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HP Networking at Interop Spring 2012, Part III

Part III: DreamWorks Animation Studios

I was at Interop Spring 2012 in Las Vegas, Nevada. That event has generated a series of blog posts

This is Part III.


Without a doubt, the DreamWorks journey to choosing and implementing HP Networking into their infrastructure was the best part of HP Networking’s story at Interop 2012

DreamWorks Animation Studios is a company that fascinates me. Apart from being at the vanguard of both animated feature films, it is also a pioneer in animated 3D movies: it was the first studio to move wholesale to only making 3D releases. That decision was unprecedented, and served as a beacon to other animation studios as to where to go.

However, my fascination goes beyond that.

DreamWorks Animation is a technology leader. In software and hardware, this company is no slouch. Better than that, DreamWorks moves technology forward, and allows it to be saturated to all the other players in that space.


From their decision to move off proprietary architectures and standardize on x86, to selecting Red Hat Linux (ewww, gross!), to all of the revolutionary advances above, DreamWorks has been a selfless leader. It has partnered with various hardware and software OEMs to create technology that it has allowed to be offered to all other studios. That position has allowed the entire industry to move forward, and be more creative.

Over the past few years, I have enjoyed the privilege of visiting the beautiful DreamWorks Animation Studios in Glendale, and hearing both DreamWorks CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg and CIO Ed Leonard talk about their technology, and how it speeds up their movie making.

What was always impressive though, was the fact that they stressed they were utilizing all that technology to do just one thing: allow the creative to do their job.

They love technology, but thy only love it to the extent that it stays out of the way of the creative types working at the studios.

That shows that DreamWorks gets ‘it’!


Coming back to Interop Spring 2012: at the event, I had the opportunity to be briefed by Bethany Mayer, Senior VP and General Manager of HP Networking, and Derek Chan, Head of Global Technology Operations at DreamWorks Animation Studios about their recent decision to convert all their networking to HP Networking

This is h-u-g-e, huge.

Imagine a company like DreamWorks Animation, a company at the forefront of technology and the leader in the animated feature film industry moving all their switching and routing to HP from the market leader is bound to make waves.

According to Derek, at any given time, DreamWorks animation has about 10 movies in several stages of production, each sized at about 200 TB, that have to be moved back and forth between studio locations and datacenters.

Unfortunately for DreamWorks, they started to experience some latency in networking which were unacceptable. For a company depending on cloud-enabled production to improve their film production, the situation was quite unsatisfactory.

Resultantly, DreamWorks started looking to eliminate that latency.

In the process of testing and validating available products, DreamWorks decided to give HP Networking a go.

HP Networking switches performed the best, and as an added bonus, had more than expected headroom for the future, said Derek. Those performance gains, coupled with the reliability of HP Networking products, gave DreamWorks the confidence to initiate a pilot project with HP Switches at their new Northern California studio.

When it proved capable, a decision was made to commence a replacement of all networking assets to HP Networking. Subsequently, all global networking assets for DreamWorks were converted to HP Networking, as shown in the graphic above.

That decision is quite startling. Especially in networking where vendor lock-in is the norm. Then again, DreamWorks is not a typical IT consumer.

With HP Networking products joining HP Personal Workstations, HP Proliant servers, and HP 3PAR storage at DreamWorks, the benefits of HP Converged Infrastructure seems to be becoming evident at DreamWorks, which itself is a top-shelf technology consumer.

Over the next few months, I shall keep an eye on this development, and I hope to be able to bring more information to you.


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