The San Francisco 49ers rely on the team — and technology — to win games. This is why the football franchise recently modernized its data center with Datrium hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI) for hybrid clouds running VMware’s virtualization software.
“With the hard salary cap in the NFL, the competitive advantage is very slim. But one area where we can see a competitive advantage is our technology partners,” said Brent Schoeb, VP of corporate partnerships at the 49ers. And this is why the 49ers chose Datrium as the team’s official converged infrastructure provider, he added.
The move started with the football team wanting to consolidate its legacy infrastructure. “The data storage piece, especially, needed some help,” Schoeb said. “We did an exhaustive search last year to find a partner, and that led us to Datrium. They really modernized our data center and also gives us a scalability factor.”
When asked which other vendors the team considered before choosing Datrium, Schoeb would not name names. He would only say that the 49ers looked at “almost everybody — some of the larger legacy vendors, some of the startups, and everyone in between.”
Datrium consolidate the workloads from eight legacy file and storage area network (SAN) arrays and 30 servers to two Datrium DVX systems running VMware vSphere. Each DVX can support up to 128 servers (compute nodes) and up to 10 data nodes.
The hyperconverged systems will keep video data in flash on the server to be used for pre-game preparation and game-time decision making.
“A lot of video is taken during games and practice, and we want to make sure we can feed our coaches that information in real-time,” Schoeb said. “With Datrium, their platform can feed our coaches in real time on game days while looking at replays and in practice as well.”
Datrium DVX will also support corporate applications, including the scouting database used for maintaining and serving statistics on college and NFL players in real time — a key tool during the NFL Draft and for other trade assessments.
“We had to make sure we could get all the video, the analytics, all the data our scouts have been preparing throughout the year, so when we’re on the clock on draft day we can make decisions really quickly and pull up anything we need in real time,” Schoeb said.
Trust was another important reason the nearly 75-year-old franchise chose Datrium, he added. “With our 70-plus year history here, we’ve become just as much a content company as we are a football team,” Schoeb said. “Years of photos and videos are being not only stored but also secured for historical reasons. That trust in Datrium is important to us.”
All data on the HCI systems is backed up daily to Datrium’s built-in backup catalog, validated multiple times per day with Blanket Verification, and secured end-to-end with Blanket Encryption.
And while it’s too early in the migration for hard performance improvement metrics, “based on what we’ve seen we’re shaving seconds off loading videos and also analytics and data for our coaches,” Schoeb said. “When your clock is five minutes to make a pick or decide on a play, every second is important.”