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NAS or SAN storage solution?
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TOPIC: NAS or SAN storage solution?

NAS or SAN storage solution? 6 years, 7 months ago #22723

OK we are now at a point where our tiny church edit facility has grown to three rooms with a total of 6 macs running FCP 7. We have a general server that we use to "swap" projects around but now I'm ready for the next level. I think we need a central media hub for our church. One that stores all of our video files and is fast enough to edit directly from the drives without having to copy from the central hub. I just looked at "Editshare" but I honestly don't really know what I'm looking at. So how do you guys do it with a multi-room setup? Should I be looking at a standard Network-Attached-Storage system? My budget for this project would be around $10,000. Is this doable or am I not even in the ballpark. Should we just build a separate network (one that is not shared with 40 other PCs running office software) that is dedicated to our edit suites? If 10k won't get me there what do I need? 100k? We average 2-3 projects a week...all shot in HDV then edited using ProRes 422 (HQ) in FCP. Each project is around 2-3 minutes in length though several times a year we do 2-hour features. I should also mention that our Mac Pros currently have no open slots because they are full of either Matrox or Black Magic cards. Have I provided enough info? I'm trying to be thorough. I'm not really looking for a detailed setup guide as we will need to tailor a solution to our site. I just need someone to point me in the right direction and maybe help me ask the right questions. Thanks in advance...you guys are geniuses...really.

Re: NAS or SAN storage solution? 6 years, 6 months ago #22728

  • Chealion
  • Producer
  • Posts: 47
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I'll try and give you a concise starting answer here but at the end of the day you'll want to start looking at getting a consultant in of some kind to help get you set up with an appropriate system. All said, once you go shared storage (NAS or SAN) you never really want to go back.


Just for clarification; a NAS and a SAN are very different beasts but conceptually almost identical for video.

A NAS being just some storage attached to your network and is served using a controlling computer and network protocols (eg. AFP, SMB, NFS). EditShare, Isilon's products, the Drobo Pro are all technically NASes instead of SAN products.

A SAN is a dedicated network to talk to the storage arrays using Fibre Channel, iSCSI and other block level communication. There isn't any other traffic on that network. They also tend to be much more expensive as they're definitely more enterprise friendly. (Examples you might see; Xsan/NextStor, EMC, NetApp)


The first thing you want to find out is just how much bandwidth you would require in order for a system to stand up to your needs.

Both the disk array and the network need to be able to handle at least 6 streams of ProRes HQ (220 Mbps (27.5 MB per second) a piece so 1320 Mbps or 165 MB per second). Again, that's only one stream to each computer, if they want to be able to do more you'll need more bandwidth.

As for the actual network connections; Fibre is available in 4 and 8 Gbps (300 MB and 600 MB per second realistically) options, while ethernet is available in 1 and 10 Gbps. (60-80 MB and 600-800 MB per second realistically) Both Fibre and the 10Gbps Ethernet will require an extra ($700-$1500) card in your Mac Pros.

You'll need a large enough connection away from the array(s)/server to handle all the bandwidth but on each of the stations it only has to be large enough to accept what it requires. I have seen a couple systems with a 10GBps cable from the NAS to an ethernet switch and then several computers hooked up using regular Ethernet (it's one of the listed examples in the EditShare manual)

It's advisable to separate the general network from the storage network to avoid any performance hiccups but depending on the level of traffic may not be an issue.


Next is to determine how much footage you want to be able to keep on your system. My back of a napkin calculations would guesstimate that (without offloading or archiving footage) you'll need at the bare minimum 1-2 TB just for the footage that is actually used - not including any footage not used, graphics, sound, compressions, etc. My realistic guess then would be at least 8 TB of space to handle at least a years worth of work. (I'd suspect you'd use that space up faster than you'd think possible, so 12-16 is a more likely per year usage).

These numbers also assume your volume won't grow.

You can check out tools like www.digitalrebellion.com/webapps/video_calc.html to check how much space you might need.


Next would be the software to assist accessing the footage; if it's a Fibre or even some Ethernet based systems require software to play "traffic cop" to say who is allowed to write to a certain hard drive (getting two computers trying to write to the same spot just is messy). With a NAS the host controller/computer that is actually hooked up to the drives handles this.

Some like EditShare, Xsan/NextStor allow you to read/write to any drive while others like FibreJet or MetaSAN only allow one user to write to the drive at a time. The one person writing has less overhead but requires more planning.


Next would be backup, archiving and long term storage.

The RAID array will protect you from a disk failing but not from someone accidentally erasing a file or a preschooler setting the building on fire.

Backing up the footage is a whole extra ball of wax - whether you want to do it incrementally, as it comes on, with tape or with disk.

Since you're shooting HDV the tape works as an excellent longer term archive for the original footage - but you'll still want to have some kind of backup system for the project files, graphics and other files.

Check out Archiving for Indies from Silverado Systems. Will save you a ton of time researching. silverado.cc/shop/pages.php?pageid=30 (Pay with a tweet or Facebook message)


Other resources; Michael Kammes just started a set of blog posts about just this thing. So far 2 out of 3 have shown up.


Re: NAS or SAN storage solution? 4 years ago #23308

  • Lawrie
  • Production Assistant
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Did you ever get your suites configured the way you needed? We are looking for a solution to link 2 edit suites together to share media and are having little luck. Still running FCP 7.0.3 on 2 Quad Core Intel Mac Pros running OS 10.7.5. The suites are side by side and we want to share media and projects as we did when our XSAN was up and running beautifully on fibre.
Any helpful insight would indeed be helpful.
Lawrie (at the U of C)
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