Through your eyes: Building the network infrastructure to support 'Star Wars' and other blockbusters

Nine network pros give first-person accounts of working through tough situations.

Raleigh Mann: Manager of network operations, The Lucasfilm Ltd. Companies, San Francisco.

Building the network infrastructure to support 'Star Wars' and other blockbusters

Raleigh Mann

Manager of network operations, The Lucasfilm Ltd. Companies, San Francisco

When we did "Star Wars" Episode I, we used 1.5T bytes of local disk space. Episode III requires 30T bytes. In a five-year time frame that's pretty exponential. For Episode I, we averaged 12T bytes of traffic across the network in a 24-hour period. For Episode III, that number was around 180T bytes.

Back then, we only had one 10G Ethernet interconnect. Now we have 400 10G interconnects. This makes our network the largest single 10G interconnect in the country. 10G Ethernet has come down incredibly low in price. That allows us to build a network that doesn't get in the way - we don't have to worry about increasing desktop connectivity or if there's enough connectivity from the data centers to the wiring closets. We've got plenty.

Raleigh Mann

Artists are able to make the experience richer and more complicated. For example, the fabric simulations we now run give the characters so much more texture. Compare Yoda in Episode I and Episode III - he's got more realistic skin textures and he's more animated. That requires bigger pipes and more disk storage. We need large amounts of bandwidth to deliver data for production, to a disk farm, to the video areas.

It's the marriage of art and technology. This is the new bar for films - everyone wants to have that look and feel. We don't want to have to worry if we've designed our network well enough for the next three, four or five years. Our old network lasted five years. If we get that again, I think it'll be successful.

- As told to Sandra Gittlen

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