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SGI helps bring basketball to the masses

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SGI is usually known for its supercomputing projects but the National Basketball Association (NBA) in the US is using its knowledge of the challenges in high-density environments for a storage project that is revolutionizing the way the NBA delivers content.

Faced with a decaying library of more than 50 years of NBA video footage, which includes more than 500,000 hours of basketball games, six years ago the NBA embarked on a project to preserve and archive one of its greatest assets.

It led to a consolidation of the NBA’s data center infrastructure which previously ran in NBA locations across the country to a colocation facility in Secaucus, New Jersey.

All NBA locations were also linked with high bandwidth fiber and a new tiered storage system was introduced to allow fast and easy editing which in turn has turned its footage into a major money spinner.

The NBA has not stopped filming, and according to SGI global director of storage marketing Floyd Christofferson it produces about 38TB of footage each day.

“This now feeds all of the game content that comes in, which adds about 25,000 hours of new material each year in addition to the ongoing project which has been taking place for the last six years to digitize all older content,” Christofferson said.

SGI got involved in the project on day one, at which stage videos were edited digitally then placed back on tape creating a vast library.

“Before, three hours of game would take hours to load before it is edited. At this point no one else could use the content. Now all the editors have shared access and can start editing within seconds,” Christofferson said.

SGI introduced a tiered storage solution which is a combination of high-speed disk, flow-speed disk and tape that can appear as online disk files.

“You can use the primary disk for editing and high-speed access but then we created a hierarchy of storage that enables the NBA to digitize everything as though it were online without the high cost of online disk,” Christofferson said.

The project, which is now halfway complete, started as a 10Tb Storage Access Network but has grown as the project progesses to become multiple SANS that the SGI DMF tiered storage virtualisation software that can aggregate as a large storage pool.

This virtual environment has allowed the NBA to fund the project in stages, removing the pain of an upfront six-year fee for SGI’s work.

Christofferson said the NBA was quick to find ways of monetizing the project, generating revenue from its old archived content and pushing footage out to 215 countries over the course of the year.

“It has enabled anyone in any country to see a video clip in under 30 seconds, whereas before it would have taken the better part of a day,” Christofferson said.

Christofferson said while SGI is not known for its storage capabilities, it has numerous using DMF to deal with data in the areas of genomics and weather modelling.

“SGI has been in the Petabyte range of managing Big Data for years, because of our computing background,”Christofferson said.

“Although we are not known as a storage company, to keep up with the computing power that SGI systems and customers use, over the last 25 years we have developed an extremely rich ecosystem of storage and hardware and software products.”

 

Related images

  • SGI is working with the NBA to upgrade its digital content storage system. Image courtesy of the Creative Commons

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