Avere & HGST helping Illumination build next-gen infrastructure
September 21, 2017

Avere & HGST helping Illumination build next-gen infrastructure

PITTSBURGH, PA — Avere Systems, a provider of hybrid cloud enablement solutions, and HGST, a Western Digital brand, are helping animation house Illumination Mac Guff (www.illuminationmacguff.com) build its next level infrastructure to support its expanded production pipeline, increased number of artists and doubled per-film global active data. Illumination Mac Guff, a subsidiary of Universal Pictures and one of the world’s leading studios for animated feature films, is known for global blockbusters such as the Despicable Me films, Minions, The Secret Life of Pets and Sing.

“We looked at a number of gateway/object-storage systems but no other vendors offered equivalent levels of tested interoperability, direct industry experience and expert support,” says Bruno Mahe, head of technology at Illumination Mac Guff. “The Avere and HGST solution provides essential performance, scale and economy, but it was the depth and strength of the corporate relationships—between Avere and HGST and with Illumination Mac Guff—that sealed the deal. This is a long-term solution, and we’re confident of long-term support, continued investment in the technologies and vendor viability.” 

Since the studio’s original deployment of Avere in 2012, the strong commercial success of its movies has accelerated data growth and I/O requirements as well as raised higher expectations from the industry and movie audiences. One of Illumination Mac Guff’s biggest challenges stems from keeping all their digital assets online - necessary for content to be quickly found, reused and monetized. To keep the creativity flowing and artists’ work uninterrupted by IT, Illumination Mac Guff recently tapped Avere Systems and HGST to solve their long-term active archive requirements. 

Today at the Illumination Mac Guff data center, an Avere FXT Edge filer cluster serves as a gateway to HGST’s  ActiveScale object storage system, providing transparent NFS-to-S3 (Amazon S3-compliant interface) object storage translation for seamless access to the archived data. Over two petabytes of digital assets have been consolidated from a variety of second-tier NAS systems to provide reliable online access to the studio’s entire archive of finished productions. Using the Avere technology with the HGST ActiveScale system gives Illumination Mac Guff a more cost-effective archive solution that also delivers required performance with massive scalability and high durability for petabytes.

“The Avere and HGST solutions let us effectively shield studio artists from data access complexities and fluctuating rendering workloads, keeping them productive and free to focus on artistic vision,” adds Mahe.

In addition to the archive solution, Avere front-ends about six petabytes of production-data capacity across two tier 1 storage clusters. Avere ensures high-performance I/O to the studio’s 80,000 core render farm, as well as to approximately 1,000 artist workstations.

“We have a long, successful history of working with high profile animation studios. The volume of data generated by studios like Illumination Mac Guff is staggering and the dependency on access to that data has a direct impact on their bottom line,” says Ron Bianchini, president and CEO, Avere Systems. “When they called on us to support the development of the next stage of their infrastructure, it was a natural fit to partner with HGST.”

“The winning combination for Illumination Mac Guff is performance, scale and the economics of cloud storage on premises,” says Phil Bullinger, senior vice president and general manager, data center systems, Western Digital. “And
that is precisely what the combined strength of the HGST ActiveScale System and Avere FXT Edge filers delivers. We look forward to supporting Illumination Mac Guff through their continued petabyte growth and worldwide success.”