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Football tackles disaster recovery

Service providers become more widely used by NFL teams

By Sharon Fisher
November 10, 2006 12:00 PM ET

Computerworld -

Like many other organizations, the Baltimore Ravens took note of what happened to New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina last year and decided to take steps to prevent a similar occurrence, said Bill Jankowski, senior director of IT at the American Football Conference team. The professional sports team had been backing its data up to tape, but it moved to a combination hardware, software and service offering from AmeriVault Corp., he said.

The National Football League Inc. organization, which had about 200GB of stored data, started out with a 500GB system at AmeriVault and took an initial snapshot – which took about a day – and then shipped it to Waltham, Mass., to be loaded into the AmeriVault data centers, Jankowski said. It was then shipped back to Baltimore, and every night, any files that were changed during the day get backed up to the Massachusetts facility, he said. The data is also mirrored to a facility in Illinois, he added.

So what's in that 200GB? Much of it is the same sort of data one would find in any corporation: Microsoft Exchange, SQL Server and Access data and financial systems, Jankowski said. The organization also has a number of custom applications for functions such as college scouting, pro scouting and game analysis.

In addition, because it tracks injuries to players, the team is required to comply with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), Jankowski said. In fact, the organization is about to install a firewall for HIPAA compliance, he said. Also, because fans buy their tickets with credit cards, the team's SQL Server-based credit card information must also be encrypted to comply with privacy regulations, he said.

The AmeriVault system is also helping with compliance because some regulations require the team to have off-site backups, Jankowski said. Previously, the team used Symantec Corp.'s Backup Exec. The move to Amerivault "took care of a lot of things – backups, off-site storage and disaster recovery if something happened to our building," he said.

Pricing for the AmeriVault system is on a per-gigabyte basis and costs about $3,000 per month, Jankowski said. While it's an expense the team didn't have last year, it's also a comfort to know it's protected, he said.

The AmeriVault system does not include the 3TB of storage on two Dell Inc. RAID 5 servers that is used to create football videos and television shows, which is managed by a different group, Jankowski said. If the worst happened, Baltimore Ravens Ltd. would have to go through the painful process of redigitizing the original tapes of the games, he said.

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