SAN FRANCISCO: Six Flags, the world's largest theme park company, says it has embraced cloud collaboration in areas of its business ranging from rollercoaster design to elephant welfare as it seeks to offload more of its data into the cloud with Box.
Sean Andersen, Six Flags' director of interactive services, told V3 that the strength of the Box cloud collaboration platform came into its own when working with external partners.
"We use it in corporate alliances and in sponsorship schemes where we're constantly moving assets from advertising agencies and sponsors," he explained. With screens spread all over the company's 18 theme parks, Sean and his teams needed a simple solution to get large video files from their sponsors to the guests, and they chose Box to do so. "Being able to move assets both for our customers internally and to take our sponsorship assets and to show them [on digital screens] in the parks, we have to use Box."
Furthermore, Six Flags' construction contractors are making use of cloud collaboration services when sending over designs for new rides, with files of this type being handled almost entirely externally.
The use of Box among employees has become so widespread – despite Six Flags not insisting its staff use the service – that other similar systems have been pushed to the sidelines. "We did a SharePoint 2010 implementation early on, which we're finally sunsetting this year," Anderson said.
Not everything Six Flags does is based on cloud computing, with plenty of data stored in house, as Anderson explained: "We have a fair amount of NetApp storage in house so sharing documents is not a problem, but we don't have the collaboration on those so we rely on Box for that. It's the external collaboration where it makes the most sense."
"In some areas it makes sense to move all data to the cloud, but we have policies too. From a retention perspective we need to keep documents which are long term internally; if it has to do with financial information we'll keep it in house. But it doesn't always have to be like that, and it's something that's on my roadmap and on my chief information officer's roadmap in choosing how we classify documents going forward," he said.
Andersen is also hoping to move some of Six Flags' more unusual activities to the cloud, such as looking after some of the company's wildlife. "They have animals like dolphins and elephants from which they need to take large x-rays, so we're working with these huge 15GB files. We're anxious to see what Box announces this week to see if we can get those teams to collaborate more."
Box announced yesterday that it would be answering the calls of similar use cases, with the option of adding much richer metadata to files, allowing files – such as x-rays – to be given a lot more context for the teams working with them.
Six Flags has found less use for such services in the customer-facing operations of the park, said Andersen, with guests mostly foregoing mobile apps to navigate their way around the parks, instead resorting to old-fashioned paper maps. Furthermore, the use of mobile devices among staff is also discouraged, with customer-facing employees facing sanctions if they are caught looking at their phones and tablets.
Even augmented reality, a concept many might see as perfectly suited to navigating theme parks, is struggling to find a place where guests tend to take in the experience without digital aids. "I bring my Google Glass to the park and I'll try to experiment walking around, but it gets in the way – you want to have that experience for yourself while you're there."
Andersen was speaking to V3 at BoxWorks, San Francisco.
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