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AlternaSAN Recipe: Dish Up Storage to Multiple Machines with that Old MacPro


here. There’s another option he left out though. An option that works, if you’re like me and have only the occasional need to work on multiple machines, waiting until prices come down a bit more, or you just want to be different.

For starters, this is a GigE-based solution and I’d like to thank the UK genius @SpaceSimon (on Twitter) for hooking me up with this wonderful option. For the record, I’ve run PR422 and Cineform Film Scan files in Resolve off of this at 24p with no RT issues whatsoever in full grading sessions. I also edit all my media this way as well, usually DNxHD, Cineform or ProRes 422 in all NLEs. Also on record, I hate networking/IT (for instance, this could be a LAN-based setup, I dunno) so if I can figure this out, you can too.

Ingredients:

  1. 1 MacPro (1 core per machine you want to connect)

  2. 1 GigE switch (6-8 switch is recommended if using a 4 core machine)

  3. 4-8 ethernet cables

  4. X computers you want to connect

  5. 1 beer or drink of choice to enjoy during set up time

Directions:

Connect both network ports on the “server” MacPro to the GigE switch. Connect all other machines to same switch- if both network ports on the towers are used, you go from 1Gbps to up to 2Gbps speeds.

Set all speeds in the network preferences to Jumbo packets (9000).

On the “server” machine, attach and mount all your storage, RAIDs, drives, etc.

On all of your connected (client) machines, mount VIA IP (this is very important) all your attached storage devices. Once these are mounted as local drives for the first time, you can typically continue to access them via the Network in the finder window and they’ll mount correctly moving forward.

A few notes:

  1. The drives didn’t always mount correctly right off the bat, so I had to repeat a couple times. Once they mount, you’re good for perpetuity unless you change IPs or something.

  2. I speed tested at 70MB/s with 1 GigE cable attached on my main machine (off a CalDigit HD Element). That’s plenty fast for anything I do.

  3. I do this because I like to work on multiple machines at once (if one is rendering for instance) without multiple copies of footage/projects.

  4. This would work well with MetaSAN or MetaLAN software if a person wanted (otherwise, no special software is needed).

  5. You could use your own asset management software or continue with whatever you’ve been using.

  6. The stock network controller does a pretty good job managing traffic if you’re not a heavy use house.

  7. This setup frees up vital card slots on my MacPro.

Hope you’re productivity takes a spike if you go this route. Cheers!

Amendment: I haven’t tested file permissions with this as I’m never accessing the same file but the same array. That’s what this setup allows me to do and probably the majority of small outfits out there don’t necessarily need to access the same file.

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©2019 by Jay Friesen.

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