Sorry I forgot to mention that we've got very little money.
Yup we're looking to rip out our music suite and start over. I've spec'd up iMac 21.5" with a Mac Mini Server for management. We was hoping to use the existing home directories on our AD network. However, since visiting another school, they found space was a huge issue and therefore got xTB of storage. I put my concerns to our consultant who will help with the install and he agreed you would need a lot of space. He assumed we had loads already on our existing network.
So, here I am hoping you guys would help me find a storage server that's extremely fast and capable of storing lots of music projects that's Mac Lion Server compatible. I've heard Lion manages SMB shares differently. Should we go SAN? Locally attached Storage? If I got a Mac Pro Server with a RAID Card and xTB of storage, I'd need another NAS/SAN to store the server backups!
Christ, this stuff is incredibly expensive
Thanks for any suggestions!
Sorry I forgot to mention that we've got very little money.
We had a room of 25 iMacs installed in the summer, on average each of our students has about 500MB of quota just for basic word processing, excel.
This integrates into our RM CC4 environment so documents are backed up from windows shares. The big job they do is video editing that is done logged on as a local user and the work is not backed up purely because of lack of space.
Good luck then! ProTools, Logic etc want locally stored files to work on, they just don't play nicely with projects across the network. It's fine to move them into place, but not for on-the-fly work. So you have two choices - a storage server where the kids copy the work to, then move it to a local directory on the Macs to work on. Or, a storage server that has sufficient grunt to allow network file access - I can't remember the models I found now but prices are best described as 'enterprise level'. Things may have changed recently on this so others may have differing views, but I found it was prohibitively expensive so just setup a shared folder on the Mac server for their projects.
We use DeepFreeze so the computers are always in the same fresh state and all profiles are wiped out right after a reboot. All students are told they have to use an external HD/thumb drive in order to save files.
Guys, you are awesome. It's good to know of these problems. So how does Mac OS work with regards to home directories? I've heard of two methods...
1. Their home drive is directly mounted to our Windows Shares. Files are instantly worked on from there.
2. Their home drive is downloaded to the Mac Client, where applications work directly with the "cached" copy on the client. Changes are sync'ed back to the Server.
I can see flaws with either method working with massive file types.
How's the external hard drive system working out for you Carter? What's the general file size being saved to the drive? Do they have to remember to save 5mins before logoff to ensure it has time to copy fully?
One word of advice!!
Play it the Mac way, integrating them too tight with Windows caused REALLY odd problems, IE using a non OSx formatted network drive home share meant that iPhoto didn't work without redirecting to a different folder which was formatted by OSx. Also if the user ran out of drive space things started to go crazy apps wouldn't open etc and it didn't mention anything about running out of space!
I would recommend a gigabit connection to all the Macs and the Mac server to improve sync times if possible.
@Ashm If you are using mobile accounts do you come across issues with the sheer size of some of the files to be synced or the amount of space they take up on the client? Just thinking about some very large music or video projects, or students with multiple projects ...
We did have issues prior to upgrading to Snow Leopard on our older Macs over time where a large number of students had logged in and the hard drives would run out of space (they only have 120GB hard disks or something around that size). Even though the cached mobile accounts are supposed to delete off the clients after set time (and after it has had a successful sync). So far we've not had that problem again but it could be because they were all freshly re-imaged in September!
In terms of large files and syncing, we do have a staff member that's the main Mac user in the school who has a 50GB+ mobile account (Several years worth of Media Projects files etc) and admittedly that does take an age to sync the first time but once it's done as he uses the same Mac normally it's fairly quick to log in & log off as it just does a file sync check.
maybe some kind of out of hours copy of work is a better option than the syncing back of forth of data using mobile accounts during the day, if there is to be a lot of large media files. but then i'd guess you may have to look at what needs doing to ensure there isn't too much duplication of data with that approach.
Don't forget, if you decide to do something similar to Carter, with your users using external USB drives, you could always look at using External accounts. This allows for the users to carry their entire Home Dir on the External drive. With this method they can carry all their data with them and visit any mac in the room. They simply plug in their device and their account pops up on the login screen, allowing them to log in. If this is a viable option then maybe give it some thought. I would like to implement it here. It could simplify the entire process. Of course you do have the potential for lost/damaged drives. Not sure if they work with Networked accounts though, but it may be worth a look.
I would also take a look at the potential of Thunderbolt drives. Remember that you can daisy chain a few together and still get the full 10Gb up and down across each connection. This is something else that I was considering but need to trial it first.
In theory you could have 2 mac minis with 2 thunderbolt drives connected together one could be a mirror of the other while having both macs accessing the data across the connections.
A *looong* while ago I did look at the use of IP over FireWire for something similar but the storage device promising the earth never appeared in the end. It might be worth giving the Wildern folk more of a prod to see how they did it *with* money and see whether that could be translated to a cheaper / heath-robinson version.
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