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Super Storage: A Fan’s View of the NFL’s Data Storage

February 11th, 2014

Like most Americans, I recently watched the biggest, boldest, and coldest event in American football: Super Bowl XLVIII with 112.2 million of my closest “friends”.

But even if you didn’t get excited about the big game, you might still be interested to learn about the role of data storage for the most-watched television program in American history.

During the week leading up to the Super Bowl, I had the privilege to help ring the opening bell at the NASDAQ MarketSite in New York City — and what an experience! I also had the opportunity to chat with the NFL’s Director of Information Technology, Aaron Amendolia, to explore how they leverage NetApp storage systems for data management.

It starts with 40 NetApp FAS2200 Series storage systems that store, protect, and serve data to all 32 NFL teams, thousands of personnel, and millions of fans. For example:

Want player stats during the game? All game play raw data is instantly available and served by NetApp storage systems.

Like those action shots? Television and newspaper photographers take hundreds of thousands of photos and videographers capture high-definition video of regular-season games, the playoffs, and the Super Bowl – all stored on NetApp storage systems.

See someone wearing a badge? NetApp provides the infrastructure that supports security credentialing for everyone from hot dog vendors to the NFL commissioner.

I also learned that the NFL leverages the entire protocol stack (both SAN and NAS), with over 90% of their infrastructure running virtual machines on NetApp storage systems.

Yet, every Super Bowl is unique.

The NFL’s end-users are often located in hotels with high-latency connections; hardware is subjected to harsh environments usually not found within most datacenters (soda can spills, dirt, grit, etc.). The good news is that SnapMirror, the replication software built into Data ONTAP, allows the NFL to failover in the event of a problem.

In fact, they regularly test their disaster recovery plans with (live) failover and failback.

Sure, your favorite team may not have made it to the Super Bowl this year, but the partnership with the NFL and its 32 teams doesn’t end with the Super Bowl. It’s still business-as-usual for the NFL’s IT infrastructure: updating playbooks, streaming video, etc.

All of which require a super storage platform like NetApp: the official data storage provider of the NFL.

Geek ONTAP, General

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