Air Bud Entertainment, the film company known for its series about a basketball-playing Golden Retriever, scored a slam dunk — and thousands of dollars in cost savings — using Cohesity’s hyperconverged secondary storage.
Like its films, Air Bud’s Cohesity story has a happy ending. But it started from a point of panic, said Tyson Clark, technical director at Air Bud Entertainment. The company’s studio in Vancouver, Canada, stores millions of large files. Over the last several years it has doubled the daily number of files generated. When its legacy Sun Microsystems secondary storage infrastructure gave out, “it was panic,” Clark remembered. “We had no way of backing up or restoring files. We had to get a new system, but it would have to be compatible with our old tapes to get the data off.”
The new system would also need to manage about 1 petabyte of data and more than 80 servers. And the IT team wanted to eliminate or improve on a number of issues it had with the legacy environment such as failed tapes, difficulty retrieving assets from tapes, and manually archiving data to and restoring it from the cloud.
Managing Millions of Files
“I talked to a ton of people, but Dell and Cohesity were really the only ones who were willing to attempt to work with our problem. People like Nutanix bowed out and said there is no way we can handle this problem,” Clark said, adding that each movie takes between 3.5 and 5 million files, and a TV series is the equivalent of about five movies. “The number of files just becomes really insane.”
After evaluating tape providers and hyperconverged products, Air Bud Entertainment deployed Cohesity C2600 nodes and CohesityDataProtect, as well as DataPlatform Cloud Edition for archiving data to Amazon Web Services (AWS) Glacier. It took about three months to evaluate and configure the solution, and only two weeks to deploy it.
That was six months ago, and now more than 90 terabytes of data is backed up to Cohesity, with additional data easily moved to AWS Glacier for archival storage. The new system is scalable so the company can add more nodes as needed.
It also takes far less time to search for old files and to back up and manage data. For example, searching for a 30-second clip from a 5-year-old movie used to mean that an IT professional would have to manually search up to 40 tapes to find the clip. And then restoring that 30-second clip would take even longer. Now, using Cohesity’s Google-like search and ability to restore data from the cloud, it takes less than one day.
The backup process if much more efficient now, too. “It was taking about two weeks to go through all of the data we had and put it onto tape, and it was crashing. So we had to have someone sitting there 24 hours a day watching it in case it did crash,” Clark said. Using Cohesity, backups are usually completed within 30 minutes, plus the software backs up and restores at the same time.
No More Tape Fees
It also eliminated tape maintenance and storage fees, including $100 fees to deliver a tape from storage. During the filming process this fast backup means that Air Bud can download a full camera card in just under two hours, compared to an entire day. “The cost savings is about $15,000 per shoot for changing tape and doing repairs,” Clark said. “And the support is awesome. I can pick up the phone and within three to five minutes I’ve got someone on the line.”
All of this contributes to the bottom line and lets the Air Bud IT team focus on things like its new Disney Channel series and launching its movie franchise on Netflix. “If we don’t have our data, we are out of business,” Clark said. “The movies don’t pay for themselves on the first selling. We have to see them multiple times. If we can’t easily pull our old data and do some small edits for different distributions, we can be in serious trouble. The quicker we can pull that movie to sell it, the better it is.”