Film studio finds a way to condense its data centre and improve distribution

BARCELONA – The movie studio that brought you blockbuster hits such as Rocky, Star Wars, Avatar and Home Alone is now in the cloud.

What is surprising about this announcement is that 20th Century Fox studios has been in the cloud for just six months.

John Herbert, the CIO for 20th Century Fox who described his company’s journey to the cloud, was part of HP CEO Meg Whitman’s keynote today.

The challenge for 20th Century Fox and the rest of the film industry is that the digital phenomenon is changing everything.

“Digital is now in every division of the business and today consumers have choice and a broad range of home entertainment,” Herbert said.

Meanwhile in the highly competitive TV distribution business, where IT managers deliver content to thousands of broadcasters around the world, companies rapidly moving from a tape-based deliver system to a file-based system.

For Herbert, his team’s strategy for moving 20th Century Fox to the cloud was to rethink the company’s IT infrastructure in a digital way. He chose a converged cloud strategy and decided to partner with HP Enterprise Services.


“The first step was to move away from non-standard, converged infrastructure to the cloud that can respond to the current business needs, while providing computing and storage to all the employees,” Herbert said.

The results so far are hard to measure because it so early, but Herbert did provide one anecdote: The delivery of computing and storage resources for 20th Century Fox has gone down from weeks to minutes. The studio reduced its data centre footprint by 70 per cent by deploying HP MoonShot servers.

Herbert said that MoonShot condensed 20th Century Fox’s data centre down to just a few racks and improved the digital supply chain.

HP MoonShot includes an enclosure along with ProLiant Moonshot servers that can target a specific workload. ProLiant MoonShot servers uses the Intel Atom S1200 processor and supports Web hosting workloads and cost approximately $60,000 each.

HP (NYSE: HPQ) calls MoonShot a “hyperscale” class of server that uses 89 per cent less energy and 80 per cent less space than traditional servers.

Long term, Herbert has been tasked to support the studio across 90 countries and 145 cities it does business in. 20th Century Fox is predominantly known for its movies, but it also produces TV shows such as Glee, How I Met Your Mother, 24, The X-Files and The Simpsons.

The company also produces sports programming such as the Daytona 500 and the Ultimate Fighting Championship.

The newly implemented converged cloud portfolio is an on-demand system with media in the cloud in a shared services model. It has enabled 20th Century Fox to be able to move 8 petabytes of content per year. According to Herbert, this new system balances costs and supports internal customers around the globe.

Herbert described 20th Century Fox’s cloud journey by quoting a line from Tom Hanks from the 2000 movie Cast Away: “Tomorrow the sun will rise and who knows what the tide will bring in.”

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