Many organizations mistakenly calculate that the IT costs associated with workstation deployment end at the time of purchase. However, research shows that a workstation’s base price typically equates to only about 20% of its total cost of ownership (TCO). The other 80% of the costs related to maintenance, support, licensing, and the labor required to keep up the operation as well as indirect costs associated with downtime are overlooked.

Given this, a $7,000 graphics workstation can cost over $30,000 in total cost of ownership (TCO).  Let’s examine the example of a 5-workstation group set up for both on-prem and remote work. 

  • The cost of purchasing and installing such a group of 5 workstations with a media-server, gig-ethernet switching, beefed-up firewall, high speed (gig+) internet, gig-e cards and associated fiber lines is between $100,000 and $150,000.
  • Maintain these with senior IT support (which is much more costly than simple desktop support)
  • Provide a large pipe to the Internet  – depending on the number of off-prem artists.
  • Real estate and associated costs including utilities
  • Security measures, anti-viral, remote operation software including IT support
  • Repairs, support contracts and redundancies on mission-critical machines
  • License serving (typically a separate computer)

With the 20/80 rule (i.e. machine TCO = 5X cost of each workstation) it is easy to see the $150K estimated operated cost for a 5-workstation operation.


 You can see a video demonstration of virtualization in action here. 5-virtual workstation alternative requires

  • A simple $1,000 laptop along with a second screen and associated peripheral like a Wacom tablet
  • No more than basic desktop support since all functions including storage are performed in the cloud.
  • A reasonable Internet connection and a standard firewall along with a standard ethernet connection

Almost the entire cost moves to opex from capex, dramatically reducing depreciation costs.  Firstly and most importantly, the costs are based on actual hours utilized.  Thus the cost of using these virtual machines are only incurred during actual use.  A typical machine may see 70% utilization. As a result, 30% of each virtual machine that’s idle is not charged.  

Secondly, additional virtual workstations as well as hot storage can be spun up at will (within 24 hours) if the need arises. Just as easily, a virtual workstation as well as storage can be taken offline if demand shrinks.

NATIONAL & GLOBAL: Our cloud-based service enables workers from anywhere in the US or even the world to be spun up since the remote worker would be connected to the nearest data center which is seamlessly linked to the data center nearest to your premises.  This opens up a vast pool of talent who would effectively feel like they are working locally.

STORAGE: There are two types of storage in this system

  • Hot storage.  This is high speed storage that is used by the virtualized workstation the same way and at the same speed a local RAID (or a central media server) would be used. The size of this storage can be adjusted to suit the projects in production
  • Cold storage: This less expensive storage is used to hold projects not being worked on or completed and archived projects.  A project can easily be transferred back and forth between the two types of storage.

LICENSES: These licenses for various software packages – Adobe CS, Cinema 4D, Blender, Maya, Resolve etc. are set up on a cloud license server and can be accessed for any of the virtual workstations – just as you would for physical machines.

SECURITY: Perhaps the most important feature of a virtualized system is security.  Put simply, 100% of your assets remain behind a secure virtual firewall and are never uploaded to local machines.  Unless permission is specifically given, no artist or operator can access the files they are working on.  Also, no illegal software (crack) licenses can be used. 

COST:  Assuming 40-hour work weeks with 70% utilization, the cost saving can exceed 50%.

For a more detailed analysis related to a specific installation and for any enquiries, please contact us.