From SAN to NAS: Your at a glance guide to storage

From SAN to NAS: Your at a glance guide to storage

Don’t know your SAN from your NAS? This quick guide will run you through the ten most common types of storage, from internal and external hard drives, to storage area network and network-attached storage, by way of solid state drives (SSDs), magnetic tape storage and RAID… 

Internal hard drives

Certainly the most common form of data storage is an internal hard drive – if you’re purchasing a ready-made notebook or workstation, it’ll generally already come included. They allow you to store files in a single computer, and come in the form of a traditional spinning disk hard drive, or more efficient solid state drive (SSD).

Pros: The convenience of internal hard drives is a major plus point, as they usually come bundled in with your new computer. They’re great for use with a single computer, but given proper support, can also be shared among multiple machines.

Cons: Limited capacity is a drawback, as is the fact that without special support, you’re confined to a single computer or server.

 

External hard drives

As well as internal hard drives, if you’re saving large files, you’re probably familiar with external hard drives. These are used throughout creative and business environments for local backup and archiving of data, and are usually small enough to sit happily on your desk.

Pros: The main upside of external hard drives is that they can be moved around multiple computers and users in your studio or office.

Cons: Just as with internal hard drives, external hard drives can be hamstrung by limited capacity. It can also be incredibly awkward to physically transfer data among multiple computers using external hard drives.

 

Solid state drives (SSDs)

As mentioned above, solid state storage can come in the form of an internal hard drive that ships with your Mac or other workstation, or as external hard drives. The external, portable variety are used for everyday simple file swapping and local data transfer, and larger capacity drives are often used for more heavy duty work like video processing, relational databases and high-speed data acquisition, either as an internal or external drive.

Pros: The main advantage of solid state storage is that, unlike your traditional spinning disk hard drive, they have no moving parts, which generally means there are fewer components which could potentially fail. They also have high read/write speeds, and the portable, external variety have a small form factor which makes them incredibly portable or chuck-in-your-laptop-bag-able.

Cons: On the downside, solid state storage has limited storage capacity, with many mobile drives topping out at around 1 or 2TB, and cost more than hard drives.

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Storage area network (SAN)

If you’re working with large databases, bandwidth-hungry and mission-critical applications, the above options are not the drives you are looking for. Storage area network (SAN) is a cover-all term for a network that gives multiple users block level access (as opposed to file level) to multiple storage devices and arrays, accessible to servers so that the devices appear to the operating system as locally attached devices. SANs are widely used by enterprises working with large amounts of data and apps.

Pros: The main reason you’d want to go for SAN is for consolidated block storage. SAN is also exceptionally reliable, widely available, very tolerant of faults, and super scalable, so you can expand on your SAN as your business grows.

Cons: One minus point with SAN is its high cost, which can be prohibitive to smaller businesses. Traditionally you’d also require a dedicated network, separate from the network supporting desktops. Managing SAN can be quite complex too, which could cause a few headaches.

 

Fibre Channel

Fibre Channel is a type of SAN used to connect shared storage to servers. Its high speed means it can often be found in datacentres and offsite storage dealing with large databases, bandwidth-intensive and mission-critical applications.

Pros: Fibre Channel lets you transmit data between devices at super-fast gigabit speeds (often at 1, 2, 4, 8 and 16 gigabit per second rates).

Cons: As it is a SAN though, it can be prohibitively expensive, and complex to manage.

 

iSCSI storage

Another type of SAN, iSCSI (or Internet Small Computer Systems Interface, if you’re not in a hurry), is a standard that provides block-level access to storage devices over an Ethernet network. As with Fibre Channel, it’s used for linking data storage facilities, SANs, for offsite storage and mission-critical applications.

Pros: iSCSI lets you transmit data between devices using existing network infrastructure, rather than dedicated cabling, so you can run it over long distances.

Cons: Although, it doesn’t compare as favourably with Fibre Channel when it comes to large database transfers, and is also equally complex to manage.

 

Network-attached storage (NAS)

Used for data storage and file stores, a NAS is effectively a file server often built as a computer appliance (a purpose-built specialised computer), and tends to be managed remotely, usually by a web-based GUI. The device provides access to storage at file level, rather than at a block level like SAN, using a variety of protocols, such as NFS, SMB/CIFS, and AFP. It provides local area network (LAN) nodes with file-based shared storage through your standard Ethernet connection, giving multiple clients on the network access to the same files.

Pros: NAS is great as it gives fast file access it multiple clients, it’s easy to share data, has high storage capacity, is easy to mirror drives, and lets you consolidate all your resources in one place. Redundancy, backing up copies of files, also means you’re protected against data loss in the event of a disk failure.

