Bringing Cloud Power to Hollywood Digital Effects

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Hollywood digital effects specialist Digital Domain is using storage gear from Avere Systems to harness distributed computing nodes in a cloud rendering system.

Avere announced today that Digital Domain has implemented its FXT Series NAS appliances at a data center in Las Vegas to maximize IOPS (input/output operations per second) and minimize latency of its cloud-based infrastructure to ensure quick access to massive amounts of computer-generated imagery data.

Digital Domain is a visual effects and animation company that has delivered innovative visuals for more than 80 movies — including Titanic, Apollo 13, the Transformers trilogy and TRON: Legacy.  When creating effects for movies the company uses rendering nodes in a Las Vegas colocation center that are accessed from Digital Domain servers in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Vancouver to convert into media frames. The company leverages Avere FXT products to reduce latency introduced by accessing data across such geographical distances.

“We couldn’t do this without Avere in the picture,” said Mike Thompson, Sr. Systems Engineer of Digital Domain.  “The WAN latency would have killed the applications’ IOPS to the filers.  We simply wouldn’t have been able to render frames remotely.  In order to grow, we would have been forced to increase our data center footprint in cities with much higher costs for space and power.”

Avere’s FXT Series of appliances feature a tiered file system that organizes data across RAM, Flash, SAS and SATA tiers to effectively provide a 5:1 reduction in disks, power and rack space. The new FXT 3000 and FXT 4000 series hardware platforms are designed for even greater scalability and efficiency, doubling the amount of appliances that can be clustered to 50 and providing as much as 7 TB of RAM and hundreds of terabytes of SAS or SSD capacity on a single cluster.

“Colocation data center facilities can be enormously beneficial in helping companies such as Digital Domain leverage cloud computing and lower costs; however, without the ability to minimize the latency introduced by geography, the performance degradationis so great that it can’t be offset by cost reduction,” said Ron Bianchini, Avere President and CEO. “Colocating Avere appliances with compute nodes removes the latency penalty and opens up a new world of possibilities for companies seeking to build highly efficient global storage infrastructures without sacrificing application performance.”

About the Author

John Rath is a veteran IT professional and regular contributor at Data Center Knowledge. He has served many roles in the data center, including support, system administration, web development and facility management.

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