Future of "the Workstation" and "the Cloud", thoughts?


Something I have been pondering of late and wanted to hear the CG community weigh in on is the future hardware “landscape” and what it might look like for production studios (All types, Film, Game, Architectural, large, small, etc.)

in 5 years?..10 years?

Mostly Cloud based with monthly costs based on CPU usage?

Mostly not for Security/NDA/bandwidth/other reasons?

Mostly Cloud for processing but all data on Studio site?

Any other scenarios, etc.?



I don’t think we’d have much use for it other then client management and some programming tracking.

We can’t really afford to have a cloud service be down or compromised for any amount of time so that’s no good for keeping assets on.

Rendering however would be useful. There’s tons of small cloud-like rendering houses and submitting stuff to it rather then housing a render farm can work for a lot of people.

That’s my thought any way.


Can anyone help explain to me how ‘the cloud’ works? Is this a pipe dream or a reality? Is there a current working example of how ‘the cloud’ would work with cg artists and studios.

Not trying to derail thread by the way, just trying to understand so as to join in. Ta.



Well it is already up and running. Also seems to be pretty good judging by the youtube live vids I have seen.

I think you will find that ownership is an illusion anyhow. You cant take it with you when you go. Consummers wont and dont have too much trouble hiring time on a network. You would think that would be ok for entertainment but not for personal content right? Anyone who engages in internet banking, or banking period is trusting digital transfer of their most personal asset already, money. It will pay to use cloud computing and it is here to stay.

My 2 bob :slight_smile:


The Cloud, at least for the sake of this discussion, comes in by getting your required “computing power” from a Service provider.

In a general sense it goes like this:

For any given computing task it requires a certain amount of “computing power” to accomplish. You can supply the required “computing power” yourself by purchasing/maintaining/upgrading/fiddling with hardware such as workstations/servers OR you can let someone else do that on a much larger scale as a “Service Provider” and then purchase “computing power” from them.

This model of computing is already in full swing for certain types of business environments (writing Word documents, sending emails, etc.) where the actual “computing power” is not demanding in comparison to DCC demands(compositing, modeling, rendering, etc.). The model works because of economies of scale, meaning that a service provider can have a building full of rack servers to provide “computing power” to companies/individuals more cost effectively than just a single user or company.

That is the gist of it.


Mod hat off.

I am solely responsible for my opinions.

I deal with this sort of nonsense almost on a daily basis at work.

At lot of the experience developers that I have talked I have talked to, consider this a scam
of epic proportions since it only benefits the corporations pushing this.
And to make things worst it is not even a new idea.

The thin clien concept is a re-packaging of the idea of Mainframe computing from back in the 70’s.
(I know since I learned to code in one of those)

The whole idea of selling software as a service for people who need their software on a daily basis is baffling for me.

I posted this almost a year ago:

"You will find that organizations are moving to the cloud en masse. Merril Lynch predicts value of cloud marketplace to be > $160 Billion by 2011.

Gartner projects that Software as a Service (Saas) cloud computing will continue to grow at an annual compound growth rate of more than 22% in the same period."


For those pushing for the cloud, this might be of interest:

[size=3]Cloud Goes Boom, T-Mo Sidekick Users Lose All Data‎ -


This week has been a rough one for T-Mobile’s Sidekick users. T-Mobile’s Sidekick service experienced a prolonged data outage and today came the really bad news. The servers Microsoft (NSDQ: MSFT), T-Mobile and Danger use to store all the data for Sidekicks have crashed, and all user data appears to have been lost.


And I can quote you multiple examples of clouds going boom
from all mayor cloud computing providers.

And I have some questions:
[li]How the hell would you explain to a client that you cannot access your workfiles because the internet went down?[/li][li]What happens to the work files in the cloud (you know your IP) when the subscription to the cloud expires?[/li][li]How can you assure the integrity of the security of your clients IP? You dont control the location of the data, so how can you tell?[/li][li]And finnaly what happens to the market of 3rd party development (the plug in market) in a cloud world?[/li][/ul][/color][/size]


This week has been a rough one for T-Mobile’s Sidekick users. T-Mobile’s Sidekick service experienced a prolonged data outage and today came the really bad news. The servers Microsoft (NSDQ: MSFT), T-Mobile and Danger use to store all the data for Sidekicks have crashed, and all user data appears to have been lost.

I remember that.

Frankly I don’t see how a business could justify putting their most valuable data in the hands of an entity outside of their control.

As for ‘software as a service’, I was skeptical of it too, but then Adobe released their software at monthly rates that are lower than my cable internet bill. Photoshop at $30 a month? Nobody has any excuse now but to buy it.


At lot of the experience developed I have talked to, consider this a scam
of epic proportions. This is a re-packaging of the idea of Mainframe computing

I, too, think it’s a scam. Or more properly, it’s an attempt by software giants to retain control and cut down on pirating. Once you have to login to their exclusive service in order to use their app, they have won. They try to dress it up by touting the advantages of the cloud services (and there are a few, but pretty weak ones for people in the CG industry, imho), but it’s nothing but a power-grab.


I have an Autodesk Max subscription which is a big step in that direction. :shrug:

I agree completely as far as the data is concerned and think that the only thing that makes sense, for the DCC crowd anyway IMO, is to have the software/hardware as a service BUT the data is retained on-site at the studio.

However, I don’t think that model is as attractive to the potential service providers because they would be banking on you “investing” your data with them which improves your loyalty to them because of the “barrier to exit”. But if you suddenly have all of your data separate from the software/hardware it would be much easier for you to just jump to another provider.


A big problem is the speed of your connection to the cloud. If I make a sequence of 300*1GB files then I can’t shift them in and out of a cloud. It’s slow enough as it is! Increasingly I find that it is not the computing power that’s the bottleneck but the sheer amount of data that needs to be trafficked around, even on a small office network that’s hard enough. Even inside a single PC!

