Next Limit: Powering the next generation of 3D visualization technologies

About Next Limit

With 20 years of experience, Next Limit is a leader in high-fidelity simulation and visualization technologies, having developed world renowned products such as RealFlow and Maxwell Render. It oversees the research and development of new and innovative technologies that are applicable in a wide range of industries, from design to autonomous systems and data analytics.

Industries: Technology
Location: Spain

Next Limit implements Google Cloud Platform to power its new 3D visualization solutions BeGraph and ANYVERSE, enabling quick and easy scaling to meet customer demand and reduce costs.

Google Cloud Results

  • Offers faster deployment to enable the BeGraph tool to produce complex 3D networks on demand
  • Builds in flexibility to answer customers' needs with the ability to easily upgrade to a more powerful machine
  • Reduces cost to income ratio by 25%, enabling accessible price points for customers, as well as better margins

Deployment time down by a third

With over 20 years' experience in 3D visualization, Next Limit has conquered the world of 3D visual design and computer graphics with its award winning tools that include Maxwell Render, used by architects to create realistic images of houses, and RealFlow, used in the film effects industry. In 2008, the company was awarded a Technical Achievement Academy Award for its contribution to Hollywood films such as Lord of the Rings: Return of the King. "We're very proud of those tools," says Victor Gonzalez, CEO and Founder at Next Limit. "But we also want to explore new applications for our technology that can help a broad range of industries."

"We're focusing on two main areas of innovation: big data analysis and artificial intelligence. Google Cloud Platform will enable us to evolve our technologies into new business environments. In fact, without cloud technology, the new tools we're developing simply wouldn't be possible."

Victor Gonzalez, CEO and Founder, Next Limit

"The idea is to expand the potential market for our services, as the graphic visualization market has been increasingly saturated," says Victor. "We began exploring new fields and realized we could adapt our core technologies, which manipulate and visualize data, to fields as diverse as finance, smart marketing, and medicine by using the performance capabilities of the cloud."

In order to power its new tools — BeGraph for data network analysis and ANYVERSE, a high-fidelity synthetic solution for machine perception — Next Limit needed to find a way of processing very large amounts of data, and to be able to scale quickly. Choosing Google Cloud Platform (GCP) was the right fit to provide the processing power it needs.

"We're focusing on two main areas of innovation: big data analysis and artificial intelligence. Google Cloud Platform will enable us to evolve our technologies into new business environments," says Victor. "In fact, without cloud technology, the new tools we're developing simply wouldn't be possible."

Scaling up in seconds for 3D network visualization

Graphic visualization products have to not only produce the best possible effects, but also to answer specific customer needs. "Ultimately, we want to create a tool that offers fantastic performance, but at an accessible price point, and that can be tailored to different customer requirements," explains Monica Gonzalez, Head of Strategic Partnerships at Next Limit. Around a year and a half ago, while developing its BeGraph and ANYVERSE tools, Next Limit began looking for a cloud provider that offered the flexibility to scale quickly and easily, at a price point that kept the tool competitive.

"We looked at other leading competitors, but GCP was the one that answered our requirements for instant scaling," says Victor. "Over the past year, we have migrated all our previous environments and infrastructure over."

For BeGraph, its new 3D data visualization product, Next Limit has to process large connected data sets very quickly, in order to map connections between nodes and then make it available to the user. "We use Compute Engine for the instance groups and App Engine for the frontend," says Manuel Godino, Cloud System Manager at Next Limit. "We also use Container Registry, and Cloud Datastore to serve configurations for the machines."

"We need to be able to set up machines very quickly for BeGraph to answer demand, and Compute Engine lets us do that within seconds. That means we can spin up virtual machines when we need them, which enables us to keep costs down."

Victor Gonzalez, CEO and Founder, Next Limit

"Thanks to GCP, BeGraph customers can access a very powerful network visualization tool through their own standard computer," explains Victor. "They can gain valuable insights into extensive networks, revealing patterns that it wouldn't be possible to visualize on a standard graph."

"For example, you can map a social media network, with people as nodes, and relationships or connections as links, so you can easily identify clusters or see important connectors between two different clusters," he explains. "A network like that might have around 4,000 nodes and 88,000 links, and that would take around 10 or 15 minutes to produce from the file to the final visualization. Another possible application is disease analysis, in order to find patterns in the distribution of diseases. That network might have 200,000 nodes and 2 million links, and would take 30 to 45 minutes to set up."

"We need to be able to set up machines very quickly for BeGraph to answer demand, and Compute Engine lets us do that within seconds," says Victor. "That means we can spin up virtual machines when we need them, which enables us to keep costs down."

Powering 3D world simulations

For Next Limit's new ANYVERSE tool, currently in development, it was the ability to create a stable environment of any size that meant GCP was the right choice. "Our innovative technology generates high-fidelity physics-based datasets for the training of perception-based systems such as autonomous vehicles. The platform allows you to visually create in 3D any plausible scenario thus covering the ground of potentially critical situations occurring in real life," says Carlos Lopes, Product Manager at Next Limit.

"In order for an autonomous car to be sufficiently trained, we need to simulate millions of environments and create a complete world. You would need a thousand physical computers to do that, it simply wouldn't be possible without the processing power offered by GCP," he explains. "We're currently using Cloud Functions and we are exploring using Kubernetes Engine with GPUs in the future."

"Google Cloud Platform is more than a service provider, it offers core technologies that are crucial for powering our new tools. It enables us to control our infrastructure costs and margins, which is critical in order to help us to expand our business to new sectors."

Victor Gonzalez, CEO and Founder, Next Limit

Reducing costs and deployment times

Since moving to GCP, Next Limit has reduced its costs and its deployment times, both essential to meeting the needs of its customers. "We have reduced the time of deployment of a machine by around a third for smaller machines, as the pull up time went from 1 minute to 15 seconds," says Monica. "For the most powerful machines, we've reduced processing time by one quarter."

"In terms of cost, we've obtained a reduction of around 25 percent of our cost to income ratio," adds Victor. "That means we can adapt our capability to offer these kinds of tools in different markets. With GCP, we can also easily tailor our machine provision to the customer by selecting a more powerful machine, if the customer wants to generate millions of nodes on BeGraph, for example."

Now, Next Limit plans to use more GCP tools and improve its machine learning pipeline. "We plan to start using Cloud Firestore, and explore using TensorFlow as part of our machine learning pipeline," says Carlos "It's very attractive as it's an opensource project that can easily connect with many of our customers' environments."

"Google Cloud Platform is more than a service provider, it offers core technologies that are crucial for powering our new tools." says Victor. "It enables us to control our infrastructure costs and margins, which is critical in order to help us to expand our business to new sectors."

About Next Limit

With 20 years of experience, Next Limit is a leader in high-fidelity simulation and visualization technologies, having developed world renowned products such as RealFlow and Maxwell Render. It oversees the research and development of new and innovative technologies that are applicable in a wide range of industries, from design to autonomous systems and data analytics.

Industries: Technology
Location: Spain
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Try Kubernetes Engine, BigQuery, and other Cloud Platform products with $300 in free credit and 12 months.

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