Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Ethernet SAN Primer

Ethernet SAN Primer: "
Ok, I got a bunch of emails today 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.
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.
And of course if you have any more questions on how to set up and install one of these, you definitely want to call on the experts at Small Tree Communications.

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