It might, perhaps, be conceivable to have this kind of speed in 10 years in a big city but there will be too many places where it won’t be possible for a longer period of time.

Maybe all that data will be held in the cloud too, I don’t know, but I think first there will be an intermediate step where part of your processing and data is happening in the cloud and somehow we’d have to go through this phase successfully (imagine developing a fully functional, stable, industrial strength cloud-only 3d app that works from v1.0. Impossible!)


Yeah you’re right, that’s the biggest barrier to having your data on-site instead of at the Service Provider.


I think if anything, the cloud idea might work on a studio level, shifting resources around within the same workplace, which a lot of render farm management software is already doing to an extent. But for dozens of reasons, it won’t and really shouldn’t go any farther than that. Maybe for casual uses, but it’s just too much for serious needs and concerns.

The software thing drives me up a wall. I may be old fashioned, but I definitely hate the idea of basically “long term renting” everything, whether it’s software, movies, music, etc. I want a version of something that I can have and keep, and that even if I never update it or the source company folds, I still have, either physically or at least on my own hard drive.

Your ****ing lawnmower doesn’t stop working if the company that made it goes under, it just means you will eventually have to replace it because you can’t get parts for it. If I want to use last year’s 3D app or one that’s 5 years out of date, it should be none of your damn business.

Speaking of which, get off my lawn!


I imagine that the divide between a dcc professional setup and a consumer/office setup will diverge more and more. Cloud services are really useful for consumers and normal offices. Any computer sold today is way too overpowered for the kind of work it’s going to be used for. I mean even an entry level £300 dell desktop is so overpowered for word processing and internet.

I can’t really see cloud services in their current state being used by professional studios. It introduces a whole raft of headaches into an already complex production pipeline. DCC professionals will always need very fast computers. Any increase in speed is always used up in our line of work. Any increases in speed in the past 5 years at least have not been used by microsoft office users.


I can see how this rift could happen, but the problem is that it limits greatly the option of what a small studio/ indyuser can do.

For example.

I can:
_Model in Max
_Detail in Z-Brush
_Paint textures in Photoshop
-Do some liquid Sim in Blender
-Rig And animate in Maya
-Render in Vray (I use Lightwave for this but bear with me)
-Composite in after Effects
-Edit in Final Cut

Under a cloud Computing arrignment I can only use
two clouds:

Autodesk- Orange
Adobe- Cream

_Model in Max
_Detail in Z-Brush
[color=pink]_Paint textures in Photoshop
[/color]-Do some liquid Sim in Blender
-Rig And animate in Maya
-Render in Vray (I use Lightwave for this but bear with me)
-Composite in After Effects
-Edit in Final Cut

How the heck will clouds be able to talk to each other?

By killing the third party businees, What would be the incentive for innovation?


There are good reasons for using software as a service for ancillary tasks - such as email, collaboration, payroll etc and maybe even for production tracking (eg Shotgun).

Renting space in a dedicated data centre with a dedicated line does make more sense than building your own data centre, but that doesn’t really counts as the “cloud” does it?

Renting software might be useful if you need to ramp up quickly for a short period, but resellers have been cutting temporary licenses for a long time now. It doesn’t need the “cloud”.

And for DCC applications you definitely want it running locally as you need power for interactive work.



I completely agree with everything Roberto said. The “cloud” is a buzzword used these days for “mainframe”. There is a reason why computing moved away from mainframes- the boost in computing speeds and the size of the computers getting smaller.

Redundancy is a good thing when it comes to security of a business and corporations (whose sole purpose in existence is to make their shareholders wealthy) should never be trusted with critical data.

Sure non-critical email, documents, and other non-important stuff (like temporary file transfers) can be done through “the cloud” (as its been done for many years now), but when it comes to performance and sensitive data- I would never trust anyone outside my business with that.

The major flaw of the cloud: cut that little sensitive wire and all your computers/equity become expensive paperweights. When your equity is worth nothing your business’ book value is 0.


/insane rant

I hate everything about cloud computing, I hope it’s all a total disaster

I want a computer, I dont want a box that relies on having a constant internet connection

google seem to be pushing this the most, especially with their new laptop for dummies, they need to be stopped, “dont be evil” my ass… the datamining bastards :banghead:

at least there’s the open source community to keep things free from all this



Dude, you have one of those evil boxes, its called an iphone. Just because the thing doesnt have a label on the front that reads: ‘I am an evil little box with a permanent internet connection’ doesnt mean it isnt a computer that relies on a constant net connection!

Sheesh :slight_smile:


How is relying off a stable internet connection any different than relying of your own hardware?

In my experience the internet connection is much more reliable, and if you lose it, normally it’s only temporary and comes back for free.

That isn’t to say I think the Cloud set up is perfect, I just don’t understand why needing internet is such an issue for people (especially in a CG studio)… what year is this?


In my experience over the past ~10 years my hardware failed on me 3-4 times, and was back online quickly after a trip to the store to replace defective/damaged components. During this time I have internet outages constantly every few weeks- either because of my ISP or some other problem with the network. I can imagine this would be more dramatic for larger companies with bigger responsibilities.

The bottom line is: you have 100% control over your hardware if you are smart with it. It is your property and, therefore, you have a right to all the data and software on it.

Your ISP is a company, you don’t have a right to your connection. They’ll shape your packets, charge you as much as they want for every bit of data you transfer, and block off anything they (their shareholders) don’t want you to use. As time goes on this will become worse.

Between ISP monopolies in North America and “cloud” data we could very well see even larger monopolies (ISP+cloud provider) that will overcharge you for everything and take most of your rights away (which we currently take for granted).