The problem: A lot of content from various sources in various formats (MKV, MP4, AVI, FLAC, AAC, etc.) right now I use XBMC and I love it on my main HTPC and TV. We are doing a full house remodel, and the focus of the remodel is on deploying technology throughout the whole house. There are 8 A/V zones. We are deploying a Control4 system. I need to be able to play the media in all of those zones using control4's technology. I want the same feature functionality as I've had with XBMC and my current PC. That is, I can automatically download/acquire whatever media necessary, it's properly backed up, etc.
Need to be able to access multiple files at the same time, to play in different zones.
Do I create an NAS RAID Array, and then using a hardware server running many virtual servers, use Control4's tech to connect to one of the virtual servers running XBMC, allowing me to use XBMC to play different video/audio files in different zones in the house? For my setup does that then mean, I need to run 8 continuous virtual servers, or is there a way to scale them up and down, kind of like deploying on EC2? If these are true, does anyone have any idea which software's I can use, and How to set them up with Control4?
All the control4, receivers, amps, etc. live in one mid-atlantic rack, and all the computer stuff, switches, routers, servers, RAIDs, etc live in another mid-atlantic rack, they are co-located.
What you want to do is possible, but with a little hassle, and a bit of money.
The first question would be: Do you plan to share all of the sources across the entire house, or does each room have it's own dedicated cable box, bluray player etc.. If you want to share these sources, you will need an HDMI Matrix Switch. Control4 can control that without any problem, and will automate the switching for you, so you won't have to think about it, so that portion is no big deal, other than the thousands of dollars a good hdmi matrix switch will cost you.
If you plan to share the sources, then you really only need a few XBMC players, as what are the odds you will be watching something different on every single tv, simultaneously? You'd need to figure out based on who lives with you, and how often they use it, as to how many of these you actually need. There's no point in having 8 though, if out of your 8 zones, no more than 2 people will be watching something unique from XBMC at a time.
If you are not sharing sources, then you will need 8 XBMC players, one dedicated to each tv location. That said, PC's get a bit pricey if you are going to do one for each room, and they take a lot of space. Your solution: AppleTV3. If you jailbreak AppleTV, there is an XBMC for it. Currently only AppleTV1 and AppleTV2 can be jailbroken, but I wouldn't be surprised to see a jailbreak for AppleTV3 within the next few weeks. Once you have it jailbroken and have XBMC installed on it, it should work flawlessly. At only $99 each, you can't find a cheaper, yet reliable player anywhere.
In order to get a 10TB NAS, you will be spending some pretty hefty cash. Look at the Buffalo NAS systems. They aren't the cheapest ones on the market, but they are the most reliable, and that's a lot of data to lose if you go with a cheaper one that fails. You can do a Buffalo with 4 drive bays. Get 4 - 3TB 7200RPM (Not the green drives) hard drives (total of 12GB), then configure it in RAID 5. This will give you a single parity drive so that if 1 hard drive crashes, you don't lose any data. In the end, after formatting and such, you will be left with about 8TB. If that's not enough space, get a second Buffalo RAID. It's be cheaper than going to a 6+ drive RAID setup, and XBMC can stream from numerous RAIDs at the same time.
Lastly, there are a few companies out there that have created drivers for C4 to control XBMC. The problem with them however is they are stuck working within the limitations of the C4 interface. You lose a lot of the features and a lot of the flash you are used to using the C4 interface. I recommend either using the on screen GUI the XBMC gives you (which is controllable with the AppleTV driver on C4), or getting an ipad and downloading the XBMC Constellation app and controlling it that way.