22 March 2012
Post-Production and Special Effects House Uses Brocade Ethernet Fabric Technology to Manage Distributed Data Centres
Rushes deploys data centre networking solution based on Ethernet fabric technology to simplify network management, and improve collaborative working and digital end-to-end workflow
Post-production and visual effects processing increasingly relies on 2K/4K film resolution, high-definition (HD), CGI content and real-time digital end-to-end workflows. To address that challenge, one post-production and visual effects company, Rushes (part of the Deluxe Entertainment Services Group), has deployed a Brocade® (Nasdaq: BRCD) data centre networking solution based on Ethernet fabric technology, helping it meet growing demand and link seven data centres located across five buildings in the Soho area of London.
Specifically, Rushes turned to Brocade VCS™ Fabric technology and Brocade VDX™ 6720 Data Center Switches, the primary building blocks for Ethernet fabrics that have revolutionised the design of Layer 2 networks inside of data centres. Brocade Ethernet fabrics are designed to improve network utilisation, maximise application availability, increase scalability and dramatically simplify network architectures in highly virtualised data centres. The new Ethernet fabric deployment will provide the 10 Gigabit Ethernet (GbE) performance, elasticity and resilience needed to boost network capacity to meet increasing bandwidth demands. This type of solution will be increasingly important to modern enterprises, irrespective of the vertical in which they operate, since most will be dealing with increasing volumes of video in coming years; the media sector is paving the way for others to follow.
With over 120 staff, Rushes is a creative post-production and visual effects house recognised for its work on films “Wuthering Heights”, “Unknown”, “The Disappearance of Alice Creed” and “Slumdog Millionaire”; television series the BBC’s “Inside the Human Body”, ABC’s 13-part series “Combat Hospital”; music promos for “Coldplay”, “Björk”, “U2” and commercials for “Max Factor”, “Nokia” and Vodafone”. Rushes hosts the Soho Shorts Film Festival each year which showcases new talent in the UK.
On any given project at Rushes numerous departments are involved: Telecine (color-correction), editing, computer graphics, visual effects, motion graphics, data conversion and delivery.
Jez Tucker, Rushes’ Senior Systems Administrator, said, “All the departments need to work together and connect to the same data, stored in the same place, so files aren’t continually shuffled around, creating islands of data, or worse, duplicates. Rather there’s one, proven, joined-up workflow. Making sure your workflow is as efficient as it can be is a primary concern for post-production.”
To underpin this, Rushes has implemented an IBM General Parallel File System (GPFS) SAN throughout the business to centralise file management. Departments connect either using Fibre Channel – for Effects Artists requiring guaranteed real-time 2K/4K (film resolution), HD or stereoscopic 3D playback performance – or alternatively via VDX 10 GbE.
Jez added, “In the post-production industry, Fibre Channel connectivity is long proven, but the move from 1 GbE to 10 GbE is designed to improve collaboration and the efficiency of staff across all departments. Real-time editing over 10 GbE is in its youth, but we are excited at the prospect of what it can offer us.”
Over and above 10 GbE performance, Rushes chose the Brocade VDX 6720 switches because they provide the foundation for Ethernet fabrics. Jez explained, “Given we have a distributed data centre environment, if we had deployed traditional top-of-rack switches we would have created a huge mesh network resulting in vastly increased management overhead. In contrast, installing Brocade VDX switches in each computer room to create an Ethernet fabric is far simpler. Essentially VDX with VCS technology allows you to deploy a geographically distributed chassis switch, with each VDX being a blade in that chassis – all managed as one switch.”
Over the coming months Rushes plans to install additional Brocade VDX switches in each of the seven machine rooms which will appear logically as one data centre. This phased rollout will provide an opportunity for the business to update end-of-life, legacy networking equipment, thereby saving on support costs.
The new Brocade VCS Fabric technology-based architecture is providing a stable, high-performing, low-latency infrastructure that is flexible enough to adapt to Rushes’ evolving business. Jez continued, “Low latency is crucial when viewing image playback. You can’t have a suite where the video stream is stuttering and dropping frames. The experience for the client must be nothing less than perfect. That’s where we set the bar. Neither can you afford to take a hit on production schedules when your render farm starts crunching data. Your network must be capable of performing the tasks required of it.”
Alberto Soto, vice president EMEA at Brocade, commented, “The ease of management is the big win for customers choosing VCS Fabric technology and why Rushes purchased our switches over competitive products. They’re moving away from dealing with complex network management issues to focus on supporting line-of-business applications and the main task of serving and delighting clients.”
About Brocade Data Centre Networking and Ethernet Fabric Solutions
Network architects are now looking for ways to build more powerful, flatter networks that can support higher traffic loads and increased east-to-west traffic in virtualised environments, all while avoiding network congestion. Collapsing network layers also reduces complexity, which lowers overhead costs and reduces risk. This type of design, however, requires high-density, high-bandwidth network components that deliver full wire-speed connectivity. With Ethernet fabric technology and the industry’s most powerful routers for enterprise data centres, Brocade can help organisations build flatter, simpler networks today – and at measurably lower cost than the competition. For more information, please visit www.brocade.com.
Brocade (Nasdaq: BRCD) networking solutions help the world’s leading organisations transition smoothly to a world where applications and information reside anywhere. (www.brocade.com)