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Absolute Outsources Production IT To ERA's Hosted Services

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Visual effects house Absolute has established an important industry first after completely outsourcing its production IT requirements from its Poland Street offices to ERA's hosted services. The resulting Infrastructure as a Service deal (IaaS) will confer multiple benefits to Absolute, saving on power consumption and space — both at a premium in Soho — while providing it with almost instant scalability and the ability to offer clients more services.

Absolute is a Visual Effects company specializing in high end TV Commercials, music videos, films and Digital Media. The company offers a full service facility with Grading, 2D, 3D, Editorial and Sound Design Services.

After a strong period of investment (particularly in its 3D, Colour and film departments), the business needed a forward-thinking plan to support its continued expansion in Soho and to enable it to efficiently manage new, bandwidth-hungry technology as well as significant demands on power, cooling and connectivity. With increasingly sophisticated CGI and rendering requirements, it was vital for Absolute to find faster and more efficient ways to ramp up for major projects.

So, in a move that heralds a more effective approach to technology management for the creative industries, Absolute is relocating all of its production IT infrastructure to ERA's secure datacenter, including storage (based on PixitMedia PixStor), workstations, rendering and Cisco networking. ERA will assume responsibility for secure and reliable connectivity and performance, providing remote access to hardware via direct dark fibre connection – all supported by a full 24/7 Service Level Agreement (SLA). Absolute will continue to hold responsibility for all day-to-day applications and user configurations.

This new service is known to Absolute as CTRL (Creative Technology in a Remote Location) – in every sense a control centre for Absolute's continued growth in both infrastructure and technology.

For Absolute, the benefits of this move are manyfold. Financially, savings will be made on the cost of power and cooling, as well as office space, support and management. Further more, all hardware and software purchased can now be classed as a service, not a capital asset, moving spending from Capex to Opex. Autonomy is unaffected by the move as Absolute still retains all the access they require to manage and support everyday operations.

"The financial benefits of this are obvious," says Dan Bennett, Absolute's Managing Director. "The cost of power and cooling as well as office space are of importance, but what was key to us engaging in this solution was the scalability and flexibility it offers our business."

With ERA's support, the team now has access to immediate and unlimited capacity to ramp up for large projects, enabling it to successfully cope with spikes in render/workstation usage and storage processing - for short periods to several months. Should Absolute require a virtual server within its infrastructure they can simply access this on a monthly basis within ERA's virtual environment.

"The Post industry is gaining confidence in SaaS, particularly for workflow and remote collaboration, but companies have been more hesitant in transitioning core production IT to the cloud," says Sean Baker, Commercial Director of ERA. "Absolute has embraced the opportunities IaaS offers to make it more adaptive and competitive - from reduced latency, increased efficiency to scalability. We're excited to have been able to help them make this transition."

Moving to an outsourced model has enabled Absolute to better respond to clients' needs, manage their internal resource more efficiently and expand their core business. Previously, the company's IT team had spent valuable time on hardware support, upgrades and managing connectivity issues. Now their skills can be focused back on the business, developing creative solutions for clients. Furthermore, as real estate prices in central London continue to spiral, precious Soho square-footage that had previously been used for equipment storage can be repurposed into revenue-generating spaces.

Dan Bennett explains: "Outsourcing our production IT infrastructure to ERA allows our business to be scalable on a level that is unprecedented in the visual effects industry. The new efficiencies this model delivers will enable us to work smarter and faster on every project and crucially space that was previously used to store kit will be transformed into two new colour grading suites, allowing us to offer more flexibility for our current client base and open our doors to grading for long form film and TV work."

He concludes, "ERA is one of our most trusted technology suppliers, with a reputation for reliability and delivery, and we have confidence in their technical expertise. They have shown a real understanding of our operational and creative needs and worked closely with us to provide a solid, cost-effective and scalable IaaS package that gives us the freedom to take our business to the next level."
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