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Computer-Graphics Firm Turns To Storage Automation To Meet Growing Workload

Rainmaker Entertainment, a Vancouver, British Columbia-based leader in computer-graphics animation, generates more than $300 million in video sales and employs more than 350 employees who do everything from 3-D modeling and lighting to feature films, animation and IT. Rainmaker is internationally recognized for its work on brands like "Spider-Man" and "Popeye", but it also produces original video properties like "ReBoot", "Escape from Planet Earth" and "The Nutty Professor".

In the company's core work of video rendering, three-dimensional models are introduced that include various video modeling instructions in areas such as lighting, texture, viewpoint and shading. With the help of computer programs, these models are rendered into video images. The process is resource-intensive. It requires the ability to receive and store images continuously into production, and to save them weekly into archived storage.

To handle its production workload, Rainmaker was using a BlueArc Titan I (1100 series) system for its primary storage. On the archiving side of its operations, the company was using an Isilon IQ3000 for secondary archive storage, which was performed weekly. "We didn't really have significant performance issues before in production on the single-head Titan I solution, but we knew that we were pushing it to the max with the workload," says Dave Algar, Rainmaker's principal data administrator.

In its business forecasting models, Rainmaker was projecting a three-fold increase in its video modeling and rendering activity. To Rainmaker IT's department, this left little doubt that the present production environment and secondary archiving were going to be challenged to meet the needs. Rainmaker's IT team identified several key objectives as it considered its storage upgrade alternatives:

-- Providing well-performing IT storage resources for company production where resources could be consolidated and/or added as needed -- without resulting in downtime for the business.

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