IT and Sports: A Tale of Three Teams
Professional sports are big business. With teams looking for an edge both on and off the field, many clubs are embracing advancements in technology and big data to provide the best possible game-day experiences for players and fans. Not only is data being used to create championship-winning strategies, it’s also leveraged to better understand fan relations and ROIs and to gain insight into athletic performance during training sessions. This shift has led to the front offices of many franchises to embrace best-of-breed IT technologies that not only protect sensitive information, but help them unlock new business value from it.
Tampa Bay Rays Hit It Out-of-the-Park with Instant Data Recovery
From recruiting top athletes to game management, American baseball pioneered the use of data for on-field success. Many teams, like the Tampa Bay Rays, have scaled their IT infrastructure accordingly to store and manage critical statistics, including past season metrics, individual player performances, and other crucial data points. The Rays leverage this data to create reports that influence game plans and day-to-day business operations.
As critical as data is for The Rays, managing it wasn’t always easy. The IT team was bogged down by fragmented, cumbersome backups and slow restores. To ensure their data was secure and accessible for game day preparations, they needed a fast, efficient, and reliable data management solution. That’s why they chose Rubrik to protect workloads critical for both on and off-field activities.
Juan Ramirez, Vice President of Information Technology at Tampa Bay Rays, and his team immediately realized the benefits of deploying Rubrik. In his own words, “We saw how easy Rubrik was, how much time we saved, and how flawlessly it worked. Rubrik gave us what we were looking for from Day 1. The data here is so important that if we can save a day or even an hour, it translates to a lot of money. We know Rubrik can pay for itself in weeks. Previously, between the tape loaders, licenses, and disks, we were easily spending $80-100,000 a year.”
While the crack of a bat or the thrill of a double-play continue to get fans through the gates, Ramirez and the Rays will continue to use Rubrik to unlock more value from their data and are planning to leverage the platform for disaster recovery and test/dev use cases.
Modern IT Solutions Bring Home the Checkered Flag
Arguably the most compelling racing competition in the world, F1 marries the world’s best drivers with some of the most technologically-advanced cars ever designed. Many modern race teams consist of engineers who utilize data-intensive technologies to give their team an edge, as gaining insight into the most subtle of race-related data points can be the difference between winning a championship and a last-place finish.
One of the most successful F1 teams, Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport, shows the competitive advantage innovative IT can have. Matt Harris, Head of IT at Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport, manages a 30-person team that is responsible for developing data-based simulations to make sure both car and driver are prepared. “Pre and post event, we do thousands of Monte Carlo simulations, the what if scenarios on the configuration of the car, what you would do on lap one, two, three, four, five,” said Matt in an interview with Datanami.
The massive amount of data collected during simulations and testing, practice sessions, and race day fuels the team’s continued success, with 500 GB of data generated each race weekend from one car alone. Thus, building a strong IT environment to protect this valuable data is mission-critical for Harris and his team and drives them to adopt cutting-edge technologies. “We are constantly looking for ways to improve our IT team’s performance just as we strive to achieve faster lap times,” said Harris. “As a result, we adopt technologies that allow us to save time or simplify our processes—and that’s where Rubrik comes in.”
F1 racing continues to captivate audiences worldwide with rapid growth in both attendance and viewership. At its purest, racing is about being the fastest, yet as demonstrated by Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport, it’s also about embracing technology to be the most prepared.
Professional Gamblers Bet with Smartodds Approach to Data
With sports comes sports betting. The digital age has ushered in a new era of gambling, as online services make betting on your favorite sports team easy, safe, and accessible. Because of this, sports betting has started to eclipse sport itself, with many experts estimating that the industry will be valued at more than $150 billion in the near future.
Much like how the Rays use data for their game day preparations, avid gamblers use sports betting services like Smartodds to analyze large volumes of data before making a betting decision.
Headquartered in London, Smartodds is a leading statistical research company that specializes in sports modeling. Using complex big data analytics and predictive statistical models, the company provides insight into past and future sports matches. Monitoring a large number of sports fixtures globally each month, Smartodds’ business relies on their ability to quickly and effectively interpret data so that their clients can make the most profitable bets possible.
For Smartodds, IT is crucial to delivering its services. According to Charles Delroy, Infrastructure Engineer at Smartodds, “We provide real-time statistics for our clients, so if we go down and are unable to provide up-to-date data, it could potentially impact our customers’ ability to make betting decisions.”
With outages a major concern for Charles and his team, SmartOdds uses Rubrik to protect and manage their critical data. “Downtime could be catastrophic. Our main objectives are maintaining 24/7 availability and prioritizing innovation that will allow us to better serve our customers,” says Charles.
Pleased with Rubrik’s backup performance capabilities, Charles notes, “Incremental-forever backups deliver much faster backups. Previously, we were doing full monthly backups to tape, which could take up to two weeks. Now, backups are completed in minutes.”
Rubrik not only protects and manages Smartodds’ critical data but also helped the company begin their journey to the cloud. Charles notes,“ Rubrik has also allowed us to migrate off tape and archive to the public cloud with AWS. We’ve already leveraged AWS for significant cost savings, and the integration couldn’t be easier — just assign an SLA and Rubrik takes care of the rest.”
What’s Next for Technology in Sports?
It’s clear we’re in the first wave of technology in sports, and there’s a lot of innovation in the works. One example is wearable technologies, which are redefining the way athletes train and recover. Previously used to track GPS coordinates and distance covered, wearables can now track critical biometric data, including heart rate, breathing rate, and active recovery. These trackers enable coaches and trainers to take a more scientific approach to design workouts, including helping them to conclude whether or not an athlete is fit enough to compete after injury.
In conjunction with new technologies, teams are also hiring new IT roles and subject matter experts to help get unprecedented insight into strategic, athletic, and operational analytics. These roles range from creating efficient IT stacks to payment and customer management.
Moreover, innovative IT in sports makes capabilities such as data availability, disaster recovery, and automation more of a focus than ever. This will likely prompt many franchises to rely on modern data management solutions that are simple to use, API-driven, and cost-effective to scale.
Want to see more ways customers are unlocking the benefits of Rubrik? Read our case studies.