Cons: It is, however, less convenient than a storage area network (SAN) for moving large blocks of data.

 

D2D2T storage

Disk-to-disk-to-tape (D2D2T) is a backup and archiving system in which, as you may have guessed, data is first copied to backup storage on a disk storage system, then periodically copied again to a tape storage system. It’s often used for incremental backups of data, storage virtualisation, offsite storage and data archiving.

Pros: Upsides are redundancy (which safeguards against data loss), a high read/write speed for quick data transfer, and high capacity (use multiple tapes to your heart’s content).

Cons: The only problem with D2D2T storage is that it’s complex to manage.

Magnetic tape

A tape drive is a data storage device that reads and writes data on a magnetic tape. You’ll generally find these used for data archiving and offline storage, and are much favoured by the budget-conscious business.

Pros: The main thing tape storage has going for it is its low cost per megabyte. They’re also a fairly portable form of data storage, plus you get unlimited capacity, as you can always add more tapes.

Cons: However, tapes make it inconvenient to quickly recover individual files or groups of files, and you may have to buy quite expensive housing if you have lots of tape.

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RAID storage

A redundant array of independent disks (thankfully known more widely by the acronym RAID) is simply a method of combining multiple physical disks into a single unit for performance and/or reliability, and is used in pretty much every SAN, NAS and DAS array. RAID lets you easily swap files, and gives ‘data redundancy’, which essentially means you don’t lose data if a single disk fails, and lets you correct errors to protect against data loss.

Pros: RAID is high speed, high capacity, high data availability storage that’s reliable, secure and gives you fault tolerance in the face of disk failure (ie peace of mind).

Cons: RAID users may unfortunately develop a false sense of security though, with recovery from failure difficult in some systems. And if you’re looking at a high-end optimum system, be prepared for a high price tag.

 

Want to know more about storage solutions? Give us a call on 03332 409 306, email sales@Jigsaw24.com. or pop your details in the form below. For all the latest news and reviews, follow us on Twitter @WeAreJigsaw24 and ‘like’ us on Facebook.

We’ve teamed up with Rohde & Schwarz

We’ve teamed up with Rohde & Schwarz

We’ve teamed up with the good people at Rohde & Schwarz to become their latest UK reseller. We can now officially offer you their award-winning Clipster and Venice solutions, plus their Spycer and DVS-SAN storage range.

Rohde & Schwarz’s solutions have been a leading light in the broadcast and post space for the last 30 years, so we’re obviously pleased to be adding them to our lineup. And hey, it just so happens that their products dovetail perfectly with our expertise in storage and post workflows. Happy times.

So what are we selling? 

We’re going to be supplying the Clipster mastering station, which centralises your DI workflow, and the Venice ingest server. We’ll also be supplying SpycerBox Cell and Flex storage, which scales into their DVS-SAN storage solution.

Clipster

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Clipster is Rohde & Schwarz’s world leading mastering solution, designed to let post houses consolidate their DI workflow into a single system while retaining the ability to capture and master across a range of digital distribution formats (supported formats include RAW camera files, IMF, AS-02 and DCI cinema projects, including 3D). Clipster can also conform and edit uncompressed 4K data in realtime.

With Clipster, you can rely on one box to capture any video format, process any video data in realtime, conform and edit RAW data, perform scaling and colour correction, correct geometry and colour misalignments in stereoscopic footage, version your project to a range of  formats (including standards like AS-02 and IMF) and perform stereoscopic DCI mastering.

See the full spec sheet here.

Venice

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The Venice ingest and playout server is designed to act as the hub of any media production, allowing you to combine different formats like SD, 720p, 1080i, and 1080p in one production workflow, as well as supporting a range of codecs and formats. As Rohde & Schwarz explain, “Studio program signals, live feed or tapes, and generic video files or file transfer are captured in all typical broadcast codecs (XDCAM, AVC-Ultra codec group, DNxHD, Apple ProRes, etc.) directly without any transcoding in one single system. The material is available to all connected editing clients for immediate processing. Direct capturing in proprietary production storage is accelerated with the edit-while-ingest functionality.”

See the spec sheet here.

Spycer

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We’re not technically selling this, but only because it’s software that comes free with any Spycer-driven storage solutions (more on them in a moment). Effectively a gratis asset management system, Spycer connects your storage volumes and allows you to search for and preview your media, add metadata to files, copy and check files – you can even search external drives while they’re disconnected.

Spycer even lets you process RAW files quickly and efficiently. DVS’s data manager can easily find, view, convert, and edit data shot with cameras from RED, ARRI, Phantom or the Silicon Imaging camera. Spycer may also be used to visualise 3D LUTs.

