“In our studios we use about 5 DAW and the audio is stored in removable drives. Now I would like to link all five studios to a couple of removable drives that would serve as sort of a server for sound effects (so that I need not load sound effects from CD every time I need them). It would be simple if I just cascade a drive to the existing computers, but I would like the “SFX server” to be fixed, and accessible to all of our 5 DAW.”
Basically you are describing a simple network of computers. You simply need to buy/build a computer to be the server and main storage house for all the files. You can even set things up so that one of the user (DAW) terminals also acts as a server for the other four. The problem with this method, however, is that if the server DAW is in use it’s going to be extremely slow at serving files to other machines. Either way, it’s simply a matter of mounting the hard drive volumes containing the sound effects on each of the machines where work will be done. From there it’s simple for the users to browse those volumes for sounds just as they would on a CD ROM loaded in their specific machines. They can drag and drop needed files from the server hard drives to their local drives and, if necessary, upload their finished work to the server at the end.
Another solution that will provide much more data throughput is to go with a Fibre Channel network (or other similar network protocol). With a Fibre Channel network you can actually use networked hard drives in the same way you would a local drive (meaning ALL work can be done right on the networked drives so ALL work is always stored in a central location where ALL users can access it). This can be a very efficient setup when you have many people working on the same project from different DAW’s.