16 Apr 2013

Preview: SAN becomes NAS in the new age

NAB 2013 News: GB Labs’ new SPACE Bridge, enables SAN owners to convert their existing storage units into network attached systems, adapted to a new vital role.

Until recent years, fibre SAN storage dominated the world of shared editing platforms. Now superseded by more practical Ethernet-based solutions, they are gradually being replaced as tier one solutions across the broadcast and production community.

GB Labs’ ECHO Bridge is a rack-mounted unit that connects fibre or SAS systems to standard IP protocols for instant deployment on a network. Sales and Marketing Director, Ben Pearce summarises the rationale “Many companies have already invested heavily in storage that would have been considered state of the art only a few years ago but cannot sustain performance levels required in today’s multi-stream HD editing environments.

SPACE SSD has the storage power (over 3GB/s) to handle multiple concurrent streams of 4K DPX video. With this primary system residing on a standard 10GB Ethernet network, file transfer onto a 128TB SPACE ECHO (36 bay) nearline system is fast and simple. ECHO (36 bay) also has intelligent built-in tools for automated replication of the primary drive for total security of the media assets. Long-term 4K project archiving is taken care of by GB Labs’ new range of LTO-6 archive appliances. LTO SPACE makes the most of the tape’s 160MB/s native speed to back up and restore projects at the fastest possible data rate. LTO SPACE features up-to four 2.5TB tape drives, supports multiple tape spanning and efficient DPX sequence back up.

“Maintaining SAN systems is notoriously challenging, time consuming and costly and we find many companies are actually considering discarding their older systems. We wanted to help companies get more out of their original investment and to enjoy the benefits of network attached storage.”

The result, ECHO Bridge, is an upgraded storage system that resides on Ethernet networks and can be addressed by any mix of Mac, Windows or Linux computers, without the need for adapter cards, drivers or client software licences. The adapted storage also benefits from the fastest possible implementation of protocols such as NFS, SMB and AFP, as well as Active Directory Authentication for instant integration with Microsoft server environments. While SPACE Bridge cannot increase the fundamental performance of the array, it significantly improves the user experience and delivers considerable data workflow benefits.

“SAN systems rarely match the performance of SPACE tier one storage,” continues Pearce, “so we expect devices converted by Bridge to be used primarily in a nearline or backup role alongside SPACE. In doing so, not only is the life of the original unit extended, but users gain valuable additional workgroup storage on the network.”

SPACE Bridge also delivers the advantage of GB Labs hierarchical tiering software tools that allow the storage to be used with other SPACE products, media assets to be cloned or archived automatically from other GB Labs systems. SPACE Bridge-converted arrays can work equally well in tandem with GB Labs’ SPACE LTO archiving racks, with files or complete projects being transferred at high speed to secure tape over Gigabit networks.