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Clustered/Load Balanced File Sharing on Top of XSAN

3177 Views 6 Replies Latest reply: May 29, 2008 8:23 PM by A. Richards RSS
pkraft Calculating status...
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Apr 30, 2008 9:10 AM
I want to create a high bandwidth network attached storage array by using multiple xserve computers connected to a single SAN using XSAN. My hope is to offer high performance access to this array via ethernet to non-xsan clients by clustering the file sharing service on the NAS nodes.

I do not see any references to file sharing clustering in the Mas OS X Server documentation but I was hoping to find a way to make this work. Samba has a clustering component that may work on OS X.

I can imagine issues with file locking mechanism conflicts between the clustered file sharing service and the clustered file system of the XSAN.

Has anyone ever heard of a configuration like this? I appreciate any input that you may have regarding this.

Also, if anyone is interested, we are attempting to extend video editing capabilities to 10 Final Cut Pro workstations without the need to build out a Fibre Channel infrastructure. It may be a pipedream without the use of a proprietary clustered NAS solution.

  • Mark Raudonis Level 1 Level 1 (70 points)
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    Apr 30, 2008 10:28 PM (in response to pkraft)

    I don't quite understand the first part of your question, but I can address the second part (FCP stations accessing via AFP).

    It can be done, but your results really depend on what kind of bandwidth you're pulling. In our case, we intentionally worked at "off-line rt", an extremely low bandwidth codec. We were able to support nearly 24 clients all working off of the same pool of media. All of these clients were funneled through two X-Serves that were attached as clients via fibre to the main storage pool. As you scale up the quality to DV or even better, the bandwidth will prevent this "trick" from working very well. You'll get dropped frames, the SBBD, and possibly even crash your ethernet network.

    So, if you're goal is to avoid fibre, perhaps you should take a look at some of the other "specialized" gig e based solutions that are out there. By the way, a NAS is usually NOT recommended for sharing of video files for editing.

    X-SAN, Mac OS X (10.5.2)
  • William Lloyd Level 6 Level 6 (19,220 points)
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    May 1, 2008 7:22 PM (in response to pkraft)

    NAS is a poor solution for online editing.


    The issue is that TCP/IP just has no regard to latency. It cares about reliability, but housekeeping and a whole lot of things can get in the way. And throwing 5 NAS heads at a problem to let you do DV25 to 15 edit stations is farcical. Really, that's horrible. Basically it's a "throw good money after bad" type solution -- something a company like Isilon would push.

    What specifically is the problem with building out a fibre channel infrastructure? If you're looking at using 3 or 4 Xserves as NAS heads, and connecting them to Xserve FC storage on the back end, it's really not going to be that much more money to just throw FC cards in the edit stations and go fibre end to end. And the latency will be fine; heck if you had 2 Promise RAID boxes on the back end with 2 Xserves, you'd have plenty of performance to do a couple DV25 streams to each workstation, with almost no chance of dropping a frame anywhere, ever.
    8-Core Mac Pro, Mac OS X (10.5.2)
  • Mark Raudonis Level 1 Level 1 (70 points)
    Currently Being Moderated
    May 1, 2008 8:23 PM (in response to pkraft)

    I should probably add that these "gig E" attached clients are in ADDITION to the 60+ fibre channel attached clients that we have. We've already got the bandwidth and connectivity for "true editing", and we were looking for access for producers, story editors, music dept. etc. These folks aren't really "editing", just looking, so we felt that they didn't need the fibre connection. However, as we transition to HD, and get away from the classic "off-line to on-line" workflow, it becomes harder to do this kind of access.

    I agree with Mr. Loyd here. Bite the bullet and get fibre.

    X-SAN, Mac OS X (10.5.2)
  • A. Richards Level 3 Level 3 (625 points)
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    May 29, 2008 8:23 PM (in response to pkraft)
    Too bad Apple doesn't offer the full feature set of StorNext 3 in Xsan 2. All the other platforms can use Distributed LAN Client when they connect to a StorNext SAN with Quantum's client. Apple needs to support this feature in Xsan, but who knows if it is in the pipeline. I'm lobbying them for it, but that and $1.50 will buy you a bottle of Coke.


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