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Qumulo, Levi's Stadium kick off into clouds for storage savings

Levi's Stadium, home of the San Francisco 49ers, moves data into the cloud and reduces data center redundancy with Qumulo by archiving security footage and media files.

Thousands of San Francisco 49ers fans snapping Instagram posts or filming TikTok videos, hundreds of transactions from ticket booth and the gift shop sales, scores of multimedia teams broadcasting and livestreaming.

Every game day at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif. is a white-knuckle stress test of the venue's IT team and infrastructure. But it's one matchup the stadium's technology teams are making easier with hybrid storage vendor Qumulo.

The technology teams at Levi's Stadium are moving portions of their storage into the cloud to reduce on-premises redundancy and free up space on their existing equipment without having to continually expand their data centers' footprints.

Levi's Stadium selected Qumulo around six months ago for a hybrid cloud storage infrastructure, moving about 20% of the venue's total storage into the cloud while streamlining on-prem file storage into a single namespace. The shift eliminated 54 individual storage arrays across the venue.

Jim Mercurio, executive vice president and general manager, Levi's StadiumJim Mercurio

"Ultimately, it came down to consolidation. We were rolling about 44 TB a day," said Jim Mercurio, executive vice president and general manager of Levi's Stadium. "IT was just clunky. … Qumulo allowed us to consolidate everything and made things much simpler."

Mercurio said the cloud portion of the storage arrangement will archive and maintain security camera footage. He said he expects the venue to eventually use the cloud to archive 49ers footage, event highlights and other important media files.

"To maintain the history of your franchise is absolutely critical," he said. "We're already looking at what we're going to do in phase two. … We know we've got that extra capacity now."

Technology play-by-play

Mercurio oversees the daily operations of the 68,500-seat venue and frequently works with the IT staff, which consists of 50 employees, to maintain a pleasant game day or event experience for attendees.

The stadium's network processes about 12,000 transactions for parking alone on a given game day, Mercurio said. That's in addition to the network demand for cell phones and point-of-sale systems.

"Levi's Stadium has been at the forefront [of technology] since we opened," Mercurio said. "Everything nowadays has a [technology] backbone. Those three [services] right there have changed so fast and so quickly that your backbone and technology have to support that."

At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic last year, Levi's Stadium's IT team suggested Qumulo as a potential storage vendor when the stadium had some downtime to assess storage needs and media control policies, Mercurio said.

"It's been a very smooth transition," he said. "[Sometimes] you make a transition and it's painful, but Qumulo has been on top of it."

IT in the know

Although not directly involved in daily IT operations, Mercurio said he strives to remain in contact with the team members and make sure their feedback and suggestions are incorporated into the venue's business strategy.

I cannot think of anything where your IT department isn't involved.
Jim MercurioExecutive vice president and general manager, Levi's Stadium

Avoid the IT team's suggestions, insight and expertise at your own peril, he cautioned.

"As often as you can, get all hands on deck," Mercurio said. "If you try doing this in a vacuum, you're going to have problems down the road. Don't think this is just an IT issue. Get your teams involved, understand what you're trying to accomplish, and why. I cannot think of anything where your IT department isn't involved."

He also suggested IT buyers shouldn't be timid about demanding fixes, information and changes to their services for their organizations' business needs.

Tim McCarthy is a journalist living in the North Shore of Massachusetts. He covers cloud and data storage news.

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