NetApp CEO George Kurian & SVP Anthony Lye at NetApp Insight

Seeing big possibilities for innovation in cloud compute and storage, companies are turning to the hybrid, multi-cloud model and its capabilities to solve thorny business problems in inspiring, creative ways. If you attended our NetApp Insight 2018 conference in October, you may have learned from the keynote address that entertainment leader DreamWorks uses the hybrid cloud this way, as does biotechnology company WuXi NextCODE.


Here’s an overview of the technologies that inspire them to innovate and go beyond the horizon in the cloud.

The Hybrid Cloud Story at NetApp Insight 2018

Everywhere we went around the Insight floor, we were hearing about how the opportunities and options in the hybrid cloud are changing the face of business. As NetApp’s Brendon Howe, GM and SVP of Cloud Data Services noted during an Insight interview, “It’s been clear to us for a while now that the whole dynamic and movement to cloud is probably the most disruptive and most impactful thing that’s hit traditional IT.”


As NetApp’s founder and EVP, Dave Hitz, explained, the hybrid cloud isn’t about choosing between having all your data in data centers or having it in the public cloud. “When something as disruptive as the cloud comes along,” he said, “it’s tempting to say that you’re just going to focus on all the opportunities in the new thing. But there’s always another opportunity, and that’s to look at the space between the old and the new and figure out how can you make them work together. The Data Fabric strategy is about which model offers your business more innovation and speed. Best of all, if you make a mistake, the Data Fabric makes it possible for you to change your mind later.”

DreamWorks and WuXi NextCODE: Innovating in the Cloud for Entertainment and Health

Animation studio-turned-entertainment giant DreamWorks needs to keep 5 billion active production files accessible to artists anywhere in the world, as Kate Swanborg, senior vice president of technology communications and strategic alliances at DreamWorks, explained in the Insight 2018 keynote address.



“Dreamworks Animation has used NetApp technology solutions on every single one of our CG films since the beginning of our studio and NetApp solutions are still the foundational infrastructure for our entire filmmaking pipeline,” Swanborg shared, adding that


DreamWorks’ is evolving its content across platforms and experiences, moving from films and TV series into theme parks, live entertainment, VR and beyond.


Data underpins all of these touchpoints, driving the DreamWorks brand around the world; and Swanborg explained that this digital transformation means not only making content available to more artists across more platforms but also preserving it for the next platform.  “We believe in NetApp’s trajectory and their vision for seamless data management across on-prem and cloud infrastructures, essentially a Data Fabric, that will allow us to make better business decisions,” she explained.


Biotechnology company WuXi NextCODE uses genomic data to propel the next generation of transformative therapies. With so many mysteries to solve, it needs to store and manage genomic data that doesn’t stop growing. Their platform organizes, mines, shares and applies genomic data—and the hybrid cloud has inspired the WuXI team to innovate in the critical area of analyzing mutations.


“The genomic data on 100,000 individuals amounts to 200 million different mutations,” says Hákon Guðbjartsson, PhD, chief informatics officer at WuXi NextCODE. “We analyze the frequency of mutations in a population as a matrix with 20 trillion data points, or about 50 TB. We tried self-managed storage, but we weren’t able to complete our analysis.”  So they turned to Netapp. “We imported our data set into NetApp cloud volumes, and the first time we ran our query on the NetApp file system, it completed without problems in less than 45 minutes,” Guðbjartsson shared. “The better performance, the reduced complexity, and the higher reliability make a big difference for us. We are very happy to partner with NetApp to help us enable other life science companies to use genomics to improve people’s health.”

Hyperscalers for Hyper Flexibility

NetApp partners with three major public cloud providers, Google Cloud Platform (GCP), Amazon Web Services (AWS), and Microsoft Azure, for service at hyperscale. High-speed access to these services give organizations the full power of the hyperscaler compute layer without the limitations of hyperscaler storage. Through hyperscale services, companies can use these partners as a more powerful, flexible, and cost-efficient replacement for their traditional virtualization infrastructure, with little or no effect on their day-to-day operations.


“I think that’s what the cloud has done, it’s democratized and empowered many people to consume technology that prior to these big public clouds you’d have to go to IT and wait six months and get charged a lot of money,” Lye shared at a Google event held earlier in the year.  “The cloud makes everything instantly available, it’s wonderful.”


And given how inspired we were by companies like DreamWorks and Wuxi NextCODE who are innovating in the cloud, we think “wonderful” is an apt description for where things are headed.


Visit NetApp’s NetApp’s Cloud Data Services pages to more about how the hybrid cloud can fit in with your organization’s data strategy and goals.

Kelli Lawless

Kelli Lawless is NetApp’s Head of Editorial Content and Strategy. In her time with NetApp, she has led several pilot programs and works closely with executives, partners, and customers to identify thought leaders with inspiring technology stories. In the past 20 years, Kelli has helped iconic brands find their voice, played in instrumental role in award-winning campaigns, and cultivated a deep passion for creating content that helps business leaders learn from each other.

When Kelli’s not honing her storytelling craft, you’ll find her playing on the beach with her two senior dogs, hosting dinner parties for friends, or exploring remote reef systems with her scuba-diving husband.

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