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Until today, the only option for media facilities wishing to take advantage of the performance, fault-tolerance and ease of management of a scale-out storage solution was to purchase a storage cluster consisting of three storage nodes and at least one metadata controller. While an excellent solution for moderate to large media enterprises, the on-average 96-TB capacity of the smallest three-node cluster available was often beyond the requirements and financial means of the thousands of smaller productions and media shops.

To better address the requirements of smaller productions, EditShare developed the single-node EFS storage systems models: XStream EFS 200 and XStream EFS 300. Based on the enterprise XStream EFS platform, they combine the capabilities of their EFS metadata controller and a storage node into one compact, affordable and powerful shared storage server that can easily satisfy today’s production needs, while also establishing a “no forklift” upgrade path to expand capacity, performance and fault-tolerance as the production expands and evolves.

Standard on every single-node EFS system are dual 10GbE network ports as well as the EFS Native Client driver for Windows, Mac OS and Linux. When used in place of legacy SMB and AFP network protocols, the EFS driver will deliver much higher performance. The hardware-based RAID-6, which protects against as many as two drive failures in each chassis, and redundant hot-swap power supplies, boot drives and fans ensure that single-node EFS systems can be relied upon to support around-the-clock production operations.

Here’s what Bill Thompson, EditShare’s storage product manager, had to say about the company and its products.

How would you describe your company?
EditShare is a technology pioneer in file-based workflows. Our award-winning products include XStream EFS high-performance central shared storage, Geevs video capture and playout servers, Ark archiving and backup software, Flow production asset management and the Lightworks pro nonlinear video editing application.

What market factors led to EditShare’s development of the single-node EFS servers?
As is the case for many other market segments, the motion picture and video production segment (NAICS 512110) is dominated by facilities with 50 or fewer employees.

The first generation of XStream EFS (circa IBC2014) implemented storage as a high-performance, highly scalable shared storage cluster incorporating at least three storage nodes and at least one metadata (file system) controller. Though this system was widely accepted at larger production facilities, such as Seismic Productions, Proper TV, Tastemade, UEFA, NFL Films, etc., its 100TB minimum configuration was far above the needs of emerging or moderately sized post production organizations. So we implemented technology and product strategies that allowed a terrific scale-out storage solution to also be scaled in to meet the needs of the broader market.

Media management intelligence for storage is a hot topic right now, so with these latest solutions, do you provide integrated workflow tools out of the box?
We agree that media management is clearly a hot topic now and spans Asset Management, Remote Collaboration, Archive and Backup for Disaster Recovery, etc. For this reason, every EFS system — including the new single-node EFS 200 and 300 models — is equipped with EditShare Flow production asset management to simplify the searching, retrieving, transcoding and movement of assets. Flow also facilitates remote, cloud-based collaboration. In addition to Flow, all EFS systems are equipped with the EditShare Ark Media Archive app to create a tiered storage environment that automates movement of assets into and out of the archive.

What has happened to the original XStream EFS enterprise solution you originally released at NAB two years ago?
While one of the most important milestones in the XStream EFS timeline is the introduction of the single-node EFS, there have been many others since our initial product introduction.

A key development for large media enterprises has been the development of high-availability configurations. This has involved developing new configurations that eliminate single points of failure associated with the file system (i.e., metadata), client connections and networking.

The XStream EFS can now be configured with two or more EFS metadata servers that automatically failover to a synchronized backup without skipping a beat. As a matter of fact, metadata failover on XStream EFS occurs in about 200ms, which is several orders of magnitude faster than other scale-out storage systems. This is vital to any use depending on storage to play out or ingest live streams without the possibility of dropping frames.

Another really important point is that EditShare has developed EFS Native Client drivers for Windows, OS X and Linux workstations. In addition to providing an immediate performance boost (bandwidth) and latency reduction, this firmware enables workstations to connect directly to all relevant storage nodes associated with a given file transaction rather than relying on a single “captain node” and, thus, a single point of failure.

IBC 2016 saw our introduction of the XStream EFS Storage Group concept. Where previous XStream EFS storage clusters were composed of homogenous storage nodes (same storage technology, size, type), storage group technology enables a storage cluster to include, for example, cost-optimized HDD storage nodes, as well as performance-optimized SSD storage. This important new capability enables a facility to have the right mix of speed and capacity regardless of whether its workflows involve high-data-rate film scanning (i.e., DPX files), color correction and scratch removal, online editing of compressed and uncompressed films, or even low-data-rate proxy editing.

What types of studios will benefit from this new system?
Clearly, the single-node EFS will enable small and emerging studios to migrate their workflow into a modern scale-out environment that can grow as their business expands. Expansion is simple – add one or more new storage nodes to expand capacity and bandwidth, that’s it!

Consider a facility that might be beginning to tackle high-data-rate “4K” projects, but whose current storage isn’t up to the task. They can take advantage of a single-node EFS SSD solution for these projects. And that solution can be expanded to address all other media storage needs as existing storage ages and needs replacement.

At any point, a single-node EFS–based installation can be configured with additional capability such as high-availability metadata servers, dedicated Flow and Ark servers, workflow automation, QC solutions, along with nearline disk and offline tape libraries. Implementing these EditShare solutions offers a dynamic workflow infrastructure that really supports a facility from the point when the valuable content arrives into the facility to the time it's archived and used again.

No matter the size of an XStream EFS system, it is always presented as a single namespace (or a single file system). This eliminates administrative tasks like balancing project workloads on multiple RAIDs, LUNs, volumes or file systems, an onerous task that is so common with legacy SAN and NAS storage found in smaller productions.

What's next for the EFS platform?
It’s a really exciting time at EditShare and we are developing some really cool technology that our customers will love. The EditShare EFS is our go-to platform and we are committed to continuing its evolution. In the short term, you can expect announcements regarding additional choices for storage node technology and a new sophisticated level of storage protection. In addition, we are planning features to simplify system management tasks and address growing security concerns in the post production space.

Watch our video interview with Bill Thompson to learn more.

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