The LA Kings Score a Hat Trick with Dternity
In a world of 24-hour Global online business, success and failure sometimes comes down to split-second decisions that rely on vast amounts of critical data. In the sport of hockey, as in business, speed and strength are key. From September through June in downtown Los Angeles, hockey nights at STAPLES Center are exhilarating experiences. The Los Angeles Kings, longtime leaders in the National Hockey League’s Western Conference, have been setting the course of technological innovation in the league, and serve as a benchmark for other franchises in the fan entertainment realm. In addition to multi-media entertainment during its home games, the Kings organization extensively relies on video assets for unique activations with team partners, marketing and for its broadcast affiliation with Fox Sports.
Video is becoming increasingly vital to the competitive and business aspects of most media organizations and as the Kings have increasingly leveraged content to assist its further success (culminating most recently with the team’s all-access show, Black & White), the team’s internal video production department has had to keep pace with an evolving set of demands.
When Rob McPherson, Manager of Production, joined the Kings in 2011, the franchise was in its infancy of storing digital assets and video. Before he arrived, the team was generating no more than 200 GB of data per year. “In my first year with the Kings when we won the franchise’s first Stanley Cup, we were generating close to 7 TB of data per week during the playoffs.
Today, we are bringing in close to 40 TB of data in the regular season before we even start the playoffs.” The Los Angeles Kings needed an IT infrastructure specific to their video production efforts that could cost-effectively scale, while requiring minimal management resources. “It’s safe to say, it’s a very different world now from when I started with the Kings,” said McPherson. “The explosion in our data volumes, in addition to the new ways we’re leveraging that data, has forced us to rethink our post-production workflow and the technologies we implement.”
In addition to finding a solution for newly created content, the Kings staff has a legacy to protect and archive, dating back nearly 50 years to 1967, the year of the team’s inception. “On top of making sure we are producing quality content for our fans and sponsors, we also look at ourselves as unofficial team historians. We need to be able to capture and store this media so can preserve our team’s history. That’s everything from Wayne Gretzky breaking NHL records to the last two Stanley Cup runs and beyond,” said McPherson. “That’s why it’s extremely important we have the ability to store and preserve this invaluable data using cutting-edge yet simple IT infrastructure all while making sure we are within budget.”
As McPherson and team began evaluating storage systems, they were impressed with the simplicity and scalability of StrongBox LTFS NAS. Since McPherson and his team’s expertise is in video production work, and not IT, they were attracted to the ease of configuration and management of Fujifilm’s StrongBox LTFS NAS appliance.
“For a production-focused grouped with no real IT training, StrongBox LTFS NAS was easy to understand and easier to apply to our workflow,” said McPherson. “We were trained in one day by a very knowledgeable staff and were writing to LTO tapes the very next afternoon.”
StrongBox LTFS NAS’s open LTFS (Linear Tape File System) architecture was also a key factor in the Kings’ decision. “When we looked to invest in a long-term storage solution, we needed to rely on a format that was truly open source and non-proprietary. We feel like LTFS will stand the test of time while maintaining data integrity in storage for decades to come. The data we are archiving today is important to our company, our brand, our partners and our fans now and in the future. Long after all of us are done working at Kings Vision, we want to make sure the footage we are capturing will be here to use forever. LTFS covers all of that for us.”
The team was able to stand a StrongBox LTFS NAS S30 behind its production Storage Area Network (SAN) as an archive appliance, allowing for static data to be offloaded from the SAN to the more economical tape-based storage tier. That way, only “hot” data resides on the performance-oriented spinning disk storage tier, driving down overall storage costs.
“It got to a point in 2014 where we were spending so much time and money trying to find band-aides for our media storage needs that we needed to make a change,” noted McPherson. “We were worried week to week if we were going to be able to save all of our assets including game footage and player interviews. Those are the exact assets we want to preserve forever. Today, we don’t have to worry about if we have the space to keep and archive our team’s history. We are able to save everything and can pull any angle of any goal or save from any game. It’s reassuring to know that in 100 years, the assets we are gathering today will be available for a production team to edit original raw footage of some of the most exciting times in Los Angeles Kings history.”