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U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association takes Iomega NAS system to the Olympics

Iomega's desktop network-attached storage (NAS) systems traveled with the U.S. Olympic team to Vancouver to provide networked data storage, file and print and digital signage services.

The U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association (USSA) has been using network-attached storage (NAS) systems from EMC Corp. subsidiary Iomega Corp. as part of its training and during the Olympic Games in Vancouver. This is part of an increased role played by IT, according to one USSA official.

USSA stores video on Iomega systems, and uses the NAS systems in Vancouver to access data stored at its Utah training facility.

The USSA provides resources, facilities and equipment to train about 50,000 skiers and snowboarders from novice to Olympic levels. USSA director of IT Jon Larson said the association moved into new national headquarters in Park City, Utah, after the 2006 Olympics in Turin. During the move, USSA also revamped its IT infrastructure to support a growth in digital multimedia used in athlete training.

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"Now that we have our facility and a lot of our testing and lab equipment is instrumented, we can start to gather this data and build an athletics management system that's going to allow us to profile our athletes," Larson said.

Larson said the greater amount of data gives athletes in training more feedback on their performance, allowing for more effective training improvements.

"During the previous Olympics, IT played a lesser role – we had two to three racks of servers," Larson added. When the new association consolidated its training and administrative buildings into one facility, it put a new Gigabit Ethernet network in place. But "we were hounded by the amount of storage we would need, especially for video," Larson said. He estimates the USSA currently has about 10 TB of data total.

Larson said he'd used Iomega's consumer products, including zip drives, in the past, and he thought of the vendor when it came time to pull data on disparate direct-attached-storage (DAS) and external hard drives together. "In the past we'd bought whatever we could find at Staples or Best Buy, and we weren't getting decent drives, so we were having the drives fail, power issues on the drives, that kind of thing," he said.

About five months ago, USSA purchased two desktop Iomega ix4 200d network-attached storage systems, with the goal of bringing the portable devices with the U.S. Olympic teams to Vancouver. On-site in Vancouver, Larson set up a wireless router to connect one of the portable NAS devices as a file and print server and set up a site-to-site VPN. This allows automated print server setup and a connection to data back at headquarters. If no site-to-site VPN is available to send data back to headquarters for permanent storage, one of the NAS systems can be used to back up data for later transfer to the main data center. The other ix4-200d system also stores the images needed to support digital signage at the Olympics.

Data archiving and email archiving will become more important for USSA moving forward, with a four-year retention time according to Olympic committee requirements. But "I didn't have the budget to get all those devices."

That's when Larson said Iomega CEO and vice chairman Jonathan Huberman toured the USSA facility and agreed to donate two more ix-400d and 10 ix-400rm rackmount units. "The last piece of the puzzle was getting enough capacity in here to leverage the infrastructure we've put in place," Larson said, but as a nonprofit organization, USSA's budget just wasn't available for the necessary expansion. He said he's still testing the donated equipment.

During this testing, Larson said, "the one thing that strikes me as a little bit odd is that in the desktop series, they have dual [interfaces] … but on the rackmount, there's only one controller."

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