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Not all storage is created equal, and nothing is more important than the reliability of your data. Whether you need to support multiple 4K/8K uncompressed streams for your DI theatres or a production NAS capable of storing terabytes of dallies assets, ColorScene has you covered. We represent some of the most advanced storage systems available, and will custom build a solution that works for you. Whether you’re looking for a SAN, a NAS, a LTO/LTFS appliance or any other storage system, we will find the best solution to meet your needs at a price few can beat.

Storage Area Networks

SAN's have been the jewel for many a high-end facility company since the introduction of the CentraVision File System in the late 1990's. Storage Area Networks (SAN) are specialized, high-speed and low-latency networks that provide block-level access directly to storage devices. SAN's became the gold standard for video asset storage due to improve availability via native multi-pathing, enhanced performance via separating file data from metadata, and increased storage utilization and effectiveness by consolidating all storage devices under a common namespace.

SANs are commonly based on Fibre Channel (FC) technology that utilizes 16/32Gb fiber connections. Fibre Channel must not be confused with high-speed fiber based ethernet networks such as 10/40/100Gb Ethernet. Fibre Channel uses a technologically different transport protocol that is not compatible with standard high-speed ethernet switches. As such SAN's require the added expense of Fibre Channel based switches and PCIe Interface Cards.

In the past, SAN's have often been thought of as expensive and difficult to setup/manage. However with recent advances in technology from our SAN vendors, and due to the recent market trends, we have been able to install extremely high performance systems that are easy to maintain and are priced very reasonably. You will be surprised at the low cost of todays high performance SAN's...

Network Attached Storage

NAS systems are the new kids on the block. While network storage and file sharing is nothing new, it has only been since the inception and wide spread availability of 10/40gb ethernet that has made these systems viable for video production storage. That is outside of some very specific early use cases, such as AVID Asset Storage.

Network-attached storage (NAS) is a file-level storage server connected to an ethernet-based network providing data access to a heterogeneous group of clients. NAS systems are generally specialized for serving files and are often manufactured as a computer appliance – a purpose-built specialized system, without the ability to run standard applications outside those for sharing and configuring the storage. Network-attached storage removes the responsibility of file serving from other servers on the network, while typically providing access to files using standard network file sharing protocols such as NFS, SMB/CIFS, or AFP.

Many of the latest developments in NAS systems are based around the use of the ZFS or Zettabyte File System. ZFS was originally developed by Oracle as a means to support over a Zettabyte (A billion Terabytes) of information within a single file-system, something well outside the ability of all file-systems at the time. ZFS is unusual, because unlike most other storage systems, it unifies both the volume manager, which is the physical management of block devices such as hard drives and raid controllers, and the file system which manages the files stored as logical units on these block devices. Therefore, it has complete knowledge of both the physical disks, this includes their condition, status, their logical arrangement into volumes, and also of all the files stored on them. ZFS is designed to ensure that data stored on disks cannot be lost due to physical error or misprocessing by the hardware or operating system, or bit rot events and data corruption which may happen over time. With its complete control of the storage system ZFS can ensure that every step, whether related to file management or disk management, is verified, confirmed, corrected if needed, and optimized, in a way that other storage systems cannot match.

Now you might be thinking, with all the things ZFS does, why should I bother installing a SAN over a ZFS system... Unfortunately all ZFS systems have an Achilles heel, that is they are limited by the use of the standard network file sharing protocols which are not designed to support the level of bandwidth and latency demanded by video applications. We can overcome this to an extent by over provisioning the network to use 10Gb or even 40Gb, but at the end of the day it is very difficult to guarantee the quality of service provided by a SAN solution.

What storage is best for me?

By now you might be thinking: What are NAS systems good for? ZFS based NAS systems generally excel in augmenting a facilities primary storage pool. They can be built with a much lower price per TB than a similar SAN solution, while still allowing for much greater performance than most other systems. They are particularly useful in a dailies workflow which relies on holding many TB of RAW camera assets throughout the stages of Post-Production. Storage expansion happens within minutes, not hours or days. They provide much faster access than LTO, while ZFS is built to be as reliable, if not more reliable than tape. It can be used as a facilities primary storage when the budget does not allow for a SAN solution, and are very happy working on Camera RAW, compressed 4K and some uncompressed 2K/4K files.

If you primarily work with uncompressed images sequences, such as DPX or EXR and in DI or Finishing environment, a SAN may be the best choice. SANs are still the best way to provide guaranteed performance and latency to each client. SAN's are also inherently more secure as have to have direct connection to the Fibre Channel network before you can access the files, and due to the propriety nature of the filesystem, there are essentially few venerability's available to attackers. SAN's can also provide dual-active failover in the event of a hardware fault on the MDC, storage array, Fibre Channel switch or interface card. SAN's are still the best choice for the most demanding applications that require both guaranteed performance, availability and security.

ColorScene is a full-service Quantum Stornext reseller and systems integrator for ZFS based NAS systems. Please contact us to design the perfect Storage System to meet your needs.

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