DreamWorks Animation and NetApp Extend Their Strategic Partnership

DreamWorks Animation and NetApp Extend Their Strategic Partnership

The News: NetApp and DreamWorks Animation recently extended their strategic alliance with a multi-year partnership, bringing together engineers from both organizations focused on data management in a hybrid cloud environment. See the complete press release about the partnership extension on the NetApp website.

DreamWorks Animation and NetApp Strategic Partnership – A Look at the Long-Term Relationship

Analyst Take: The NetApp and DreamWorks Animation relationship extends over 25 years, first with DreamWorks as a NetApp customer, and then later as a strategic partnership. I recently had the opportunity to talk to the NetApp team supporting the partnership and gain insight into its progression. Over the 25 years, every computer-generated “CG” film produced by DreamWorks has used NetApp. These titles include the beloved How to Train Your Dragon, Puss in Boots, and Shrek, among many others.

At the beginning of the relationship, there were a few films in development each year. Today, DreamWorks not only produces full-feature CG films but is also supporting the TV animation production for its parent company, NBCUniversal Comcast. DreamWorks also went through physical location changes. At one point, locations were scattered around the world, but the company eventually consolidated its headquarters in Los Angeles. Strategically, DreamWorks decided not to build additional data centers, but rather to expand into the cloud – both private and public.

Full-feature CG films often take 4 years or more to make and, at peak requirements of rendering, require significant capacity for both compute and data. (And we will not even mention the data growth!) One can imagine the flexibility and agility requirements the systems must respond to when performance directly impacts production and creativity. These technology and business pressures are what is underlying the strategic partnership.

As mentioned above, this partnership is a joint engineering alliance to address the hybrid cloud requirements and the performance, with a focus on building an environment that is an extension of on-premises data management capabilities. In addition to co-engineering, DreamWorks maintains a living lab dedicated to the joint development. While the partners would not reveal what is under development, they did cite some key technologies that we see as being of strategic and financial value.

  1. Ability to tier data more efficiently through the use of FabricPools from the NetApp All-Flash Array to StorageGrid, the company’s object storage offering.
  2. Easily extend applications to the cloud with the use of a single storage operating system “ONTAP” to Azure using Azure NetApp Files or other clouds with NetApp Cloud Volumes.

Today, most all of NetApp’s products are in production or resident in the DreamWorks lab. This includes the E-Series for Post-Production work and StorageGrid, which replaced the tape environment for short-term archive and long-term asset preservation. A note on the tape: when DreamWorks could not obtain the necessary equipment due to COVID affected logistics, it accelerated the planned move to build a tapeless environment and increase the use of StorageGrid to meet key goals.

At its core, the NetApp and DreamWorks Animation partnership stands as a testament to innovation and creative collaboration, using technological realms to sculpt a future where imagination knows no bounds.

Disclosure: The Futurum Group is a research and advisory firm that engages or has engaged in research, analysis, and advisory services with many technology companies, including those mentioned in this article. The author does not hold any equity positions with any company mentioned in this article.

Analysis and opinions expressed herein are specific to the analyst individually and data and other information that might have been provided for validation, not those of The Futurum Group as a whole.

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Author Information

Camberley Bates

Camberley brings over 25 years of executive experience leading sales and marketing teams at Fortune 500 firms. Before joining The Futurum Group, she led the Evaluator Group, an information technology analyst firm as Managing Director.

Her career has spanned all elements of sales and marketing including a 360-degree view of addressing challenges and delivering solutions was achieved from crossing the boundary of sales and channel engagement with large enterprise vendors and her own 100-person IT services firm.

Camberley has provided Global 250 startups with go-to-market strategies, creating a new market category “MAID” as Vice President of Marketing at COPAN and led a worldwide marketing team including channels as a VP at VERITAS. At GE Access, a $2B distribution company, she served as VP of a new division and succeeded in growing the company from $14 to $500 million and built a successful 100-person IT services firm. Camberley began her career at IBM in sales and management.

She holds a Bachelor of Science in International Business from California State University – Long Beach and executive certificates from Wellesley and Wharton School of Business.


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