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Ethernet SAN Primer

COW Blogs : walter biscardi's Blog : Ethernet SAN Primer
Ok, I got a bunch of emails yesterday asking to explain exactly how an Ethernet SAN works. I've done a full article on this in the past, but here's a quick primer on how it works.

1 - The SAN controller computer. In our case, a Mac Pro 12 Core machine with 32GB RAM.

2 - An Ethernet controller inside the SAN controller computer. In our case it's a Small Tree Communications Card.

3 - A RAID Host controller inside the SAN controller computer. In our case it's the Atto R680 SAS Host controller.

4 - A high speed ethernet switch. In our case, a Small Tree 24 port ethernet switch.

5 - A high speed media array. In our case, a brand spankin' new Small Tree 48TB ST RAID II. 16 drive chassis with 3TB drives.

6 - Client computers connected to the ethernet switch via Cat 5 / 6 cable. Mac Pro, iMac, Mac Mini, Laptops, anything with an ethernet port.

So in a nutshell, the high speed RAID connects directly to the SAN Controller computer.

The SAN Controller computer connects to the Ethernet Switch.

The Client computers connect to the Ethernet Switch.

Set up the Network settings correctly on the SAN Controller Computer and all Client computers.

Set up the File Sharing correctly on the SAN Controller Computer and all the Client computers.

Go into the Mac OS on the SAN Controller Computer and all the Client Computers and tune the heck out of them.

That's it in a nutshell. Mount the SAN to each client and start working.

There is zero control software needed to run the SAN. Just set it up, tweak it and start editing. Of course I'm not going to get 500MB/s to each client workstation like you might with Fibre Channel, but we get well over 100MB/s to each workstation allowing us to cut and view Apple ProRes HD files all day long across 14 workstations simultaneously.

Here's a diagram of what the system looks like in our shop. In our case, we've decided to keep one of the original 16TB Expansion chassis from our original SAN so we can use it as a direct connect to our Resolve system for RED / Alexa playback and to use as a "dump drive" for the big SAN when needed to clean up the RAID.

Posted by: walter biscardi on Jun 7, 2011 at 4:30:57 amComments (2) storage, video editing


Re: Ethernet SAN Primer
by walter biscardi
No clue really. We don't see anything like that and on any given day we can have 1 to 12 computers accessing the SAN for any number of tasks. Never see an "offline file."

Nothing like that with Premiere either quite honestly.

Walter Biscardi, Jr.
Editor, Colorist, Director, Writer, Consultant, Author, Chef.
HD Post and Production
Biscardi Creative Media

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Re: Blog: Ethernet SAN Primer
by carl byington
Well, we have much the same architecture, but the SAN controller is Linux/Fedora15 exporting via both NFS and SMB, running raid5 over 4x3TB drives for about 8.5TB total storage. The network is all 1G ethernet. We are trying to run a single FCP machine with the media on the nfs server.

Mac OS mounts the share (either nfs or smb), and can read/write to it. But we get intermittent cases where FCP claims some of the media files are offline, and they need to be continually reconnected. How does FCP decide that a file is 'offline', and why would it work one day, and the same project file opened from the same workstation another day claim some of the media is now offline?

This happens over both smb and nfs.

Professional Video Editor, Producer, Creative Director, Director since 1990.

Credits include multiple Emmys, Tellys, Aurora and CableAce Awards.

Creative Director for Georgia-Pacific and GP Studios, Atlanta. Former Owner / Operator of Biscardi Creative Media. The show you knew us best for was "Good Eats" on the Food Network. I developed the HD Post workflow and we also created all the animations for the series.

Favorite pastime is cooking with pizza on the grill one of my specialties. Each Christmas Eve we serve the Feast of the Seven Fishes, a traditional Italian seafood meal with approx. 30 items on the menu.

If I wasn't in video production I would either own a restaurant or a movie theater.



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