for that 4-8 editor environment that needs high speed and low maintenance.
It's also been a breeze for installation. One recent project: 2 weeks ago in Austin, TX - we flew in Saturday and by Monday 9AM, 22 clients were able to work on 64TB of Space full bore.
If you would like to know more, please let me know.
New Media Hollywood
Thank you for your reply, James. Your suggestion about storing the background render files on the local drive totally make sense. According to the data on facilis website, we only need 10Gb ethernet for FCP, AE and Nuke. So the grading suite is the only workstation requires fibre connection, right?
Hi Andrew, thanks for your reply as well. I couldn't find a lot info on the gblabs website. Do you mind giving me a bit more info about Space? Does it have a software like facilis to creative a virtual volume or it's just one big volume with 64TB? Does it support AFP?
As far as virtual volumes go, you can create a virtual volume structure very easily in Space by using Projects. Each project is a different 'volume' on the desktop, furthermore you can quota these and change the quota at a later date. This gives you the same functionality as virtual volume in a much more flexible and open way.
Space currently does not support AFP - we have 100% Mac companies and mixed platform companies using Space with NFS without any problems. Another option for companies who need more controls for their users is implementing CIFS.
We have been installing fibre solutions for over 15 years. Last Fall we installed the first Xsan using mac mini's as metadata controllers with Lion in a live post-production environment in the country (a pretty cool video case study will be at the Promise booth at NAB) - fibre is still a relevant and useful technology. But when a client is looking to build their first shared solution, a high-speed GbE NAS solution like Space is our automatic first suggestion. It has the best value with the lowest maintenance and greatest flexibility/scalability.
Let me know what additional type of information you would like on Space and I can provide it.
New Media Hollywood
Andrew is right. GB Labs Space is a great IP based SAN. We have quite a few installs in Australia (multiple 1GbE and a 4 x 10GbE). It is easy to expand the capacity via a SAS expander and increase the bandwidth with an optional RAID card.
Did you ever end up making a decision on shared storage solution?
ArcStorage has some options for you and we also provide AFP support. We run a unified architecture on a ZFS file system, so you can run NFS/CIFS, iSCSI, FCP, and Infiniband all from the same storage array. We can customize a solution to fit your specific needs. We also build boxes specifically for video editing or VDI deployments. We've been able to track 1158 mb/s sustained transfer rate for ProRes HD video to 10 editers off a single array.
ping me with any questions.
I'm in the same exact scenario as you. I am curious what storage solution you decided on. Thanks,