We have recently put together a case study showing how Integrid are using Windows Azure for their product, GreenButton. If you were at Tech·Ed New Zealand this year, you would have seen Dave Fellows, Lead Architect at GreenButton, do a fantastic demonstration of how Windows Azure can be used to dramatically speed up the rendering of 3D content by parcelling out the model to Windows Azure compute instances. This effectively gives 3D artists and modellers a supercomputer to render their jobs and reduce the wait time associated with rendering on the desktop.

Read more about Intergrid, GreenButton and WIndows Azure in the case study:

InterGrid

InterGrid brings supercomputer power to the masses with Microsoft Azure.

New Zealand start-up, InterGrid, specialises in making supercomputer levels of processing power available via cloud computing to companies of any size. Its product, GreenButton, allows customers to make use of InterGrid’s computing power on a per CPU and per minute basis. Microsoft’s BizSpark programme has played a part in helping the company find its feet.

 

The modern world is one driven by data and for many companies processing all that data, no matter what the end purpose may be, is a problem — the level of processing power usually associated with super computers is not cheap and can simply turn out to be out of reach for all but the largest of corporations.

 

Wellington based ‘compute-on-demand’ provider, InterGrid, has created a user friendly front end for industrial strength supercomputing via the cloud. They call this product GreenButton and what it does is enable anyone to utilise on-demand computing power without having to invest millions into expensive hardware. Because it integrates with customers’ existing applications via a plug-in, companies can access InterGrid’s supercomputers quickly and conveniently via the internet eliminating the need for any kind of capital investment in large amounts of hardware.

 

Dave Fellows, lead architect at InterGrid, has spent many years dealing with extremely large amounts of data in his previous role as a consultant at a British investment bank. He joined InterGrid early in 2010 as Lead Architect to help re-launch the Green Button project on Windows Azure.

 

“InterGrid’s core business is the GreenButton. The GreenButton aims to be the de facto standard for integrating process-intensive applications with the cloud.”

 

With processor-intensive activities required on an increasing basis, Fellows sees opportunities in a number of vertical markets including digital media (for 3D rendering and effects processing), biotech (DNA sequencing and protein analysis), oil and gas (3D seismic imaging for drilling analysis), Engineering and Design, and Finance. And, of course, anywhere else where significant processing requirements exist.

 

“With the GreenButton we can reduce the end-to-end processing time for what would typically be a multi-hour job to a few minutes for literally a few dollars. This is very compelling to our customers.” He says.

 

So where did InterGrid and the Green Button come from? As it turns out, InterGrid has its origins in the movie industry.

“We go back to Lord of the Rings - Return of The King days” says Fellows.  “Some might remember the huge investment Weta and Gen-i made in the NZ Super Computer Centre in order to support the rendering and processing requirements for the Lord of the Rings final movie. Once the movie was finished this vast resource was predominantly unutilised. Scott Houston, our founder and CEO, was the CTO at Weta at the time and had the revolutionary idea of the GreenButton to bring supercomputing power to the average user.”

 

Now InterGrid has offices in New Zealand and the USA and has access to thousands of processors worldwide and continues to develop new models that it hopes will revolutionise on-demand computing. Along the way, InterGrid and GreenButton has received invaluable assistance from Microsoft by becoming part of the BizSpark programme. BizSpark aims to spark innovation by providing technology start-ups with all the Microsoft software they need for free. To be eligible, a company need only be privately held, less than three years old and generate less than $1 million in revenue. In return, companies get access to Microsoft developer software and business mentorship – all for only a $100 exit fee at the end of the programme.

 

“InterGrid is part of the BizSpark program which, as a start-up, has been of huge benefit. To get all our Microsoft Software for free has allowed us to invest those costs elsewhere. It has also meant we can use a developer toolset which is more advanced than we otherwise could, leading to greater productivity and improved code quality.”

 

This means the company can get on with the task of innovating and producing outstanding new technology without having to worry about how it will pay for many of the basic tools and platforms it needs to get the job done —in much the same way as the GreenButton project aims to allow small companies to be equally as competitive as large ones by providing access to enterprise levels of processing power. The future looks bright for InterGrid and GreenButton.  

 

“I can't give away too much here,” says Fellows, “but we have some exciting ideas in which the GreenButton will really break down the traditional limitations of what can be done with a personal computing device. It's a very exciting space to be in right now with the buzz in the industry around cloud computing. I see Microsoft being leaders in the Platform as a Service market in the near future. The investment they've made in Azure is beyond significant. The Azure architecture from a software perspective is very clever, from a hardware perspective it's revolutionary.”

 

For more information on Microsoft BizSpark, visit www.microsoft.com/BizSpark