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2 FCP stations on one Xserve RAID

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Kim Rowley
2 FCP stations on one Xserve RAID
on Apr 6, 2008 at 7:33:02 pm

Hi all, I was intrigued by a post a bit further down, but didn't want to high jack the thread so started this one. I posted on the XSAN thread and got some good advice, but was interested in having Shane, Mark, Russell ...and anybody else chime in on my set-up.

Our facility has an X serve RAID. Up til now I had it all to myself (2 TB). What luxury! I placed the unit in an adjacent machine room since its "roar" was bothersome to say the least. Though the relative distance from the computer to the XRAID was just a couple of meters I opted to connect it to my Mac via a fibre optic cable.
We've recently added a second FCP station in yet another room, connecting it to the other side of the Xserve RAID via fiber optic cable. So now each FCP station has half of the dedicated XRAID. (1 TB each)

I understand now from the past thread that we wouldn't be able to work on the same project at the same time, but just the same it would be great to be able to access on anothers projects and media if the need arises (as it does for a monthly show we do where each editor edits a segment that are then strung together for the final program).

The other forum suggested the SANsp which I am looking into. I am not a computer geek so I'm not familiar with the GIGe Ethernet idea that Shane mentions. We don't have an IT department so we're hoping to find a solution that is easy ti implement. What do you all suggest for the most cost effective yet stable solution. Do I need to supply more info?

Dual 2.7 GHz G5, 4GB RAM, ATI Radeon 9650, Xserve RAID, AJA IO, 2 20" Cinema Display, FCP Studio 2 (6.02), OS X10.4.11


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Mark Raudonis
Re: 2 FCP stations on one Xserve RAID
on Apr 6, 2008 at 8:05:20 pm

Kim,

Jordan (in the X-SAN forum) told you exactly what I would have told you.

I'll just put it more bluntly. There is NO FREE LUNCH when setting up a networked workflow. This stuff is NOT easy, and it ain't cheap. You get what you pay for. And when you cheap out, you're just dooming yourself to continual frustration.

You're working with uncompressed media, therefore you need the "fattest pipes" to push around all those pixels. Gigabit ethernet probably won't be enough. Optical fibre is your friend here, and that's gonna cost you.

Check out the suggestions that Jordan made. I agree with his recommendations.

Mark






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Kim Rowley
Re: 2 FCP stations on one Xserve RAID
on Apr 6, 2008 at 9:25:19 pm

Thanks Mark. In fact I have already written to 2 companies following up on Jordan's advice. I wasn't doubting it. Actually I hadn't thought of posting here until I read the post below that I mentioned. Thanks for your reply.

Dual 2.7 GHz G5, 4GB RAM, ATI Radeon 9650, Xserve RAID, AJA IO, 2 20" Cinema Display, FCP Studio 2 (6.02), OS X10.4.11


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Russell Lasson
Re: 2 FCP stations on one Xserve RAID
on Apr 6, 2008 at 9:52:31 pm

I totally agree with Mark. Setting this stuff up isn't as easy as just installing software and connecting the computers.

I set up a four seat XSAN where I work and it took a lot of work and IT. Luckily I figured out a way to set it up where the continuing IT needs was minimal.

For your deployment you would need the following:
- Fibre switch
- XSAN for each computer
- Computer to act as a metadata controller with a fibre connection to switch

This is probably another $7000-$9000 to take it to set it up as a SAN. Plus there is the additional administration.

For me, setting up XSAN has had an amazing impact on my productivity on our projects. But it doesn't make sense to everyone.

I would suggest you really look into the different options and start figuring out what you need.

-Russ

Russell Lasson
Kaleidoscope Pictures
Provo, UT


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Shane Ross
Re: 2 FCP stations on one Xserve RAID
on Apr 6, 2008 at 10:08:06 pm

Yeah, my way is the CHEAP way, and isn't without issues. I was able to connect one computer to the XServe Raid via fibre, then share that connection over GIGe to my G5, and I was able to get 3 streams of DVCPRO HD. But I didn't test that in a real world situation. I didn't work like this day after day...so I am not sure how stable it is. In a real world production environment you don't want to temp fate and try the cheap thing only to get caught up in a mess. Get it right the first time.

