Press release from Steam Engine

Australian IT systems integrator Frontline Systems is today announcing the launch of Steam Engine, a cloud-based infrastructure provider that will offer high-performance-computing (HPC) infrastructure with zero capital expenditure and cost-effective, short-term leasing options at a minimum of one month.

The launch of Steam Engine is primarily driven by the lack of much-needed HPC infrastructure that could be made available quickly and affordably, especially to meet the needs of visual effects, geo-science, mining, biomedical and financial industries for bursts of rendering, simulation and process intensive applications.

“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,” expresses Stefan Gillard, chief commercial officer, Steam Engine. “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.”

Steam Engine is already working with a number of visual effects and animation studios both locally and abroad, including services to Rising Sun Pictures – an Australian visual effects company. Owner and visual effects supervisor at Rising Sun, Tony Clark, says: "As Rising Sun has been awarded larger and more complex packages of work, the demand has grown for our need to access short-term high-performance computing power. Being able to rely on a model like Steam Engine's on-demand infrastructure is key to maintaining profitable relationships with our clients in the competitive climate of high end feature film visual effects."

Steam Engine currently has 1,000 servers online, with ambitious plans to deploy an additional 3,000 servers by early 2011. This will provide customers with up to two Petabytes of storage capacity housed within Harbour MSP*, a tier-three commercial data centre located at secured facilities in Sydney.

Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IAAS) is being offered to customers at this stage, but Steam Engine will soon enable businesses to completely outsource all of their IT needs – including storage, platforms and software – which can be managed and hosted by Steam Engine as an IT-as-a-Service (ITaaS) proposition. Helpdesk and engineering support will be another cornerstone of Steam Engine’s offering, with industry-specific support staff available to assist around-the-clock.

“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. Meanwhile, new businesses will benefit from the flexibility and agility that will enable them to completely set up their IT within weeks, not months,” notes Michael Chanter, chief technology officer, Steam Engine.”

Steam Engine benefits from Frontline Systems’ strong vendor relationships whilst playing to its strengths in the storage, systems and networking fortes. Steam Engine is powered by infrastructure from a number of recognised players in the HPC space including HP, Hitachi Data Systems, Dell and Arista Networks.

“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,” concludes Gillard.

In addition, James Bourne has been appointed chief architect at Steam Engine. “James brings a wealth of first-hand experience from the HPC supercomputing arena, most recently as chief architect at Dr D Studios,” says Gillard. “He will be overseeing Steam Engine’s expansion into the on-demand HPC space.”

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