At DreamWorks Animation, we produce billions of pixels and thousands of assets for each of the ten movies in our production pipeline. Our studio is on a 24/7 production cycle and if performance suffers, it could have serious consequences for our business.
Our previous network was pushed past its limits, making it unpredictable. We were using Spanning Tree for network redundancy and were having issues that we couldn’t fix. This forced us to reboot the core of our network at least once a quarter. Some of our more complex scenes take multiple days to render. If we had an outage 71 hours into a 72-hour render, we didn’t just lose the time the network wasn’t available, we had to start from scratch.
After reviewing our options, we found that an HP Networking solution fulfilled our stability requirements while simplifying and speeding up our network. We are using HP 12518 Network Switches and HP 5800 and 5820 Switch Series from core to edge. The equipment was installed over several months one building floor at a time, and our IT staff successfully deployed the solution to our data center over one weekend. We also utilize HP Intelligent Resilient Framework (IRF) technology which offers us the capability to create and manage a virtual chassis across multiple active switches. And we turned Spanning Tree off and now use Link Aggregation Control Protocol for redundancy.
What surprised us the most, after installing the equipment, was that we didn’t receive any calls from our creative teams. They didn’t seem to notice that anything had happened. Everything worked at every layer which is the best scenario we could have hoped for. Since we put in our HP network, we’ve shaved off a millisecond of latency between our Glendale and Redwood City offices. That’s a very meaningful boost in speed for us when we’re submitting half a million jobs every night for rendering.
It’s been a couple of years since the install and we still haven’t had a significant outage. The HP gear has been the most stable we’ve ever seen in terms of software and patches.