I have used GIGe to share DV footage, but that was only for 3 days, and was just fiddling. No deadlines to worry about.



Shane



GETTING ORGANIZED WITH FINAL CUT PRO DVD now for sale!
http://www.LFHD.net
Read my blog!


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Russell Lasson
Re: 2 FCP stations on one Xserve RAID
on Apr 7, 2008 at 2:52:19 am

Gigabit ethernet can work for a short term solution, but like you, it really isn't suitable for a permanent solution (at least using Apple's file sharing).

But I've done it when I've needed to add an iMac to a SAN. And it worked out okay for the project.

-Russ

Russell Lasson
Kaleidoscope Pictures
Provo, UT


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Mark Raudonis
Re: 2 FCP stations on one Xserve RAID
on Apr 6, 2008 at 10:14:10 pm

[Russell Lasson] "For your deployment you would need the following:
- Fibre switch
- XSAN for each computer
- Computer to act as a metadata controller with a fibre connection to switch
"


Don't forget an "uninterruptible power supply", Ethernet switches, "back up" meta data controller, and boat loads of storage. 2 tb is hardly worth the effort of all the other equipment.

Finally, never underestimate the air conditioning required to cool all this stuff off. Many offices have "energy saver" policies that kill the AC at night when no one's around. Great. Except the heat is gonna kill your equipment if it's in a relatively small room.

A networked workflow is wonderful. I'd even go as far as saying if you're collaborating with ANYONE else, a networked workflow is ESSENTIAL these days. I'm glad the days of "sneakernet" are over. Just don't underestimate how difficult it can be to set up even a relatively small group. If you're not an ubergeek, I'd recommend paying someone to do it for you, and hold your hand throughout the initial few months. After that, if you're not a total potatoe head, you can maintain it yourself. But setting it up calls for arcane knowledge of IP protocols and DNS processes that unless you do it for a living, you'll never get right.

Good luck. There's plenty of info about X-SAN out there. Do a google search.

Mark

PS. NAB is two weeks away. I wouldn't commit to anything until after that date.



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Russell Lasson
Re: 2 FCP stations on one Xserve RAID
on Apr 7, 2008 at 2:48:53 am

[Mark Raudonis] "2 tb is hardly worth the effort of all the other equipment. "

I was going to mention that. With the cost of drives, it would be much easier to just connect a RAID0 storage to each computer and then set it up at nights to clone the drives to the other so that all of the footage was on each RAID for each computer. Kind of messy, but... whatever.

-Russ

Russell Lasson
Kaleidoscope Pictures
Provo, UT


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Kim Rowley
Re: 2 FCP stations on one Xserve RAID
on Apr 7, 2008 at 5:03:40 am

Thanks everybody.I am going into this thing carefully. It would be a big plus to be networked but I do realize that it's not an easy task. I am in fact an editor and not an IT geek. I'll heed everybody's advice (not lastly waiting til after NAB). I want to do it right (but as cost effectively as warrants for our needs). Thanks again.

Dual 2.7 GHz G5, 4GB RAM, ATI Radeon 9650, Xserve RAID, AJA IO, 2 20" Cinema Display, FCP Studio 2 (6.02), OS X10.4.11


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Graeme Nattress
Re: 2 FCP stations on one Xserve RAID
on Apr 7, 2008 at 1:11:17 pm

I'd look at Metasan. I'm running that here on two edit stations on a 3.5TB Xraid. It works well, and works easy. It is not hard to set up yourself. It's also very happy now on Leopard and the biggest advantage over Xsan is that you don't have to format your drives to a proprietary format - you can just leave them HFS+. That means, if something on the SAN did go wrong, you can go back to direct connecting your drive to a mac, and still be able to access the data direct, do any disc repairs using normal disc repair software and so on.

If you have any issues with the fibre, the LAN mode cuts in and you get access to your data over gigE, which is slow, but at least you can still access your data. And you can extend the SAN out to LAN machines over gigE also, if needed.

