NAB 2011 is now over and here's my short review. The National Association of Broadcasters puts on a big show with a thousands of vendors. Held at the Las Vegas convention centre it is a lot of really big buildings with an insane amount of booths and an ton of people everywhere. It's a conference geared towards broadcasters and the people that support them. NAB 2011 had a lot of things that are of particular interest for Xsan system administrators, integrators, and consultants.
I only spent one day at the NAB show, and I'll be honest, I did not see close to everything! Here's a short of list of highlights, but feel free to add comments with anything else you saw that seemed interesting.
Read on for more about ActiveSAN, Promise, Thunderbolt, Peripherals, Apple FCP X, and Backup Software....
1. Active Storage ActiveSAN
I went to NAB for one reason, to see Active Storage's ActiveSAN solution in person. In a post-Xserve world, all Xsan system administrators are left wondering what is next. What do I use as an Xsan controller alternative?
It's a 1U appliance with the StorNext filesystem running on Linux with a nice GUI for setting up an Xsan. What else could you ask for? Oh yeah, it's go 8GB fibre channel ports and their Active Stats software monitoring package. Their Inner Pool technology will be offered as an option, and I can't wait for this thing to ship and be available. It's approx $30K for a pair of controllers, and it will be a nice option for an Xserve Xsan controller replacement.
Other options exist in the StorNext appliance space, but ActiveSAN is getting a lot of deserved attention by Xsan administrators, since they make the well known ActiveRAID product which is well liked in the media and entertainment industry.
2. Promise Vtrak x30 series RAID
With those Xsan or StorNext controllers you always need a fibre channel RAID to go with it. The Promise Vtrak x30 series RAID has a lot going for it:
- 24 drives in a 4U chassis
- 8GB fibre channel (finally!!)
- Four 8GB fibre channel per controller (Eight 8GB total)
- up to three jbod slaves to head unit suported for video
- USB port on the back for getting system reports
Of course there a lot of other RAID units on display as NAB, and more than a few with Fibre Channel, as well. Active Storage has their XRAID, and G-Tech has their G-SPEED FC XL, but this Promise unit was brand new and a bit of a suprise so it is worth noting here. A lot of the wish list items are in this new Promise product so let's see it in action already!!
But as you all know there was something really new this year at NAB: Thunderbolt! And the most awaited device was fulfilled with Promise's Thunderbolt fibre channel adapter:
- Two 4GB fibre channel ports!
- Bus powered
Wowee. In the near future we can have SAN volumes mounted on a MacBookPro! But after the excitement wears off, I am worried about deploying this solution on a mobile. The urge for someone to just unplug the Thunderbolt cable and go is fraught with peril. Ooops. Where did my SAN go? This adapter will be great when Thunderbolt is in future iMacs, Mac Mini's and Mac Pros.
Other direct attached RAID solutions were on hand at NAB and they were very cool. Some of them faster than some SANs!
- 4 & 6 drive RAIDs
- over 800MB/s sustained throughput
Blackmagic was showing off their breakout box with Thunderbolt, the "UltraStudio 3D" capture and playback solution. Looks cool.
5. Software: Apple FCP X
The FCP Supermeet had a special suprise this year, a sneak peak at the upcoming FCP X. A totally rewritten Final Cut Pro. 64bit. And pretty sweet. Even in an hour there were more questions than answers afterwards. But they did say it would be $299 and available in June through the App Store. Wow.
Lots of other software vendors were on hand, such as The Foundry, showing off Nuke and other products. Autodesk was demoing Smoke on Mac, and Adobe was drawing in crowds to gawk at Premiere.
A special surpise was LightIronDigital showing off their cool on set iPad app, LivePlay, so you could monitor RED files coming off the camera in real time. Other features included adding onset information for VFX.
6. Backup software
Backup of Final Cut Server and Xsan is always on our minds, and so I checked out two vendors that play well with both.
Atempo Digital Archive and Archiware PresStore. both have well known solutions for Final Cut Server and Xsan. Both a different price points for different uses and clients.
Anything else? What did I miss? A lot probably. Leave comments.