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Acronis, Boston Red Sox Partner To Boost Data Transport, Protection

The Red Sox were willing to take a meeting with Acronis thanks to the company’s reputation in the system imaging space, which had been a ‘pain point’ for the organization, says Randy George, the team’s senior director of technology operations.

Acronis has broken into Major League Baseball with a three-year agreement to serve as the official cyber protection partner of the Boston Red Sox.

The Schaffhausen, Switzerland-based technology vendor will help the defending World Series champions with data movement and data protection before potentially branching out into disaster recovery, according to Randy George, the Red Sox's senior director of technology operations.

"They're leveraging our solutions to help make them more competitive, to help protect their data, and overall make them a secure organization," said Patrick Hurley, vice president and general manager of Acronis Americas.

[Related: Data Protection Vendor Acronis Simplifies Channel Program, Applies Consistency Across All Products]

Though Acronis is new to baseball, Hurley said the company has a significant footprint in the European sports community, assisting both Formula One racers as well as English Premier League team. Acronis' work with Manchester City and Arsenal caught the eye of Liverpool's IT team, which, like the Red Sox, is owned by investment management titan John Henry.

George was willing to take a meeting with Acronis thanks to their reputation in the system imaging space, which had been a "pain point" for the organization due to the level of expertise required to manage the Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager. Unlike System Center, Acronis can be used by junior engineers and will help improve the velocity and reduce the complexity of the imaging process.

"I was willing to take a meeting with these guys just on that opportunity alone," George said. Microsoft declined to comment for this story.

The partnership between Acronis and the Boston Red Sox will initially focus on data movement and data protection to make it easier to data to be transported from Point A to Point B, George said. The top priority for the Red Sox, George said, is to get the Acronis file sync and share and mobile apps to the masses to access all the data that's on the team's Dell EMC storage in a way that's easy to consume.

"[Dell] EMC is the center of our universe," George said. "Anything we buy needs to complement or interoperate with the EMC technology we bought."

In addition, George said the Red Sox video production team collaborates with NESN (New England Sports Network) to share content they've created in house as well as post content NESN has created on the Fenway Park large-screen display for fan consumption.

The Red Sox currently rely on Dropbox to do this, George said, but that doesn't work well since Dropbox rate limits the transmission of really large files. But from what the team has seen so far, George said Acronis is also to do this very efficiently. Dropbox didn't immediately respond to requests for comment.

In future years, George said the Red Sox want to explore the disaster recovery capabilities offered by Acronis, particularly as it relates to syncing a virtual machine to the Acronis cloud and spinning it up if an on-premise VMware host is compromised. The Red Sox plan to test this and learn more about how it works before potentially going live with it in 2020, according to George.

The Red Sox currently partner with more than 100 IT vendors, which is a far cry from the less than 10 technology firms the organization was working with when George joined in 2002. Working in the technology department of a professional sports franchise is very much a 24/7 operation with no days off, George said.

"No one was really investing in technology in 2002. We were just playing baseball. Now, it's such a data-driven sport," George said. "If you looked at my maintenance budget, you would be shocked."

The Red Sox also work with six or seven channel partners, George said, who the team relies on almost exclusively for implementation. Since the team is a special use case and customer for Acronis, George said Acronis is currently making incredibly internal resources available, though there is the potential for partners to get involved if the team ends up implementing items beyond the scope of the agreement.

"I do tend to gravitate toward the partners who pick up my call at 11 p.m., who answer my text message, who bail me out of a bind when someone blows up during a game," George said. "Those partners are rare. When I find them, I hold onto them for dear life."

Since news of the Red Sox-Acronis partner became public, George said the San Diego Padres, San Francisco Giants and two other teams reached out to get a better sense of what Acronis might be able to offer professional baseball clubs.

"Hopefully we can deliver these services to other sporting organizations," Hurley said, "not just in the U.S., but globally."

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