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Lights, camera, action! Remaking a data centre.
ARRI, which specialises in camera and lighting systems for films, turned the spotlight on its own company in early 2019, overhauling the entire IT infrastructure of its subsidiary. Security and availability topped the list of priorities for this project, carried out in conjunction with Bechtle’s Austrian IT systems integrator.

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What do Avengers: Endgame, Star Wars and Bohemian Rhapsody have in common? They were all filmed with the help of Arnold & Richter Cine Technik, ARRI for short, as have countless other blockbusters. Founded in 1917, the Munich-based group provides Hollywood and movie sets around the globe with camera and lighting systems.

Over the course of several decades, ARRI has grown to become a technology stalwart in cinema and television—thanks in large part to the expertise of its Viennese team, which develops primarily special film production accessories as well as cameras and lenses. Over 70 employees work at the Austrian subsidiary, meticulously constructing and optimising their ideas at CAD and hardware/software-development workstations, or building prototypes and assembling the film technology of tomorrow.


A strong IT backbone.

“IT is the foundation and backbone of our day-to-day work. It simply has to function, especially during times when resources are in high demand, which happens often in our development work,” explains Thomas Thonhofer, head of IT at ARRI Cine + Video Geräte Gesellschaft m.b.H—the official name of ARRI’s Austrian subsidiary in Vienna. He knows that a properly functioning IT system is vital. But at the start of 2018, ARRI began experiencing issues due to outdated data centre components. The storage environment in particular was encountering bottlenecks due mainly to the explosion of data.

The plan was to eliminate these bottlenecks by upgrading the IT environment as part of a relocation to new headquarters in Vienna. But plans change. The move was cancelled and the old systems stayed put. Nevertheless, there was no getting around the fact that something had to be done. “And so our data centre was completely rebuilt from the ground up,” explains Mr Thonhofer.


ARRI upgrades entire data centre infrastructure.

Mr Thonhofer began looking into what was currently on offer and which technological options would match the available IT budget for the data centre overhaul. Throughout the entire planning stage, he was advised by his trusted IT partner, Bechtle’s Austrian IT systems integrator. Project manager Aleksandar Vukajlovic and his team redesigned ARRI’s entire data centre, equipping it with state-of-the-art technologies.


At its core is an HPE Synergy server platform—specifically four HPE Synergy 480 Gen10 blade server systems, which have been running since January 2019. Featuring Intel Xeon Gold 6142 processors with 2.6 GHz each, they serve as a powerful computing basis for ARRI’s virtualised environment.

“Anyone who values security, flexibility and availability in their data centre will find that HPE Synergy is an absolute must-have,” explains Mr Vukajlovic, who knows the benefits of this HPE system inside and out. Not only does ARRI’s now software-based infrastructure enable process automation, it also quickly and easily provides developers with virtual machines for special workloads and individual projects.


Everything from a single source.

ARRI also revamped its entire storage environment on the basis of HPE components. A central HPE 3PAR 8400 system with a total capacity of 65 terabytes is now connected to the overall IT system, serving as Tier-1 storage for the HPE Synergy servers. This system features ultra-simple volume management, automatic tiering, intelligent data deduplication and powerful flash technologies. In addition, an HPE MSL2014 tape library with an additional 750 terabytes of data volume is used for backups, completing the smart overall IT design for ARRI’s storage environment.


“The interaction between server and storage components in HPE Synergy and HPE 3PAR systems leverages cutting-edge technologies to deliver maximum reliability and scalability—especially for IT landscapes that have to accommodate large workloads and fast speeds, like at ARRI,” explains Manfred Möller, a storage expert at HPE Austria.

Arnold & Richter Cine Technik (ARRI) is a global company within the motion picture media industry, employing around 1,500 staff worldwide. The company was founded in 1917 in Munich, Germany, where the headquarters is still located today. Other subsidiaries exist in Europe, North and South America, Asia and Australia. The ARRI Group consists of five business units: Camera Systems, Lighting, Media, Rental and Medical. ARRI is a leading designer and manufacturer of camera and lighting systems for the film and broadcast industry, with a worldwide distribution and service network. It is also an integrated media service provider in the fields of film post and co-production, international sales as well as equipment rental, supplying camera, lighting and grip packages to professional productions. ARRI Medical focuses on the use of core imaging technologies for surgical applications. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has recognised ARRI’s engineers and their contributions to the industry with 19 Scientific and Technical Awards.



A future-ready data centre.

For his part, Mr Thonhofer is thoroughly pleased with “his” new IT. After Bechtle redesigned the network/switching and security environment in addition to upgrading to HPE components, it has been plain sailing in ARRI’s data centre. “The reasons for this success were primarily good design and planning work, as well as solutions-oriented advice and the implementation services of Bechtle and HPE,” cites Thomas Thonhofer, commending his IT partners. ARRI now enjoys significantly better performance, not to mention high security and availability, throughout its IT environment. To give an example, Mr Thonhofer explains that a full data backup to tape used to take three days. Now it is completed in just half a day.


Although Mr Thonhofer considers the data centre to be properly equipped for the next five years, he has no time to rest. After all, the new opportunities opened up by ARRI’s modern, scalable and flexible HPE system must be taken advantage of—and plans are already in place to fully virtualise individual development workstations before the year is over. “The ability to tackle new projects like this is exactly the added value we were hoping to achieve by upgrading our data centre.”


Contact person.

Aleksandar Vukajlovic

Key Account Manager, Bechtle IT system house Austria




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Published on Sep 17, 2019.