EliteRAID from Sans Digital


Just wanted to share a cool bit of kit we have been using in the studio.  The Sans Digital EliteRAID ER208I+B.

This is a rack mounted 2U 8-bay dual channel iSCSI RAID.  It’s cheap, easy, and reliable.  We got it as a test for backing up the towers.  In a nutshell, we have it hooked up to one of the edit suits for use as a local drive.  With eight 3TB drives inside, it nets around a 19TB RAID 5 drive that we use to TimeMachine the two other local fiber channel RAID 5’s connected to the machine.

(Huh….?)  What that means is this:  First, if your not using Apple’s TimeMachine, you should.  It basically backs up everything automatically and has saved our ass more than once.

Our system goes like this.  Our first edit suite has two RAID 5 arrays connected.  One is an internal RAID that uses three enterprise drives.  With three 3TB drives inside, you get roughly a 5TB RAID.  The other is a 4 bay external chassis connected via fiber channel.  With four 3TB you get roughly 8TB or RAID storage.  The start up drive inside the tower is a 1TB Enterprise.  (Nothing goes on this except the OS and software)  The TimeMachine backs up the entire lot.  But here’s the rub…  The TimeMachine volume has to be bigger than all the volumes added up.  This means in our case, we needed a single volume greater than 14TB’s.  Big right?  This is where the EliteRAID comes into play.  It’s a perfect setup.

What’s cool about the unit is it’s dual channel iSCSI connectivity.  This means that you can connect two gigabit Ethernet cables to the unit to get very fast data transfer.  SD says up to 190MB/s, but we shall see.  There is a lot of jib/jab about how fast things need to be, but fast=expensive and a real world no-bullshit assessment needs to be made about what you need.  We dont do any “over the network” editing, so all we care about is how fast the back-ups work, and iSCSI is just fine… Especially when most of the heavy lifting is done while we are sleeping.  I’m sure as we grow this will change, but for the right here and right now, a gigabit Ethernet and iSCSI backups are just fine.  What really matters is how fast the local drives are, and as they are all fiber channel, we are golden.

If the testing goes as smooth as expected, we will probably pick up three more and TimeMachine all the towers in the same way.  I think I will also hook one up to the XServe in a RAID 6 config as a network drive to use for mid to long term projects.

What I like best about this unit is that Sans Digital does not require the end user to purchase their own drives with the enclosure.  In our case, we have so many 2 and 3TB drives kicking around, purchasing a 2U enclosure and being forced to pay for additional drives is simply a waste of precious resources.