Atomic Cartoons, a Canada-based animation studio that started in 1999, produces some of the most recognizable, award-winning shows made today, including Dogs in Space, LEGO® STAR WARS Terrifying Tales, and Spidey and His Amazing Friends. As an artist-driven operation, the company is focused on making sure they keep staff happy by giving them technology that they need to get their jobs done effectively and efficiently.

Their three major facilities, including the Vancouver headquarters, Ottawa, and the recently-opened Los Angeles location, are home to nearly 1,000 staff members, most of them being creative, talented animators, directors, producers, and writers. With battle-proven timelines and a willingness to take risks that trigger innovation, Atomic’s mindset is that “every show must stand on the shoulders of the last one, improving in quality and production that brings in work the company loves ” explained CEO Jennifer Twiner McCarronn.

The project workflows for Atomic’s artists include a mix of 2D and 3D animation that make up nearly four petabytes of data files under management. The 3D files, in particular, take up significant space. As Atomic’s content production continues to grow across pipelines and genres—from comedy to action adventure—this increases their storage needs and puts unsustainable pressure on the legacy solution. The company needed a new storage solution with features that were a win-win for artists and IT.

“3D takes up a lot of space and increases our demands. It’s important to have a solution that can handle every kind of workflow we throw at it and then some, is easy to manage, quick to update, and offers intuitive reporting.” — Robert Crowther, IT Manager for Atomic Cartoons

Transitioning more than half of its data storage to Qumulo is helping IT support its internal clients, under deadline and focused on creative outputs. “And as the technology expands, creating bigger and bigger files,” shared Robert, IT can easily manage, retrieve, and quickly distribute Atomic’s file data—across locations and a distributed workforce with Qumulo now. This became an even higher priority during the pandemic where remote work became absolutely necessary.

IT satisfies production needs for internal, external clients; increases storage efficiency with Qumulo

Having a small IT team juggling several priorities and requests, and different software to host for different workflows, Atomic was looking for a trustworthy storage solution to support its full cluster. “As we ran out of space in Vancouver, exceeding 85 percent storage…it was never one department that slowed down or one project, it was everything.” Then, to wait weeks for a drive replacement with the legacy storage solution, and hit shipping or delivery issues, caused production inefficiencies and slowdowns for Atomic.

Another challenge that Atomic faced were file backups timing out, which stalled server communication. This triggered user complaints; either staff couldn’t open a program or it took forever to publish a scene or shots. “It affected every single aspect of our production,” Robert added. And consider system upgrades, which took Atomic at least a full work day or more, “that’s unacceptable for the media and entertainment space.” These combined issues led to dissatisfied staff, concerned production teams, and frustration for the IT team.

Using Qumulo, Atomic team members no longer have these constraints because their work is supported with sufficient storage. And in turn, Atomic experiences no disruption or issues with completing productions and getting them in the hands of global broadcasters.

Reliable, fast, constant customer support from Qumulo

During instances that Atomic ever encounters a storage issue, difficult question or bug, Qumulo staff collectively deliver solutions. IT finds this refreshing and a differentiator. “They quickly bring in the expert for that particular area of the storage, make sure we get the proper answer the first time, that it’s solved and we’re happy, which is huge,” shared Robert. In fact, there was an instance where support intervened during the night to offer a fix, alerting IT before they were up. It was reassuring to know “they had our backs in case something went wrong and aren’t waiting for us to create a ticket hours later.”

“Because everything is connected with our storage, the moment it slows down, it affects every single aspect of production.” — Robert Crowther, IT Manager for Atomic Cartoons

Qumulo doesn’t hesitate to act if they see something unusual, anticipating needs and providing resolution. Having the option to communicate live over Slack with Qumulo engineers and support staff is invaluable. It replaces the 50-plus emails and weeks it took to replace a disk on its legacy solution, for instance. With how full Atomic runs its storage, at 85 percent to support many workflows, acting in the moment makes all the difference to fulfill projects and deadlines.

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