I’m just back from the 2011 SIGGRAPH conference in gorgeous Vancouver, B.C. SIGGRAPH is the annual event for folks in the computer graphics and interactive media world, and Isilon happens to be a big player in this space. So we thought: Wouldn’t it be cool to host an intimate customer appreciation dinner at a local restaurant during the conference? We wanted to learn more about our customers’ needs and challenges, share with them a roadmap of where Isilon is heading in the near future, and encourage them to swap storage stories with each other. And, oh yes, another goal was to enjoy some amazing food and wine at Hy’s Steakhouse. Yum.
The evening was a big success on all counts.
We hung out with customers from a variety of organizations, including a college renowned for its animation and illustration courses, an Oscar-winning animation and visual effects studio, and a company that produces high-definition and 3D film.
During dinner, Render Rocket was on hand to talk about their awesome cloud-based 3D rendering service that’s popular with a lot of animation and entertainment studios. Render Rocket uses EMC Isilon X-Series and NL-Series Platform Nodes and Isilon software applications so it can quickly scale to meet the growing demand for its unique cloud rendering services. (Check out the full Render Rocket/Isilon story.)
So what did we learn from our media and entertainment customers that night?
Aside from a few small items on their wish-list (such as more extensive documentation), our customers were extremely pleased with our products and services. I know this is a company blog, but seriously, this crowd was very happy with what we’re doing. They appreciated our product’s features and performance as well as the breadth of our product line. No one said ‘Hey Nick, you all have a gap in your product line; fill it, please.’ And these customers were super enthusiastic about our future product plans (which we shared in confidence.)
One clear and exciting trend among our customers is that once they move to scale-out, they are able to simplify workflows and increase productivity – and that leads to new and exciting challenges as their organizations grow. We talked about a growing need to collaborate across geographical distances, a desire to establish internal cloud portals, and increase the degree to which they can consolidate applications.
Not surprisingly, our media/entertainment customers talked about the challenges they face trying to keep up with their organizations’ insatiable needs for file access and rendering speeds and storage capacity. But they appreciated the fact that we’re helping them simplify and optimize their ever-growing, heavy-duty storage needs.
We got some great feedback after the event. Here’s what Ken, one of our customers at the dinner wrote: “Great to get to know some of the other people around the table with similar concerns and common problems. Very effective. Interesting insight. I like the open discussion, do this every year. It is a good thing to hear what you are doing in person.”
Thanks, Ken. And thanks to everyone else who participated in our first—but not our last—customer-appreciation event!