What's your SAN?

Hi all,

This is really a question for those working in facilities with multiple artists primarily. We’re planning on moving to a SAN setup in the future and I’m wondering what you’re using, how big it is, and how many artists it supports. Of course there are stats/specs for anything you want to buy, but I’m really interested in hearing what your experience is like with this in the real world. Any insights however technical or anecdotal are tremendously appreciated. You’re simply the greatest.


move TO a SAN? why?


I think you mean NAS? Sans are very oldschool and are kinda high maintenance and not really worth it anymore .

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Yes but also I think it really depends on the SAN you choose.

During my time at Artjail we got a Quantum SAN and also got a QNAP(I think that’s the brand), NAS.

The SAN was yes definitely expensive but if you time your purchase right and get one at the end of the fiscal quarter(| think that’s how you say it), the sales people are wanting to get some more numbers in the books and you can save an insane amount on something as expensive as a Quantum SAN.

That aside, it’s OS-file system is StoreNext and all I know(which is for sure a hell of a lot less then you or most posting about this stuff, LOL), is that thing was quite literally trouble free and we hammered the sh-t outta it as soon as it was installed.
Due to the insane amount of Phantom footage we had for a rather long Music Video going alongside a big IBM job it filled way above the ideal to over 90% and still no issues.
All the flames used a unified framestore and only metadata was moved around basically from my understanding.

Eventually we had to replace one of the drives and the replacement arrived in only a few hours max. But super caveat is that this is on NYC and at the time resellers where renting space upstairs from Artjail.

Anyways, the QNAP was a pain in the ass and was not smooth.

I’m for sure no engineer and and SANS are WAY overpriced, Lol. But my experience with the one particular SAN was not High Maintenance. Long story short that’s all I’m sayin.

I wouldn’t quite say that SANs are old school or irrelevant, just a different system design with different goals. NASs have become a lot better over the years, so and can scale and run very well.

Cost and complexity for deploying a NAS is definitely lower. But then you’re relying on underlying support of SMB shares for the most part (unless you endeavor into NFS). Quality of support depends between Win and Mac, etc. User mapping has to be taken care off, etc. Depending of your issues, different people have to be called.

I don’t have a big install I can comment on. We do use a Nexis for our Avid jobs, which is kind of an in-between design. I have my misgivings about it, but once it’s running and if you ignore the noise, then it’s a solid system. Very high price/GB in comparison though. So you better know exactly what you’re hoping to get out of it.

Have you talked to Malcolm Sweeny? He helped/did NAS/SAN upgrades at both Redlab and Artjail TO in the last year or so.

i just have see most facillities move from san to nas in the last 10 years or so as it always becomes a nightmare down the road.

I’ve used a Quantum StorNext SAN and it was fantastic.

You should check out some SDS solutions too.

We ended up with PixStor which is excellent and was definitely a lot cheaper than the Quantum offering. No complaints with that so far.

Quobyte would be another option for SDS which I would also highly recommend investigating. It also has native clients for Mac, Linux & Windows.

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Wow! Thanks so much for all the great insight from all of you. I guess I’ve always put SAN’s in the bucket of expensive, yes… but realtime playback and you can use it as your primary storage. Whereas I’ve always thought of NAS solutions as big network storage that is great to house a lot of data but certainly couldn’t be relied upon for playback.. Am I outdated in this viewpoint? Are any of you using a NAS as your primary storage for multiple artists and getting problem-free realtime playback?

What kind of projects are you working on longform/shortform? Do your systems already have local stones/direct attached storage? How much throughput do you need for playback? 4K, 6K, 8K, etc? Are you working with ProRes or DPX / EXR?

In the past when I worked on longform we had a storenext fibre channel SAN. I ran it for 4 years with no issues. Even had a power-outage while running a lustre session and didn’t have issues.

Since switching to working on commercials, I’ve switched to QNAP 10G NAS’ and have had great results, however, this has been used in combination of working with local fast NVME storage for playback

Almost all commercials on my end. We have local storage in each system at the moment, but the hope was to transition to a centralized model where we could all share a big pool. At times we work at 4k, 6k, whatever. We set our projects up as ProRes, but of course our source material can be .exr, Arri Raw, r3d, whatever.

I’m trying to avoid maintaing individual islands of storage alongside a big centralized system. Am I fooling myself?

I think is largely driven by one aspect - a SAN is a dedicated storage network, which operates in parallel to your office network (LAN). If your office LAN is of similar capacity and speed, you may end up with comparable results, or close there too, assuming it’s not competing with too much other existing traffic already on your office network such as remote sessions etc.

The reality is that many office networks aren’t consistently of that same high speed hardware and do have a lot of other things going on. You could offset that with setting up a second high-performance physical subnet just for connections to the NAS as long as all your systems have two Ethernet adapters.

That is to say, with enough effort you can probably build a NAS for less that comes pretty close, but it will still be more expensive than just dropping in your average NAS into the office environment.

A lot of the cost of SANs comes from maintaining a separate high performance network (interface cards, switches, etc. usually all optical) and not as much the core disk capacity. It also offers a lot more options for redundancies if that is of value.

And a NAS has more overhead on the central units as it serves up files, while a SAN serves up block level data (comparable to a bare drive) and the host has to manage the filesystem. That reduces a processing bottleneck.

One advantage of a NAS is that you can take any generic system, any operating system and immediately connect it to a NAS by just mounting the file system. With a SAN you need additional hardware and software to make that happen. That can reduce flexibility in a dynamic setting.

Here’s a pretty good summary on SANs (also a section further down talking about SAN vs. NAS).

In reading your latest post and your goal, I think a properly engineered NAS will be better. But I would work with an IT professional that has experience with Flame setups to work out the details.

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You should watch my YouTube channel. It already has all the answers you need.


@ALan is there a video in particular you were thinking of? If I search your channel for SAN I’m wading knee deep in some surfer content. :slight_smile: Thanks for making all of these great Flame videos! There’s great insight and knowledge here.