AWS, Qumulo, Teradici: Studios Should Jump Start Their Journeys to the Cloud

Most studios now know that the cloud offers significant value for the media and entertainment industry and those that haven’t already done so really ought to start their journeys to the cloud, Amazon Web Services (AWS), Qumulo and Teradici representatives said July 11 during a webinar called “Jump Start your Studio’s Journey to the Cloud.”

Studios can quickly leverage the cloud to get ahead of competitors and start producing better content in less time. AWS, Teradici and Qumulo have all broken down barriers that hold back studios from using the cloud, according to the companies, who discussed how packaged “jump starts” can accelerate adoption of cloud-based workstations and render farms.

An early assumption by AWS was that its studio customers only wanted to use the cloud for bursting, but trends the company studied soon indicated they’re also using the cloud for rendering, according to Chris Kuthan, its head of business development.

“Basically, once the cloud door is open, people are finding use cases all over the place,” he said. Customers told AWS they wanted to reduce peaks with AWS Cloud rendering and also quickly “push their jobs into the cloud,” he said.

At larger studios, renders were peaking at over 48 hours per job and customers were “doubling, tripling and, in some cases, even going tenfold compared to their on-prem capacity,” he told listeners.

A common theme among customers, regardless of the size of their studios, was that they don’t want to wait 24 hours for a render. In fact, he said: “They don’t want to wait 12 hours” either, and “certainly not 48 hours — they want everything to happen right now.”

One “big advantage is they are paying the same on AWS, whether [they’re] using like 1,000 machines for one hour or one machine for 1,000 hours,” he pointed out.

“Key learnings” to scale one’s studio include anticipating your workloads, he said, noting it’s also a good idea to: “get ‘cloud render ready’ now so that you are prepared” later; when using Spot Instances, “diversify your fleet”; and scale your storage infrastructure and software. Virtual workstations, meanwhile, are another way to scale into the cloud, he noted.

“One of the really valuable things about the cloud studio solution is being able to help you transition from an on-prem environment into AWS,” according to Joel Green, principal product manager at Qumulo. The world’s top 10 film studios “build content on top of Qumulo, both in the data center and in AWS,” as well as more than 50 global VFX studios, he noted.

Qumulo can help studios transition to AWS “by helping you move the data and put the data where it needs to be, whether that be a burst workload…where you want to do rendering and take advantage of all of the compute elasticity inside of AWS and move data up there temporarily and do work and bring it back down, or if you want the data to live up there full-time and do content creation using Teradici’s virtual desktop capabilities to actually do editing and other types of workflows all inside of AWS,” Green said.

Using Qumulo, customers can add performance for demanding workloads without adding capacity, add capacity as needed without incremental cost of more performance and select the right configuration for the specific work they want to do, he noted.

The “necessity to move a physical workstation … is certainly not scalable and having something burst into the cloud is something” that Teradici has seen a lot of interest in, according to Warren Young, account executive at Teradici for the Western U.S. and Canada.

Challenges that studios typically face today, meanwhile, include the need for artists to be able to work from separate physical locations, he said, noting Teradici can help move workloads to a virtualized environment and a cloud environment.

At the same time, there’s multiple other industry pressures that include heightened consumer expectations, a digital content explosion, squeezed production schedules, limited local artistic talent and content security compliance issues, he pointed out.

The webinar also covered how AWS Thinkbox software orchestrates content creation in the cloud and Six Nines demonstrated how its “rapid deploy” cloud studio accelerator enables studios to jumpstart on AWS quickly without having to learn new technologies. Three “jump start” use cases were discussed: Next-gen virtual artist workstations, virtual render farms and an all-in “Studio in the Cloud.”