International teams collaborate securely on advanced 3D animation

Snowball Studios, a leading animation studio in Israel, produces 3D animation and visual effects for film, TV, commercials and computer games for top brands. Snowball combines international creative talent with modern technology and manages the creative process from Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and Toronto.

Snowball Studios teams collaborate securely on advanced 3D animation

The Challenge

The Snowball team needed a better remote access solution that would improve security and the user experience, while requiring less management.

At Snowball, remote access is an integral part of their collaborative work processes. Employees and freelancers collaborate in small groups on animation and visual effects projects for customers. Data sharing is facilitated by a homegrown project management system called Harmonica, which is hosted on AWS servers in Dublin, Ireland, and connected to the office via a VPN.

When working remotely, team members used a Fortigate VPN to access a remote desktop in the Tel Aviv or Toronto office. From there, they accessed rendering servers in the office, as well as the Harmonica system in the cloud.

Snowball’s remote access work patterns presented IT with several challenges:

  • Management: Managing hundreds of Fortinet clients for employees was time-consuming and unsustainable for the IT team.
  • Security: Access to the Harmonica AWS system was cumbersome to manage and not secured. Users connected to the main office with a VPN and, from there, another VPN tunnel connected to the cloud-based Harmonica system.
  • End-user experience: Users working from home with the Fortinet client experienced poor performance when remotely accessing their applications, which affected productivity.

The Solution

“The Proofpoint Meta solution was very easy to deploy and is far easier to manage than our former VPN solution. And just as important, our employees are happy to use it.” - Amit Adar, CIO

The Snowball IT group deployed the Proofpoint Meta Software-Defined Perimeter (SDP) solution as the secure platform for managing remote access to its offices and to its cloud-hosted project management system.

SDP is a cloud-based approach that provides secure access to remote applications by replacing VPN’s site-centric security model with an identity-based, zero-trust approach that enforces a customized policy for each user device.

Snowball quickly replaced the Fortinet VPN infrastructure with Proofpoint Meta. The Meta solution consists of a cloud network with points-of-presence (POPs) all over the world. Remote users connect to the network from the nearest POP, with all traffic flowing through the network and each user protected by a software-defined perimeter. IT administrators manage access policies using the Meta administrative console in the cloud, which provides a single point of management for all users.

Secure remote access to office applications: A MetaPort, a lightweight gateway, was installed at the Tel Aviv office data center. Users working from home connect to their desktop at the office using the Meta client (which replaces Forticlient) and experience improved performance, with all traffic secured. Every user device has a unique identity that is authenticated and authorized for maximum security.

Browser-based access to AWS project management: Snowball contractors and employees use MetaConnect, a clientless, browser-based access solution, to securely access the Harmonica project management system from anywhere in the world.

Onboarding and user management: Snowball’s IT administrators define access policies and employees independently onboard and connect to required data sources using the Meta client. Temporary or bring-your-own-device (BYOD) users can connect via the browser with no need for an agent.

The Results

Simplified management: Instead of repeatedly troubleshooting VPN client problems, administrators can quickly onboard new remote users within minutes and provide exact access permissions.

Enhanced security: Access to both the Harmonica system and data center is fully secured, with a complete audit trail.

Better user experience: Using Proofpoint Meta, users connect to the nearest POP to experience better performance and uninterrupted work, regardless of their location.