By Charles King, Pund-IT® April 5, 2023
Public cloud computing is arguably one of the most transformative business technologies of the past decade. However, hyperscale public cloud platforms are seldom sufficient for supporting all computing needs for enterprises and other large organizations. Plus, using such services can involve considerable challenges, including unpredictable operating expenditures (OPEX), API call charges, data egress fees and other nebulous or hidden costs.
That said, some hybrid cloud vendors are intent on making cloud services and solutions significantly cheaper and more transparent for customers. The new hybrid cloud storage offerings announced by IBM Cloud and Wasabi are a good example of how vendors are delivering on this promise.
What is Wasabi?
IBM Cloud is a well-known and respected public cloud player, especially among enterprise customers, but Wasabi may be a less familiar vendor and brand. The company was launched in 2017 by Carbonite co-founders David Friend and Jeff Flowers with the goal of making cloud-based storage faster, simpler and 80 percent cheaper than solutions from hyperscale clouds.
Wasabi offers businesses a variety of cloud storage solutions, including pay-as-you-go object storage, reserved capacity storage and a dedicated platform for storing surveillance data. In addition, the company’s platform incorporates management and networking functions, as well as features such as bucket replication, ransomware protection and compliance with major government and industry regulations. Wasabi is also allied with well-known technology partners, including Nutanix, Commvault and Veaam.
IBM and Wasabi spice up cloud storage.
How do IBM Cloud and Wasabi plan to challenge conventional cloud storage? In short, by blending IBM Cloud Satellite and Wasabi Hot Cloud Storage.
The former is designed to consistently deploy and run apps across on-premises, edge computing and public cloud environments from any cloud vendor. IBM Cloud Satellite supports common services, APIs, access policies, security controls and compliance functions in all those environments.
The latter is a universal cloud object storage service that eliminates storage tiers and satisfies nearly all storage performance requirements. Wasabi Hot Cloud Storage treats all data equally and makes it readily accessible no matter how it is classified, with no tier-based latency delays.
According to IBM Cloud, IBM Cloud Satellite vastly simplifies the management of hybrid cloud-based data and workloads via a single control point that includes robust security and control features.
According to Wasabi, Hot Cloud Storage enables clients to store and access data however and whenever it is needed without egress or API request fees which can result in significant cost predictability benefits and savings compared to many conventional cloud storage solutions.
First up: Boston Red Sox
The IBM/Wasabi announcement stated that the Boston Red Sox will be the first customer for the new joint solution. What benefits does one of professional baseball’s most iconic teams expect to gain from cloud storage?
A Wasabi case study lays out the details, but one of the most elemental points is that modern baseball (and, by extension, many other professional and many college sports) is a “game of big data.” The Red Sox and Major League Baseball (MLB) teams routinely collect, manage and analyze petabytes of data “to help with everything from enhancing individual player performance to delivering amazing fan experiences in and out of the ballpark.”
In addition, 50+ high-speed cameras throughout the Red Sox’s iconic Fenway Park record both action on the field and in the stands. That enables the team to analyze day-to-day player performance and to keep security and safety personnel apprised of accidents or incidents that require a response. Plus, video data is produced and captured at six additional ballparks from instructional, minor and major league facilities, and other venues run by Fenway Sports Management (FSM).
According to a team spokesperson, the Red Sox plan to leverage Wasabi Hot Cloud Storage in the team’s hybrid cloud infrastructure while piloting IBM Cloud Satellite. Its goal is to effectively house and manage data, including player video, analytics, surveillance data, IoT and more across Fenway Park and bring the flexibility and agility of public cloud services to its secured on-premises data center.
Why is this important for the Red Sox? Brian Cox, the team’s SVP and CTO, stated that the incredible growth of the team’s data means that scalability and cost-effectiveness are vitally important. “The performance and cost reliability Wasabi delivers have already been advantageous for the Red Sox. With the addition of IBM hybrid cloud technology, we hope to take our digital initiatives to the next level. All of that ultimately funnels back to delivering a best-in-class fan experience.”
Are the new IBM Cloud/Wasabi services and solutions likely to succeed? That seems likely given Wasabi’s already positive impact on the Red Sox. The team noted that its past experience revealed that “Hyperscaler cloud service models break down when dealing with massive data stores that require both long-term retention and fast access to files.”
Automated tiering can help better manage infrequently accessed data but impose both costly egress fees and higher per-terabyte costs as content is migrated back to hotter service tiers. In stark contrast, the Red Sox found that Wasabi Hot Storage allows the team to store all of its data in an active, readily accessible archive and retrieve assets as needed at one-fifth the cost of the big three cloud providers.
The inclusion of IBM Cloud Satellite’s single control point design and robust control and security features seem likely to enhance Wasabi Hot Cloud Storage management functions and its customers’ experience. It should also be noted that IBM has deep experience supporting other professional sports events and organizations. Those include the US Open tennis tournament which uses IBM Power Rankings with Watson and Match Insights with Watson. Those services run on IBM Cloud with Red Hat OpenShift and use AI and natural language processing (NLP) to analyze data and offer key insights.
In addition, IBM Consulting and Wimbledon co-created a platform using a combination of on-premises systems, private clouds and IBM Cloud that includes features built as containerized apps and deployed on Red Hat OpenShift. That allows the tournament to leverage the flexibility of hybrid cloud to help millions of tennis fans enjoy personalized digital experiences.
Last month, IBM hosted a virtual event, Future of Hybrid Cloud, where experts discussed how the sports industry exemplifies how data location is a key factor for success. Jason McGee, IBM Fellow and CTO of IBM Cloud noted, “Where the data lives and is generated becomes critical for sports teams, making it possible to be able to act on the data effectively. This is a key issue the IBM-Wasabi partnership can solve.”
Overall, the combination of IBM Cloud and Wasabi should enable the Red Sox to cost-effectively garner significant benefits and further insights from their data investments. It also seems likely that the companies’ joint solutions will interest other MLB teams and sports organizations looking to improve the price and performance of how they store and analyze data.
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