Frontline launches cloud infrastructure company, Steam Engine

The cloud-based infrastructure provider claims to be the first to deliver on-demand, high performance computing (HPC) targeting the media and entertainment industry

A new cloud-based infrastructure provider, Steam Engine, has set up shop.

It is borne from system integrator, Frontline Systems, and claims to be one of the first on-demand, high performance computing (HPC) vendors targeting the media and entertainment industry.

Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IAAS) forms part of its offering and is powered by hardware from vendors such as HP, Hitachi Data Systems and Arista Networks.

It plans to expand beyond this to provide customers with the ability to outsource their complete IT platform, including storage and software. This also includes helpdesk and engineering support capabilities and with industry-specific support staff will be available for 24/7 assistance.

“By offering IT from the desktop all the way up to the data centre level, we will provide customers with cost-effective access to HPC infrastructure without being locked into long-term hosting contracts,” Steam Engine CTO, Michael Chanter, said.

“Meanwhile, new businesses will benefit from the flexibility and agility that will enable them to completely set up their IT within weeks, not months.”

It will be managed and hosted by Steam Engine, which can be offered as a short-term leasing option at a minimum of one month.

The decision behind launching Steam Engine was driven by the need to make a HPC infrastructure affordable and quickly available, especially when it comes to meeting the requirements of visual effects, geo-science, mining, biomedical and financial industries for bursts of rendering, simulation and process intensive applications, the company said.

“These businesses are exemplified by extreme peaks and troughs in data and infrastructure demand, which makes operating and managing in-house date centre facilities a financially unsound proposition,” Steam Engine chief commercial officer, Stefan Gillard, said. “For short term production, simulation or testing requirements, Steam Engine makes it possible to completely negate the capital expenditure involved, while slashing the operating expenditure by up to 40 percent in comparison to running the same capacity in-house.”

The company has begun working with visual effects and animation studios both locally and abroad and it counts Rising Sun Pictures as one of its customers.

The cloud provider has about 1000 online servers and plans to deploy an additional 3000 servers by early 2011. This will provide customers with up to two petabytes of storage capacity housed within Harbour MSP, which a tier-three commercial data centre located at secured facilities in Sydney.

“Customers will not only be able to tap into the expertise and infrastructure associated with a tier-three data centre, they will be able to do so without the lengthy hosting contracts that usually bound such infrastructure. For businesses where demand is seasonal or short-term, Steam Engine will accommodate to that,” Gillard said.

In addition, James Bourne has been appointed chief architect at Steam Engine.