Interop 2012: Public Cloud is a dream for animation company

DreamWorks talks up public cloud but admits challenges.

Using public clouds could be the key to overcoming scalability problems, according to animation company DreamWorks' Derek Chan.

Chan, who is the company’s head of digital operations, said that tight production schedules meant there were concentrated compute loads, especially near the completion of a film.

The company currently has eight to ten films in production using three studios around the world - two in the US and one in Bangalore, India.

“For us it is a fully virtualised infrastructure,” said Chan. “Any artist can work on any project and we are able to shift the work around and have teams collaborate to create the films.”

The technology it employs has meant instead of making one file every three years, it now makes three films every five years.

“It takes a ton to get all of this stuff to come to bear. This scale of infrastructure and compute is something that we have had to work on over the last ten years,” he said.

He detailed what went into the infrastructure that is behind movies, such as Shrek.

“It’ll take 200 plus Terabytes, 70 million CPU hours, 20 per cent we’ll be doing in the cloud,” he said. “We do over half a billion files spread over those 200 plus terabytes.”

He said that one of the biggest problems facing the company was providing “the amount of compute”.

He said that the cloud was used for sustained loads and would then burst for peaks in usage especially when getting near the end of a production.

“While we primarily use a private cloud, it does not have the same scalability as a public cloud,” he said.

He said he used HP’s converged infrastructure to connect its three production studios. It also connects those studios to HP’s Switch Cloud, which is based in a datacentre in Las Vegas.

“We do 20 per cent of our compute [in the Switch Cloud], which is roughly 14 million CPU hours offsite. For us the networking is a key component that ties it together.”

He said that the company alongside HP was looking to use the public cloud to enhance its operations around the world as this could ensure staff working on projects would be guaranteed access to assigned projects.