IT Science Case Study: Animation Studio Finds New Storage Efficiencies

SOLUTION ANALYSIS: Isolated storage silos caused data redundancy, so Brown Bag Films decided to come up with a better strategy against data loss: a shared-storage solution.


Here is the latest article in a new eWEEK feature series called IT Science, in which we look at what actually happens at the intersection of new-gen IT and legacy systems.

Unless it’s brand new and right off various assembly lines, servers, storage and networking inside every IT system can be considered “legacy.” This is because the iteration of both hardware and software products is speeding up all the time. It’s not unusual for an app-maker, for example, to update and/or patch for security purposes an application a few times a month, or even a week. Some apps are updated daily! Hardware moves a little slower, but manufacturing cycles are also speeding up.

These articles describe new-gen industry solutions. The idea is to look at real-world examples of how new-gen IT products and services are making a difference in production each day. Most of them are success stories, but there will also be others about projects that blew up. We’ll have IT integrators, system consultants, analysts and other experts helping us with these as needed.

Today’s Topic: New Storage Strategy Needed for Animation Studio

Name the problem to be solved: Brown Bag Films is the animation studio of 9 Story Media Group, a creator, producer and distributor of award-winning animated and live action content for young audiences around the world. Brown Bag needed to revamp its post-production pipeline with more modern practices.

Describe the strategy that went into finding the solution: Traditionally, Brown Bag’s production pipeline used network-attached storage (NAS), but the studio did its post-production work on direct-attached storage. They used Avid Media Composer as their editing software along with its proprietary storage solution, but there were problems with that approach. Isolated storage encourages data redundancy, and it was difficult for Brown Bag to come up with a good strategy against data loss. They wanted to bring in a smart shared-storage solution.

The company did some research and decided on Qumulo, a new-gen storage software and services provider.

List the key components in the solution: Qumulo File Fabric Qumulo File Fabric (QF2) is a modern, highly scalable file storage system that runs in the data center and the public cloud on industry standard hardware.

Describe how the deployment went, perhaps how long it took, and if it came off as planned: Brown Bag investigated block storage, but decision makers believed it was a step backward. The company wanted to be flexible and accessible. They then looked at quite a few file vendors, but Brown Bag’s senior systems engineer Chris Brown had used QF2 before when he worked on a feature film a few years earlier and had a great experience. Now, Brown Bag uses QF2 in both its production and post-production workflows. They have eight QC104s instances at their production site.

Describe the result, new efficiencies gained, and what was learned from the project: QF2 gives Brown Bag’s storage administrators complete, real-time visibility into the file system. With QF2, Brown Bag is able to drill down and look at what's happening, all the way to the file level—a granularity traditional arrays don't have. With QF2, if there's a problem with an edit workstation, Brown Bag can pinpoint that, for example—it's a bandwidth issue.

They can also look at a client's throughput and how many IOPS they're using and understand what's required for them to work on a particular production. They can see who's using what storage and when and how — and being able to track that over time has been very helpful for Brown Bag, as it makes the team’s forecasting a lot easier.

QF2 runs on industry-standard hardware. It includes real-time analytics and capacity quotas, as well as continuous cross-cluster replication and real-time snapshots. The QF2 file system includes a state-of-the art data management system called QumuloDB that is optimized for the specialized needs of file-based data.

QF2 consists of software and services, the latter of which include support, proactive cloud-based monitoring, and trends analysis.

Additional Information:

Case study
QF2 overview

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Chris Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger is Editor-in-Chief of eWEEK and responsible for all the publication's coverage. In his 15 years and more than 4,000 articles at eWEEK, he has distinguished himself in reporting...