Red Sox Hook Up NAS for Home Runs

World champions upgrade to NAS for players' video archive system

March 4, 2008

4 Min Read
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While the Boston Red Sox were sweeping the Colorado Rockies to win the 2007 World Series, Red Sox IT director Steve Conley was wrestling with a unique challenge of his own.

"The SAN that we travel with, we outgrew," explains Conley, referring to an EMC Clariion-based system the team had used for video archiving since 2004. "Baseball guys are just like any other typical user in regards to storage -- you can never have enough."

With Red Sox coaching staff and team members keen to gain a competitive edge over their rivals, the 5-Tbyte Clariion CX500 had quickly filled up with video of Red Sox players and competitors.

"From a baseball standpoint, there's no bad video, they want to store it as long as they can," says Conley, estimating that the team generates about 2.5 Tbytes of video each year. "We were out of storage -- I would have had to add more storage, which would add weight."

The solution came in the form of an NS20 Celerra NAS system, also from EMC, which was delivered in January."We now have 10 Tbytes, instead of five," says Conley, explaining that the shift from SAN to NAS has also reduced the system's weight from 250 to 200 pounds, a critical factor in his decision to upgrade.

The exec explains that by replacing the Clariion's Fibre Channel drives with the NS20's smaller, lighter, 1-Tbyte SATA drives, he has been able to both increase capacity and (literally) ease the strain on his staff.

"We have 81 road games, and, hopefully, another three road trips after the end of the season to make it all the way to the World Series," he says, estimating that as many as 15 different people have to handle the archive system when it is on the road.

The NS20's Clariion predecessor suffered a scare when it was dropped 14 feet at Baltimore airport in 2005, so Conley is only too aware of the need to make the system easy to handle.

"We travel with more equipment than most teams in baseball," he says, explaining that the NS20 has to be carried up steps at a number of the clubhouses that the team visits.The NS20, which travels with an HP Proliant server and a number of laptops, is currently being tested at the Red Sox training camp in Fort Myers, Fla., although Conley is preparing the video archive for its toughest test yet.

Later this month the Red Sox travel to Tokyo for their season-opener versus the Oakland A's, and the IT director is already working out how to get the system up and running at the Tokyo Dome.

"The tough part is that the Japanese clubhouse is not used to teams that travel with this type of technology," explains Conley, adding that he is getting special plugs from EMC to hook the system up to Japan's 100 Amp power circuits.

The exec would not reveal how much he paid EMC for the NAS system, although pricing for the NS20 typically starts at around $32,000. Conley nonetheless hinted that the Red Sox got a deal from the storage vendor, which has a sponsorship agreement with the world champions.

"We did a pretty decent deal with them," he says.Long-term, the Red Sox IT director is already planning how to deal with advancements in video technology. "Our biggest concern is, as high-definition video comes into play, you could probably expect 30 to 40 percent growth of your file size," explains Conley.

The IT director has not yet deployed high-definition video on the team's mobile archive, largely because he is waiting for storage vendors to ramp up their drive technologies.

"I am always going to want to see bigger, faster, drives that use less power and weigh less," says the exec. "I just hope that the growth curve of drives and video stays in lockstep."

From his office in the bowels of Fenway, Conley explained that the mobile video archive is just one of the major storage projects on his plate at the moment.

"We're in the process of moving to an outsourced data center," he says, explaining that the Red Sox will be moving the stadium's high-end Clariion system to a site in downtown Boston."There's better use for space in the ballpark than building a new computer room -- they are finding new ways to put fan amenities in," says the exec, adding that the move to the outsourced data center is expected to be completed by the end of this month, prior to opening day.

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  • EMC Corp. (NYSE: EMC)

  • Hewlett-Packard Co.

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