Hi! I wanted to let you know that some major changes to Athera have just gone live. A brief summary went out in our September Update, but that just scratched the surface of what we’re delivering and why.
Here are some more details about the two most significant changes: Unbundling and Bring your Own License (BYOL).
Previously, Athera offered applications as a bundle made up of two parts:
- 30 days of access to the software, similar in concept to a monthly floating rental license.
- 200 hours of usage time on a cloud workstation of a fixed specification.
After we released Athera and listened very closely to feedback from users and non-users alike, we realized that the following issues kept coming up:
- Because the workstation was of a fixed spec over 30 days, users didn’t have the flexibility to change to a more or less powerful workstation depending on the situation.
- Some users wanted more than the allotted 200 hours of usage, while others never made full use of the granted hours - but all users were charged the same price.
Now, Athera offers apps and machine profiles independently. Apps remain similar to a 30-day floating rental license, while a machine profile is similar to purchasing an upfront block of hours on a cloud workstation of a certain specification. You can mix-and-match any app with any compatible machine profile prior to launching an Athera session. Here’s where it gets exciting: anyone in your virtual studio can share machine profile entitlements while using their own individual apps at the same time. Time gets used up in proportion to how many people are using the machine profile at once.
Unbundling also gives you the flexibility to dial power up or down as needed. For example, you can supercharge Houdini for a short period of time with a more powerful machine profile in order to preview a simulation before sending it to Athera Compute for rendering. Initially, the two main profiles on offer for interactive apps are
gpu-8-30 (8 cores, 30gb, 1 GPU) and
gpu-16-104 (16 cores, 104gb, 2 GPUs).
We’ve also unbundled Athera Compute, our build-in cloud render farm. You can now combine a machine profile with any compatible host app and rederer combination. We have special preemptible machine profiles specially suited to making render jobs affordable across dozens or even hundreds of nodes.
Starting now, you will be able to use your existing Foundry license inside of Athera. If you have a desktop license for a Foundry app that is also available for purchase in Athera, you can contact us and request to have that same app credited to you in the cloud. For example, if you have an existing license of Nuke and wish to use it within Athera, simply contact us to have Nuke made available to you in Athera as well. You then only need to purchase a corresponding machine profile. Here are the details of how BYOL works:
- You agree to use your desktop license and Athera non-concurrently. That means you can’t use Athera as though it’s an extra license: you may use it on your desktop, or in Athera, but not in both places simultaneously. You can switch between the two.
- Athera credits are extended for 30 days at a time. If you need your application in Athera for more than 30 days, then we’ll extend the credit for as long as you require.
- Your desktop licenses need to be current, and we’ll perform a manual verification before setting up the Athera credits. We plan to make this automatic in a future release.
Unbundling is part of our vision of giving superpowers to VFX artists everywhere. Here’s a playful list of superpowers that Athera now offers:
- Superpower: Pay-as-you-go. You only pay for the machine profile you actually use. Unlike leased or purchased equipment, Athera provides on-demand access to compute power without any long-term commitment.
- Superpower: Flexible scalability. Use a bigger machine profile when you need it, and a smaller one when you don’t - and the flexibility to go back and forth anytime you want.
- Superpower: Fault-tolerance. IT issues always seem to happen at the worst times. Athera sessions are resilient, replaceable, and highly secure containers hosted on the same world-class IT infrastructure that powers Google Search and YouTube.
- Superpower: Independent contexts. Sessions run in isolated containers with dedicated resources and are customized with a context-specific view of storage and permissions. You can have many open at once, each using the full power its machine profile.
- Superpower: Shared resources. Share your app and machine profile resources with everyone in your virtual organization, wherever they are in the world.
- Superpower: Software on demand. Get instant access to the tools needed for each unique project. Purchase apps online in 30-day periods with no strings attached, or supercharge your existing Foundry licenses by using them in Athera.
Athera is all about making these superpowers easy, affordable, and available anywhere. We still have lots more work to do, such as streamlining our UI, adding more data centers, and expanding our tool offering. But this latest release represents a major step in our journey, and we look forward to receiving your feedback about how we can continue to make improvements.
The Athera Team