Data storage

Streamlined 49ers Field Data Storage

As NFL teams return to the field and fans return to the stands, the team behind the scenes at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif., is tightening its data game by adopting a consolidated storage resource .

Jim Mercurio, executive vice president and general manager of Levi’s Stadium, said they turned to hybrid cloud data storage company Qumulo to provide data storage upgrades and updates for the footage from security cameras and other requests. “We had to find a way to consolidate some of the storage that, unbeknownst to me, was really siloed at the time,” he says. “Being able to eliminate five racks of equipment and not have 54 verticals or silos which could be difficult to manage, allows you to expand your other resource types.”

The stadium ingests more than 44 terabytes of data per day, he says, which includes video, video analytics, as well as backing up historic team photographs accumulated over the years. Before leveraging Qumulo to consolidate storage, the data captured at the stadium was a bit scattered.

Mercurio says one of the goals of opening Levi’s Stadium, home of the San Francisco 49ers football team in 2014, was to make the venue one of the first of its generation in terms of technology. “We really focused on sustaining this stadium as best we could,” he says. Several years later, it finally became necessary to re-evaluate how some of this technology was implemented. Also, the old data storage resource was nearing its end of life. This led to the arrival of Qumulo, Mercurio says. “We said, ‘Hey, we have 54 different types of vertical storage here, can you help us?'”

With the current NFL season underway, he sees possibilities for next year as the country continues to reorient itself in light of the pandemic. The stadium could see 10 to 12 NFL games in 2022, Mercurio says, along with four to five other large-scale events such as concerts and football games. Special events held at the stadium, which can be smaller-scale meetings with 30 people or corporate parties with 2,500 attendees, can be over 100–200 a year under more normal circumstances. “We compared ourselves to a mid-sized convention center,” he says. Although the pandemic has hampered everyone’s operations, Mercurio says Levi’s Stadium is considering resuming the special and catering events it would host.

Activity at the stadium extends beyond NFL games, with Levi’s Stadium serving as an office for operations such as security, public relations, broadcast and marketing. There may be more possibilities ahead for data and information captured on the site, Mercurio says. “The next phase that I think I could see us moving into is game footage for coaches and things of that nature.” Moving to consolidated data storage can help protect this data as well as other business use cases. “Stadiums aren’t just used for Sundays at 1 p.m. anymore,” he says. “These are buildings that are in permanent use and not just for sport; for non-NFL events.

When creating a technology game plan for Levi’s Stadium, Mercurio said it was important to go beyond new innovations just for fun. Finding technology resources to help solve the problems became the goal, he says. For example, there was a prior debate about whether the stadium would use turnstiles to control entry. “So we chose portable devices,” says Mercurio. This plan has since evolved. This year, Levi’s Stadium instituted turnstiles, self-service kiosks that can scan and can be a frictionless technology used by ticket holders.

The accumulation of data from an ever-growing stream of sources has driven Levi’s Stadium to continue to adapt its digital landscape. “This technology impacts your Wi-Fi needs, your storage needs, your communication needs, your infrastructure needs,” Mercurio says. “The reliance on data storage for facial recognition is so massive.” With security measures such as magnetometers, facial recognition and license plate readers becoming more intrinsic to the management of such sites, this increases the demand for data consolidation and for the IT team to play a important role in operations, he said.

Data and analytics are now more valued from a business perspective, Mercurio says, for decision-making and a better understanding of the demographics of people in the stadium and tailored offerings to reduce unnecessary costs and increase benefits. income. “It gives you the ability to streamline things and the [food] menu items that your customers really want,” he says. “Data allows you to do that.”

Mercurio says the transition to Qumulo is still ongoing and so far has been pretty seamless. The move offered flexibility, he says, while addressing cybersecurity concerns. It has also helped ongoing collaborative efforts between stadium operations which include guest services, food and beverage, security, the ground crew, engineers, business and analytics, legal and finances. “Anything you can do to improve customer experience and service, the 49ers and Levi’s Stadium are committed to doing,” he said.

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