Seagate and pixstor: the perfect partners for One Of Us

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How Seagate and pixstor help One Of Us thrive under pressure

One Of Us (OOU) is a visual effects studio which, from its humble beginnings in 2005, has grown to over 330 people working across studios in London and Paris.

With work on some of cinema and TV’s biggest properties, including the Fantastic Beasts, Star Wars, and Paddington franchises, and The Witcher and Bridgerton on smaller screens, this is a studio that thrives by working on many diverse projects at once. In such a creative, high-throughput environment, one thing the OOU team doesn’t need to spend any energy worrying about is storage affecting the workflow.

Thanks to its pixstor and Seagate solution working together seamlessly, everyone who needs to can access and save the files they need - without needing to think about where that data is actually stored. pixstor handles the data by treating the storage and network as a unified resource to enable seamless workflows. This works in parallel with Seagate’s Exos X 5U84; an enterprise-level solution with high performance SAS storage controllers and expansions fully populated with XTB disks. This perfectly matched partnership of brains and brawn gives OOU the fast, secure and affordable solution it needs, every single day.

 

Upgrading and expanding

“It gives us performance, capacity and reliability,” says Anatoly Vladimirov, Head of Information Technology at One Of Us. “When I started in 2019, we already had a pixstor set up, but it was smaller and less user-friendly than what we have now. It was split across multiple pools, whereas the solution we have now sets everything up as one large storage space.”

Anatoly oversaw this upgrade, and immediately understood that this was a cycle he’d need to repeat on a semi-regular basis. “Response and throughput immediately increased with the new system. But we’ve grown considerably, in terms of both the number of users we have, and the number of projects we’re working on at any one time. So that means that the new set up was soon working harder than the old one – and it did everything we asked of it. The old set up wouldn’t have been able to handle such demands.”

With pixstor and Seagate’s ultra-dense, intelligent storage working fantastically together, Anatoly is quick to point out another strong partnership in this ecosystem: his relationship with the team at pixitmedia. Between them they monitor and administer pixstor, troubleshoot and create new fileset directories for each project's data to be stored. “I know we don’t use pixstor to the limit of its abilities,” he laughs. “We don’t manage everything down to a granular level, but we’ve never felt we needed to. We like it because it’s quick and it allows us to be flexible, moving into cloud rendering if we need to with no problems.”

As well as helping to spot any issues with the set up, pixitmedia also helps to ensure that One Of Us has all the latest security patches so that they can stay ahead of the industry’s latest regulations, such as Netflix’s TPN rules - which they passed with flying colours.

 

 

Looking to the future

“This morning we were at 82% capacity,” says Anatoly, “so it’s time to upgrade again with Escape’s help. It’s essential to have more capacity than we need, so storage never becomes a concern when we’re working to a deadline. We need to be ready for tomorrow rather than coping with today. ”It’s not just the number of users and projects that’s pushing the studio to invest in higher capacities. The type of projects has become more intense, with the demand for greater-than-4k work seeing the size of each project increasing massively. The number of shots may be the same on a project today as it was two years ago, but with higher resolutions, it’s around a third larger when it comes to data.

The plan is to increase the studio’s storage by 2 petabytes on both the live production and the data recovery sides, Anatoly is quick to sing the praises of the Seagate storage solution OOU uses, with each enclosure capable of housing up to 84 drives and able to deliver unfettered data access. “They’re secure and reliable… and also compact. It’s possible to house a lot of capacity in a small space. For us, that’s very important as everything is in the London office, and there’s not much space to be honest.”

 

Trusted adviser

The decision to keep with the pixstor and Seagate partnership brings us to one final partnership in the equation, the one between One Of Us and Escape Technology. Whenever the need to enhance, upgrade or change comes up, the first point of call is Escape. “They’re our technology partner,” confirms Anatoly, “for support, hardware and just opinions and ideas. Before we do anything, we have a chat and Jason at Escape researches possible solutions from different vendors. The pixstor and Seagate solution is the perfect performance/price point for us, which Escape helped us identify.

“We don’t have a large technical team,” he continues, “and we do take advantage of Escape’s expertise when it comes to upgrading our storage; or improving our network, making it more reliable and efficient; or increasing our security. They work closely with us and understand our needs.

“They know what we have and where we’re going, so it’s very useful to be able to just pick up the phone and have a discussion. It might be around cost, technology or how to install something with minimal disruption, or it might be that they just confirm that what we’re considering is the best solution. Whatever it is, their wide-ranging expertise means they have the knowledge and the experience to suggest the most practical solution for us.”

 

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