Can you imagine for a second what it would be like without proper storage in our datacentric production and post world? Anarchy! To say it’s a big part of the puzzle would be an understatement.
At postPerspective, we cover storage news, technology and usage in a variety of ways, so recently we reached out to Scale Logic, which provides RAID, SAN and NAS, as well as other archiving solutions, to find out about their products and process.
Some of you might remember that Minneapolis-based Scale Logic Inc. grew out of what was once Rorke Data, which offered products to the post industry for almost 30 years. Scale Logic president/CEO Bob Herzan and about 20 former Rorke Data employees took that technology and experience and built on it, creating new products targeting the media and entertainment space.
Let’s find out more.
Genesis Unlimited is new-ish, but the Genesis platform has been around for how long?
Genesis’ predecessors were released in 2008 as a NUMA programing technology that uses multi-thread processing. The Genesis development team has been building software RAID solutions for the M&E market for eight years, so Genesis Unlimited is a third-generation product. The Genesis RX was introduced over three years ago, and the Genesis Unlimited was announced at NAB 2015.
What should pros know about your Unlimited and RX products?
HyperFS and the Genesis RAID software have been combined and sold as a licensed “SAN in a box” solution for five years now, but Unlimited licensing began in April 2015. The Genesis RX series features unlimited connectivity, which allows facilities to connect all their various systems to the central storage with the correct network speed.
Can you talk about how this helps post users specifically?
Imagine having your fixed SAN or NAS solution at your facility, then having the ability to invite freelance editors to come into your facility and simply be able to connect to your shared storage via Fibre or Ethernet and begin collaborating immediately — without the need to purchase additional hardware or software. The peace of mind this offers allows users to stop thinking about the technology and focus on the creative.
How does Unlimited differ from your other offerings?
Unlimited is tailored for reliability and cost, and it aims to solve connectivity, application compatibility, file system and data storage issues in the one box. While all of our products are meant to scale well, Genesis Unlimited’s scalability is designed for independent scale-out in performance and capacity.
You say you target M&E. How is this system optimized for the workflows of post and VFX pros?
Rather than adapted for M&E use, the system was built from the ground up with M&E in mind. Genesis has features like the HyperFS file system, which can optimize its stripe pattern for either GOPs or iframes. The Realtime Initiator offers guaranteed throughput.
Post pros using our tools don’t want to worry about bandwidth control when it comes to mission critical applications. For example, you might have an important customer reviewing your most recent edits while you review your full resolution 4K output in another bay. Our users don’t want to worry about what other workloads are happening on the SAN — if the bandwidth is overtaxed it could cause poor playback. The Unlimited solves the guesswork by allowing your playout server to take priority on the bandwidth available while other workstations on the SAN will share the leftover bandwidth.
Can you further explain the Realtime Initiator?
Genesis Unlimited can detect client machines connected through its connection ports via iQN or WWN, at which point it’s simple to input recognizable names, like “edit bay1” or “Mac1.” After naming the edit bays, you can toggle on or off realtime, which guarantees an amount of bandwidth for that machine and creates two pools of users: those that are realtime and those that are non-realtime. The non-realtime group can get suppressed with either a bandwidth ceiling they can’t collectively go over or a number of IOPs.
There are many practical uses for this, such as ensuring uninterrupted use for a client coming in for review of a project or setting power editors to realtime while the facility’s ancillary stations are non-realtime.
The Realtime Initiator feature will also give a block-level client priority access to the storage to ensure that no matter what the current workload on the SAN is, the most important suite in a facility will be able to playback without dropping frames.
How have you made this product secure in terms of data protection?
RAID-6 protection is standard on Genesis Unlimited, but it also offers RAID-7 protection — we have a hardened, safe Linux kernel and RAID-7.3 capability, which makes it very secure. The partial restore feature further exemplifies our focus on data security by only degrading a small portion of the disk when bad sectors are detected.
How does this relate in real-world workflows?
Well, for the most part, RAID systems themselves are very secure. When you have an issue with a RAID it typically is going to be due to aging hard drives, so as your system gets older your drives begin to fail. RAID-5 allows one drive to fail, RAID-6 allows two and RAID-7 allows up to three before your facility starts to be at risk of loosing data.
The creative industry for the most part are not IT professionals and don’t necessarily take the same types of preventive maintenance measures that you see in IT. Finding ways to simplify the users’ experience and building in extra protection lets everyone sleep better at night.
This is a scalable system, but what’s the cost of entry? Can the smaller guys take advantage of Genesis Unlimited?
Yes, Genesis Unlimited is built with the collaborative work group in mind; this could be smaller boutique post houses, on-set production, broadcast and cable stations, houses of worship, as well as corporate facilities moving some of their marketing in-house.
These types of companies may not have the ability, or want, to purchase a dedicated Fibre Channel switch or metadata controller, but with Genesis Unlimited they can scale their solution as they grow. The 12-bay Genesis Unlimited starts at $24K using 2TB drives.
If you were a medium-sized VFX house working on commercials, what kind of system would you need and how does this benefit you?
We would recommend our 24- or 36-bay Genesis Unlimited, depending on their storage and bandwidth needs. We also offer a full line of traditional shared SAN solutions if the customer requires things like a dedicated metadata controller or high availability. These can either be used initially or migrated from a Genesis Unlimited, using existing hardware and licenses.
Do you have an advisory committee?
In relation to the HyperFS and our RX Series RAID storage (RX, RX2 and Unlimited) we are qualified for Adobe Anywhere, and certified with Blackmagic, NewTek, Telestream, FileCatalyst, Levels Beyond, Axle Video, Digital Vision, CatDV and others.
We also have developed an advisory board that will meet four times a year. This board is made up of eight industry veterans who currently hold executive positions at some of the industries leading storage manufacturing companies. We believe this committee and its dedication to the media and entertainment market will not only help drive HyperFS and our solutions sets, but will help us develop more focused features that continues to build efficiencies into our solution set.