Disney proves virtualisation with Camp Rock site

Virtualisation technology helped Disney make the most of its summer hit film Camp Rock.

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Never mind the Olympics. You don't have to be a 'tween' to know that the Disney original movie Camp Rock was a sensation this summer, drawing some nine million viewers.

Wanting to capitalise on the success, the network decided to put the full-length movie on Disney.com for one day, along with interactive features like the ability to chat with other viewers online, take polls and answer trivia questions.

With a window of 60 days to get the movie on the site, Disney's Interactive Media Group relied on a combination of virtualisation, load balancing and content delivery networks (CDN). About 25 servers were provisioned for different parts of the architecture to balance the load of the anticipated increased traffic, says Bud Albers, CTO of the Interactive Media Group, in Seattle.

The group had done virtualisation projects before, but never of this magnitude, Albers says. The strategy was to be able to scale server capacity up and down, depending on the demand, he says. Deploying a physical infrastructure was not a viable alternative. "There wasn't time to do it any other way,' Albers says, since Disney had to gather requirements, features and content and then come up with a production schedule.

The goal, adds Adam Fritz, principal software engineer for the interactive media group, was to ensure capital and operating efficiencies as well as the ability to remain agile by relying upon virtual machines. "By taking a pool of equipment and dedicate it to the event, and move it around instead of having to go through a deployment and purchasing cycle ⬦ makes us more agile," says Fritz, also in Seattle.

Other sites, including ABC news and ESPN are hosted out of the same facility, "so we were able to spread our load and use 25 different machines that weren't at a peak time. Basically by doing that, we were able to hold the peak load and there were no incremental capital costs," says Albers.

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