"Our design and CGI departments develop a tremendous amount of modeling and animation that requires a fair amount of rendering (computing)," Keske says. "In the past, that meant building out massive render-farms. In most cases, the sheer capital expenditures and timeframes required to build such a render-farm did not make much business sense, which resulted in us turning down work just because we did not have the infrastructure in place to be able to perform the work efficiently."
The elasticity of Nice Shoes' storage has changed how the company works. Remote offices can connect over extremely high-speed networks as though the designer is sitting in the next cubicle over. When employees need more storage, the cloud bends to their will and provides the automated allocations.
"We have built a [virtual private cloud] tunnel from out NYC offices to Amazon and developed EC2 virtual machine nodes that are configured with rendering software as packages, along with process automation of scripts to turn on the environment as needed without engineering involvement," Keske says. "Our designers, animators and CG artists submit their render needs and the Amazon VPC cloud automatically starts up the required EC2 nodes and server, computes, then delivers it the results directly to our NYC servers."
What is the overall lesson? Nice Shoes--and other creative companies with massive computing needs--have shown how elastic storage, multi-carrier arrangements, secure transmissions and private networks can help IT fuel the creative needs of a company. Many of the same principles apply to any business--especially in our current economic and quickly changing technical climate.
John Brandon is a former IT manager at a Fortune 100 company who now writes about technology. He has written more than 2,500 articles in the past 10 years. You can follow him on Twitter @jmbrandonbb.