In a recent article here on the DVT blog , we took an in-depth look at the technology and best practices for storing data over the course of a filmmaking project. From production itself all the way through to post, proper storage is absolutely critical and can provide a final layer of defence in the event of files being misplaced or corrupted. While important at every step of the process, proper data management procedures really become essential during post-production, where there are often multiple people working with the data in order to piece the final product together.
In part one of this series, we introduced two ways of storing and accessing all of this data – direct-attached storage (DAS) and network-attached storage (NAS). In this article, we'll take a closer look at both of these options, as well as an interesting alternative that combines the best characteristics of each.
DAS systems are perfect when only one workstation will be used for editing, grading and other post processes.
Direct-attached storage (DAS)
The first option for securing and accessing data is direct-attached storage, which refers to all drives, disks or RAID arrays that connect directly to a computer. Regardless of the type of DAS being used, there are a few significant benefits associated with being directly connected, with the most important of these being speed. This is due to the fact that DAS systems transfer files at 'block level,' allowing for direct access without having to go through a network.
DAS systems are also cheaper than alternatives such as NAS, which combined with their speed makes them perfect for lower budget scenarios where only one workstation will be used for editing, grading and other post processes. For example, a low-budget feature may be edited and graded by the same person, without the data having to be transferred to any other computer.
Where direct-attached storage falls down, however, is on bigger projects where multiple people need to work with the same data. It's simply not feasible to be constantly shuttling drives back and forth, and attempting to do so can easily result in a damaged file or the deletion of a critical piece of data. So, when shareability and scalability are key concerns, it's always best to turn to network-attached storage.
Network-attached storage (NAS)
Unlike DAS, network-attached storage is accessible over multiple workstations, as long as they are all connected to the same network. Essentially, the setup is a RAID 5 or 6 array that connects directly to a server. ComputerWeekly defines the process very simply as "providing connectivity to the virtual server through a TCP/IP connection, and storage access is provided at the file level."
This setup provides a wealth of benefits in environments such as post-production facilities, allowing anybody working on a project to access the same files. In turn, this ensures everybody is working with the same material, which vastly limits the potential for things to go wrong. NAS is also scalable, and the system can be upgraded as needed to accommodate more workstations.
DAS systems are very fast but can't be easily shared between computers. NAS systems are very easily shared but can be much slower.
Of course, this increased functionality does come at a cost, with NAS systems being much more expensive to purchase and install than their direct-attached cousins. Over the long run, however, this initial investment can be incredibly cost effective, and the improved functionality more than balances out the setup expenses. A more serious issue with NAS is congestion, which can make working with files very slow when multiple workstation attempt to access shared files at the same time.
So, DAS systems are very fast but can't be easily shared between computers. NAS systems, on the other hand, are very easily shared but can be much slower. If only there were a way to get the best of both worlds…
Storage Area Networks (SAN)
There is! Defined by Seagate as "a dedicated, high-performance storage system that transfers block-level data between servers and storage devices," an SAN offers incredible speed, shareability and versatility. For all of these reasons, storage area networks are the data management system of choice in situations where there's no room for error, and that includes professional video production and big-budget filmmaking.
Storage area network systems effectively allow for each computer to access data at block level as if it were directly attached to storage – all while remaining connected over a network for easy sharing. This offers the very best of NAS and DAS, although at a greater financial cost. However, when data management is absolutely critical, this is the type of setup that you want to have at your disposal.
Regardless of your needs, the team at DVT can assist you with the perfect storage solution. Contact us today to find out more.
Fremont, CA - December 9, 2015 - Blackmagic Design today announced that BAFTA award ..
ONE - Turns standard GigE LAN into a live production network Unlike IP-based workflows that ..
Bright Tangerine has recently released two new products. In this article we'll dive into ..
Fremont, CA - October 13, 2015 - Blackmagic Design today announced that numerous Blackmagic ..
Fremont, CA - January 25, 2017 - Blackmagic Design today announced that more than ..