Rather than a traditional business that has consistent network and compute resource requirements, Animal Logic needs to dramatically ramp up and re-design its infrastructure to accommodate new techniques and artistic visions, which change project-to-project.
The cyclic nature of production demands means the company can expand from 250 to 600 artists in each studio in the space of a year and then ramp back down and the end of a project.
“To respond to the requirements of a creative digital studio working on animated feature films, there are three core aspects our infrastructure must meet: compute power for rendering; massive amounts of performant storage and a high throughput network,” said Radu Vintila, Systems Engineering Supervisor from Animal Logic’s Sydney Studio. “To give you an idea of what is required on these major films, Peter Rabbit had about 40,000 cores – over 1,000 servers racked up in our data centres – used for around the clock, 24/7 rendering. We have accumulated about half a billion core hours of rendering over a year and a half of the production timeline.”
To ensure better performance and control, cost efficiencies, and enhance environmental sustainability, Animal Logic invested in two on-premises prefabricated modular data centres (PMDCs). These PMDCs, the first installed in 2009 and the second in 2015, are quick to build and implement, supporting the high capacity and high-density computing Animal Logic needs for its projects. However, the support and maintenance for these PMDCs had become time-consuming and challenging for Animal Logic’s team. Having to manage two different generation data centres from two different suppliers, using different cooling and building management technologies added to the complexity of support, which had become increasingly important as the PMDCs aged.
Interactive has been Animal Logic’s IT Hardware Maintenance services partner since 2015, and in 2019 extended that partnership to incorporate data centre services, which includes centralising and consolidating the monitoring and management of the data centre infrastructure by providing a single point of contact for Animal Logic.
With a dynamic and challenging set of data centre requirements, Interactive has been closely involved in planning for Animal Logic’s future data centre support needs, particularly around the impact that any changes to compute capacity and density will have on the PMDCs’ footprint, its power and cooling, and any associated support issues that might arise.
“As our data centre support partner, Interactive understands the technology impact and the flexible arrangements we need to meet the peaks and troughs of our production cycles,” said Vintila.
"Interactive has really invested in building the relationship between our organisations and our account management team is constantly finding the most flexible support approach and creative ways to deal with our business challenges,"
One of the key reasons for Animal Logic to utilise an onsite data centre strategy was the availability of computing resources, so critical to its business. Working across international time zones between their Sydney and Vancouver Studios and with tight project deadlines, Animal Logic can maintain complete control over any scheduled outages for maintenance and upgrades to ensure their artists have uninterrupted access to IT infrastructure.
At the same time, maintaining your own data centre infrastructure represents a significant risk, which is now being well managed and minimised by Interactive’s Data Centre Care service. With Interactive co-ordinating the maintenance activities and managing all support contractors, Animal Logic’s systems engineering team is now free to focus on more strategic projects.
“It’s a much more efficient support model and now we can rely on Interactive’s data centre experience to obtain expert answers quickly from our technical support contacts. This provides us with more agility, which is key to our business,” said Vintila.
Communication has been key to the successful partnership between Animal Logic and Interactive, particularly with regards to account management. With regular review and planning sessions, Interactive is proactive in keeping Animal Logic up-to-date with any new technical developments or issues.
“Interactive has really invested in building the relationship between our organisations, including a common effort to support our local community and charities, and our account management team is constantly finding the most flexible support approach and creative ways to deal with our business challenges,” said Vintila.
Animal Logic is currently reviewing its data centre strategy and has been working with Interactive to identify options that will meet the Studio’s future requirements. “We need a fresh and experienced opinion to find the optimal balance between on-premise and Infrastructure as a Service, and with Interactive at the table we can look for a cost-effective and tailored solution together,” concluded Vintila.