Disney Selects Its Key Software Partner

In the world of entertainment, the modern era has belonged to Disney.  The company has churned out hit after hit with its indelible franchises (Avengers, Lion King, Toy Story, Frozen, Descendents, etc.) that have a run rate with both child and adult audiences that goes on for years and years.  The genius of Bob Iger can not be overstated.  He has institutionalized the creativity, production and promotion processes for a product that reaches billions of people around the world. 

As one can imagine, the company uses an immense amount of data, storage and computing power when producing its movies.  Managing the technological needs of a media project is a large job of its own, particularly when taking into the account of the risks of losing data or having content leaked or stolen.  Moreover, considering Disney typically has large teams that need to collaborate across various geographic locations, keeping electronic files organized and protected is of paramount importance. 

Disney recently announced that it would partner with Microsoft on its cloud needs.  It will move key parts of its movie-making and distribution processes to the cloud.  The partnership comes with a five year term and is spearheaded by Disney’s internal innovation incubation lab known as StudioLab.  The ultimate goal is to use Microsoft’s Azure cloud platform from end to end or “from screen to screen”. 

Walt Disney Studios chief technology officer Jamie Voris commented with Variety, “There are tons of benefits of being in the cloud,” pointing to an initial directive to move some of the studio’s editing to the cloud – such editing will be aided by Microsoft’s existing partnership with creative tools specialist Avid.  The benefits of cloud-based editing are straightforward - Walt Disney Studios will more easily collaborate across multiple locations.  Voris explains, “We can be on a set in Australia and editing in Burbank…Filmmaking is a global process.”

Microsoft US President Kate Johnson is bullish on the media sector and the Disney partnership, “It really feels like we are at the tipping point for cloud in media and entertainment.”  Johnson also commented on the fact that its biggest cloud competitors, Amazon and Google, have media operations themselves and may not be the best partner for a company like Disney as there could be temptation to take key learnings and data for their own ambitions. 

Microsoft was quick to identify and embrace media as a strategic growth opportunity early on.  “We like to think of us as the platform cloud for media and entertainment,” Johnson stated.