SpycerBox Cell and Flex

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SpycerBox Cell and Flex are Rohde & Schwarz’s solutions for online and nearline storage. The Cell is a 1U unit that packs in 30 SATA, SAS or SSD disks to deliver hyperfast, dense online storage. It’s available with Fibre Channel or Ethernet connectivity and supports NFS and SMB volumes. SpycerBox Cell’s compact form factor and 3GBps performance per chassis make it ideal for high-resolution, high-IOP workflows.

Find out more about SpycerBox Cell.

SpycerBox Flex is a is a highly scalable and flexible online and nearline storage solution. Like Cell, it offers SSD, SATA and SAS drive options and Fibre Channel or Ethernet connectivity. It also continues Rohde & Schwarz’s penchant for high density storage, with a single SpycerBox holding as much as 96TB of data in RAID5.

As well as featuring the Spycer asset management system, Flex includes DVS SAN REMO management system for monitoring, building and servicing your storage, and can be used in SAN or NAS configurations, or even as a combination of the two. A built-in schedule manager allows you to automate backups, and Spycer can be integrated with your existing LTO solution to simplify archiving.

See the full spec sheet.

DVS-SAN

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DVS-SAN consolidates Spycer storage into a scalable, high capacity SAN solution capable of handling hundreds of connected clients. DVS-SAN is optimised for file sequences like DPX or OpenEXR, and can handle multiple realtime streams of uncompressed RGB 4:4:4 10/12/16 bit video files in levels scalable from 600 MBps to more than 10 GBps.

The DVS-SAN’s modular architecture means you can add storage clusters to achieve even higher data rates and a larger number of parallel video streams – and DVS’s systems are designed to hit these speeds continuously, not in short peaks. As with other solutions, your DVS-SAN can have Fibre or Ethernet connectivity, and can be mirrored or RAID 5/6, and DVS reckon your DVS-SAN should take up 25% less space in your server room than your existing SAN solution.

Find out more about DVS-SAN.

Want to know more? Give us a call on 03332 409 306 or email broadcast@Jigsaw24.com. For all the latest news, follow @Jigsaw24Video on Twitter or ‘Like’ us on Facebook.

Adobe, Avid and Xsan

Adobe, Avid and Xsan

If you’re a former Final Cut devotee thinking of making the move to Media Composer or Premiere Pro, the prospect of giving up your Xsan and losing all that lovely shared storage might seem a bit daunting. However, all is not lost: there are some surprisingly simple ways to work around this, and keep the functionality of your Xsan intact.

The surprisingly simple bit

Premiere Pro works with Xsan. No, really. Granted, you may have to make some tweaks to your workflow – some users find it works better if you ensure that your project lives on the SAN, with your working media caches being set to ‘same as project’ so that you can carry the same preferences between workstations and editors, but generally speaking, you can keep your Xsan setup as is, especially if you’re using Premiere Pro on Macs, too.

The Avid option

Sadly, working things out with Media Composer is less easy. If you’re feeling flush, one option is to rip out your Xsan and replace it with one of the Avid equivalents – ISIS 5000 will stand in just fine for a standard SAN setup, or you can upgrade to Unity MediaNetwork hardware if you need truly simultaneous sharing of assets between users and platforms. There are plenty of advantages to moving to ISIS or Unity – the combination of AVID hardware and software should ensure reliability and they’re both certified by AVID, so you can be sure of a certain level of support.

The third way…

However, there is another way. Earlier this year, Tiger Technology and FilmPartners teamed up to offer a new, universal SAN management system for FCP, Premiere Pro and Media Composer.

MXFServer has been around for a while as a project management tool. It lets you store metadata and media in universal MXF containers that are then accessed through different ‘abstraction layers’ based on which editing application you’re using. This allows multiple users to access footage in QuickTime or any native MXF file format instantly, and use MXFServer’s bin-locking options to work collaboratively or individually on the project without needing to transcode anything.

Tiger Technology have now made everything that bit easier by developing an API that will allow MXFServer to interact directly with metaSAN. The result is a flexible system that allows for high speed, scalable shared storage to be managed effectively, with metaSAN handing the fine detail at file level while MXFServer takes care of your edit-in-place demands.

The flexibility of this system is fantastic, and makes it a great choice for anyone who needs to collaborate with third parties who may use different system, but it’s not certified by Avid or Adobe.

Wondering which is right for you? Give our consultants a call on 03332 409 306, email broadcast@Jigsaw24.com or head over to Jigsaw24.com to see our full broadcast range.