Back in March 2011 Frogman Interactive spoke with me about their plan to add more staff to their company. One of the goals that they wanted to achieve with their multiple person staff was to have the ability to not only share website and graphical assets (html, photoshop, illustrator, etc. files) over the network but also for me to figure out a way to edit High Definition video over a network.
When presented with a problem like this most people will automatically assume a SAN or Fibre Channel solution will have to be put in place, and if you know what SAN or Fibre Channel are you also know how expensive these solutions can be. After a lot of thought and research we found another solution using standard Ethernet cabling, a fast Raid Cabinet, a Mac, and a very good Layer 3 switch.

New Frogman server being built, almost half finished.

So I began to lay the foundation and get ready for the equipment. The first task was to map and wire a new network, after measuring and investigating above their ceiling for cable runs we began the process of installing and running new Beldin Cat 6 Plenum rated cable. Each cable was run high enough to stay away from power sources and electrical wire (A must when running Ethernet cable to minimize interference) and bound into groups, and run down the walls to the outlet area. Each wall outlet was given a wall plate with at least 2 CAT 6 Ethernet jacks (more on this). The cable was terminated into the jacks and on the other end the cable was run down into a new 24U server rack purchased for this install. Inside the server rack we installed a new Panduit Cat6 patch panel and the wires were terminated into the patch panel. After all the wires were run we Fluked the entire network to be certain there were no faults, miswires, shorts, etc. and also to test the Mhz and speed of each cable to verify it was capable of 1Gbps speeds. After each cable passed the network was certified for 1Gbps speeds we moved onto the physical installation.
The gear arrived and we installed the Mac Pro server, the 8 bay 14TB raid cabinet, LG Layer 3 switch, Dell 2408 switch, router, cable modem, 2 APC UPS (1 for the server and Raid and 1 for the network devices) and all the various cables that ran between, finished off with cable organization (in the rack and on the wall plates) and cable ties to provide for a clean and organized network/server rack. Clean, neat and organized are some things that are often overlooked in favor of speed and just getting the job done, but trust me this is something you want do right from the beginning as it helps troubleshooting down the road

Frogman Server complete and in place.

After all the equipment was up and configured we ran our first test and found that we were getting about 110MBps from the 2 editing workstations and 2 graphic arts workstations. They were ingesting their footage from AVCHD and sometimes editing that footage in the native AVCHD codec and sometimes they were transcoding to Apple’s ProRes HQ codec which will need about 100MBps throughput for editing. Both workstations were able to edit with Adobe Premiere Pro CS5 with all the project assets on the server.
The system is backed up by a set of 4 hard drives in a RAID 5 array and each set is switched out every Friday night and brought offsite as the disaster recovery plan.
So in a nutshell there it is, a way for a lot of video production houses with multiple editors to share video assets over standard Ethernet cabling. It works, it’s stable, it can be installed in a few days (depending on what needs to be done) and it is very cost effective!