Nasscom Forum 2012: Warner Bros remains bullish on investments, says Darcy Antonellis

Nasscom Forum 2012: Warner Bros remains bullish on investments, says Darcy Antonellis

Warner Bros' President (Technical Operations) Darcy Antonellis spoke to Business Today on the studio's spending plans for 2012 and why she is bullish about cloud services. Excerpts:

Goutam Das
Darcy Antonellis is president of Warner Bros' technical operations and is responsible for setting the technology roadmap for the studio. She spoke to
Business Today on the studio's spending plans for 2012 and why she is bullish about cloud services.  

Q. Where do you plan to spend you technology purse this year?
We are spending a lot of money, time and focus on digital distribution; building infrastructure to support moving of content globally in a secure and cost effective way. On the business to business side, that includes supporting areas like production and pre-distribution, and operations to support localisation.

The challenge is that the file size of the content we are sending around can be quite large and challenge traditional networks. We are spending a lot of time on optimisation of those areas.

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Another focus area is data mining and asset management. What everyone has learnt is that in the digital distribution space, asset management and meta data are critical.

We now have a project launched for next generation digital archive. Warner Bros has a significant library - one of the largest of all studios with 7,100 titles and 65,000 hours of television programming. We have launched a project called Born Digital to create the next generation studio archive.

We're also focussing on investments in the direct to consumer intiatives which requires build outs on the hosting side, use of cloud services and application development among others.
Warner Bros' President (Technical Operations) Darcy Antonellis
Q. Give us a sense of your IT budgets and how it would trend this year.
It is going to be flat to increasing. This is not a time for not investing because of the transition to digital. Infrastructure needs dictate that we make the necessary investments. We have built the digital supply chain already. But there is a series of enhancements and new systems we need to build to service digital clients end-to-end. We remain bullish on our investments.
Q. Has the company tried using business platforms to variablize costs?
We have significant relationships here for our financial operations, SAP support and BPO support with Capgemini. There are also admin processes supported. We are spending a lot of time on how to optimise these across Time Warner now. From there on, you could see us working on business platforms. I think platforms definitely make sense.
Q. Are you comfortable consuming services from the public cloud and not just a private one?
Absolutely. However, this is not a view shared by every studio. There is a significant difference of opinion in utilization of cloud services, where they make sense and where they don't. I am a huge proponent. We have one of the most active websites that is wholly supported through cloud services - I did that because I did not want to build the traditional rack and stack infrastructure; you can't build enough to support demand. The site is about news and topical, so if there is a big hit, there is no way you could adequately scale without using cloud.

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Q. Are other studios worried about data integrity and privacy?
Generally, the industry is concerned about these issues as well. With respect to cloud services, the biggest concerns I have heard from others have been about reliability.

Q. Apart from Capgemini, which service providers do you engage with?
We have relationships with Accenture, Cognizant, HP and IBM among others.
Q. Have you floated request for proposals (RFPs) on the new initiatives that you spoke about?
We open new RFPs all the time. There is traditional IT business systems work; and then there is everything we do in technology and R&D, for production and distribution. The skill sets required can be quite diverse. We open RFPs and put them out to companies who have subject matter expertise and skills for a given area we are focussing on. We have RFPs out for digital archive, for instance.

Q. What is the size of these projects?
They are variable, from a smaller engagement on professional services worth hundreds of thousands of dollars to in excess of $10 million.