Quite frankly, Metasan is a mac-like SAN in all the ways that Xsan is not. I don't, for my small SAN use a metadata controller, just one of the edit suites fills that dual role, and that not only works, but saves money too on cables, hardware, switches and licences.

Best of all, as it runs on HFS+ drives without formatting them, you can get an evaluation copy to run and see what it's like if you a fibre switch and the other gear.

Graeme

- http://www.nattress.com - Film Effects and Standards Conversion for FCP


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gary adcock
Re: 2 FCP stations on one Xserve RAID
on Apr 7, 2008 at 1:15:48 pm

[Graeme Nattress] "I'd look at Metasan"

I will second that, I am running MetaSan on my office network ( mac's, pc's and one linux box)
without issues. I love that I can connect over ethernet to access the volumes from my laptop.

I too chose it over all of the other products out there.

gary adcock
Studio37
HD & Film Consultation
Post and Production Workflows
Inside look at the IoHD




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Kim Rowley
Re: 2 FCP stations on one Xserve RAID
on Apr 7, 2008 at 1:52:08 pm

OK! I'll look into the Metasan solution as well. I feel privileged to have gotten advice from some of the "top cows". Thanks to all!

Dual 2.7 GHz G5, 4GB RAM, ATI Radeon 9650, Xserve RAID, AJA IO, 2 20" Cinema Display, FCP Studio 2 (6.02), OS X10.4.11


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Matthew Nelson
Re: 2 FCP stations on one Xserve RAID
on Apr 7, 2008 at 6:21:57 pm

I've worked and managed MetaSAN and XSan systems and they each work well with FCP. I have not had the privilege to work with Editshare and their unity type sharing, which I find intriguing. MetaSAN would be my choice for small houses, ie 2-3 seats, and houses that have a heavy mix of platforms, because it is easier to set up, volume management is similar to direct attached volumes and it is much more agnostic then XSan.

For a solid MetaSAN I would have 2 GigE switches one for corp LAN one for metadata with every seat issued a static IP, a fiber switch, I use a Qlogic SANBox 5600, that's been properly zoned, a dual channel Fibre HBA for each seat, UPS's for volumes and clients/controllers, a dedicated metadata controller, and of course a copy of metasan on each seat. MetaSAN is perfectly capable of using an edit station as a controller, as is XSan, however FCP is not the most stable of Apps and it takes about 30 sec for any backup meta controller to kick in. If someone is reading or writing to the volume during this period it can cause catalog tree problems, client crashes, and/or kernal panics to cascade through your clients.

XSan is the better solution for larger mostly mac (Xsan can link with StoreNext windows clients) houses, 4+ seats or houses that foresee needing to grow. I say this because of the StoreNEXT file structure that XSan uses. Since metadata and storage are split, volume sizes, as well as bandwidth, can grow on the fly. Just add another RAID and it is absorbed into whatever volume(s) that are already running. Also the XSan volume itself, in my experience, is much more robust then MetaSAN, I have had major SAN meltdowns and when I got everything back online the volume itself was unaffected, no data corruption, no catalog errors. I have not had to fix my san volume in almost a year of nonstop uptime. Management does require a higher geek factor. XSan 1.4.x admin GUI is a joke I use command line for all San management. I am looking forward to implementing XSan 2 which promises a functional admin GUI.

A solid XSan deployment has 2 dedicated meta-controllers, a primary and a backup, zoned fibre switch(s), 2 GigE switches, a meta LUN striped RAID1 with a hot spare, storage LUNs striped RAID5 with a hot spare, a climate controlled machine room, all clients bound to open directory, dual channel fibre HBA on all clients and controllers, an XSan license on all clients and controllers, UPSs for machine room and clients, and Apple remote desktop to manage everything.

Both add more moving parts and naturally add more potential problems but despite the headaches I love having shared storage. Don't forget cabling. I use CAT6 for ethernet, copper FC cables for connections within the machine rack and optical FC for the FCP clients.

Matt



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