Smarter Systems: Efficient Server Farms Power Universal's Animated Hit Despicable Me
Mary Hall 0600011C92 firstname.lastname@example.org Tags:  ibm savings servers me storage energy despicable server 1,581 Visits
Check out the hero of the Universal animated hit, Despicable Me, Gru on the left. Gru is the villain of the film, seeking to commit despicable acts, and take over the world (I'm not telling you all the details, here.) I had to see the movie this week because my little niece wanted to see it for her birthday. Of course, the movie is a child's dream. It pokes fun at adults and features three very smart little girls who humanize the main character, Gru, with their winning combination of smarts and childhood innocence. My niece was completely charmed, as are movie goers all over the world. The film is a big box office success.
Watching the film, I had no idea that IBM was involved in the film's behind the scenes technology until I had a look at today's Information Week Magazine blog. Animated movies typically take a long time to complete, some several years. However, Despicable Me took far less time because it was built on a more efficient foundation, a "server farm." In case you haven't heard, a server farm is a collection of computer servers usually maintained by an enterprise to accomplish server needs far beyond the capability of one machine. Properly utilized, server farms can maximize the efficiency of the technology environment, while reducing the energy needed to power the IT environment.
"The traditional way of making these kinds of movies is in a big studio -- a "glass house" -- where the hundreds of people involved collaborate at the same site," says Ed Abrams, vice president of midmarket offerings at IBM. "As far as the technology, we're usually talking about huge, air-conditioned server rooms that take up a lot of room and consume a lot of energy." For this project, Serviware deployed a server farm that took up only four parking spots' worth of space and reduced power usage by about 40%. The VAR used IBM's iDataPlex systems, which Abrams says are noteworthy for their efficient design and flexible configuration. A Rear Door Heat eXchanger, a water-cooled door, eliminated the need for air conditioning.
The film's producer, Chris Meledandri was very pleased with how the IBM technology enabled collaboration from the the creative talent working on the film. "'Despicable Me' represents a breakthrough in the emerging model of collaborative, geographically distributed digital movie making, which we are proud to be building from the ground up. By seamlessly bringing together creative talent from the U.S., France and other locations around the world via technology, we completed a massive production undertaking that is often left to larger single-location Hollywood studios," said Chris Meledandri, Producer of "Despicable Me" and founder of Illumination Entertainment. "Thanks to the capacity of IBM's rendering technology and the skills of our artists, we were able to bring our creative vision to life through the completion of a wonderfully entertaining film and build the foundation for a large pipeline of projects in development."
According to Information Week, the way in which the film was produced "is a shining example of what IBM and its technology partners are accomplishing under the Smarter Planet umbrella." IBM Business Partner and Value Added Reseller (VAR) Serviware helped 330 Universal employees and animators from all over the globe to collaborate from different locations to bring the film to children like my little niece. That's pretty cool, when you think about the energy being saved, and the laughter being brought to little kids everywhere. The movie was built in nine months, as opposed to the typical 3 to 5 years. Love that Smarter Systems technology for smarter animation!:)