In addition to being a great football franchise with a winning team, the Oakland Raiders are known as IT innovators as well. Not willing to ‘just go with the status quo’, the franchise’s IT team decided to think out-of-the-box during the Raiders’ recent datacenter infrastructure refresh.
The Oakland Raiders had been using NetApp storage systems for running all internal workloads, including the organization’s general and administrative software solutions, and email services for nearly 200 employees. “Our IT team is responsible for ensuring high performance for all of the applications that run our business,” noted Matthew Pasco, Vice-President, Information Technology for the Oakland Raiders. “Unfortunately, our legacy storage environment was slow and difficult to manage. Our IT admins were spending far too much time allocating capacity to ensure an acceptable level of performance for each of our key applications and services.”
Time for an Infrastructure Refresh
When it came time to refresh the legacy storage environment, Pasco decided to look at some of the newer infrastructure alternatives. “We decided to look at some of the more innovative solutions that are available on the market today,” he reported.
Choosing the Tintri Solution
The Oakland Raiders purchased two Tintri VMstore systems in 2013. And now in 2017, they’re expanding their Tintri deployment to their entire virtual environment. “The decision to go with Tintri was actually quite simple,” Pasco admitted. “We were very impressed with the ease-of-use, high performance, and all of the virtual machine-level statistics we get with the solution. Tintri is essentially a hands-off platform. It manages itself, so we don't have to do anything to make sure everything is running well.”
Reduced Operational Overhead
The Raiders’ IT admins had been spending dozens of hours each month managing the aging NetApp storage systems. With Tintri, management time has dropped to nearly zero. “Zero is a very compelling number when it comes to IT management,” Pasco admitted.
By moving to the Tintri platform, the Oakland Raiders organization was able to reduce operating expenses (OpEx) for its IT infrastructure by 50% to 74%, enabling them to pay back the Tintri investment in just under six months.
Happy End Users
“The greatest indicator of success for any well-run IT organization is when no one complains,” Pasco said. “Our end users will probably never stop us in the hallway to thank us for applications that run fast, but we can live with that. We haven’t had any complaints about system performance since moving to Tintri, so that confirms our confidence in the new solution.”
Better Visibility with Tintri Global Center
Pasco was also impressed with Tintri’s Global Center management interface. “The Tintri systems are very tight,” he reported. “The management interface is easy to use and very intuitive—but since the underlying performance of the Tintri systems is so great, we hardly ever need to look at all of the great VM-level metrics it provides.”
Upgrading the Tintri Systems
The Oakland Raiders are upgrading their two VMstore systems in 2017 to obtain more capacity and performance. “The NFL is becoming much more IT-centric,” explained Pasco. “A lot of the applications that we are relying on, including big-data analytics and online collaboration tools, are now being brought into the data center. That growth in IT services is what spurred our additional investments in Tintri.”
The 2017 data center refresh will also include upgraded networking and compute resources from Cisco. "The Tintri value proposition around ease-of-use, flexibility, and linear scalability are common to the Cisco UCS compute platform as well. The two solutions complement each other very nicely,” Pasco noted. “The Tintri Support team offered to help us install the new systems, but we told them we could do it on our own. The entire installation took our team just 30 to 45 minutes.”
Supporting a Winning Record
So, did Tintri ultimately improve the Raiders’ win-loss record? That question prompted a bit of introspection from Erwin Daria, Tintri systems engineer for the Oakland Raiders Franchise. “When the Raiders first became a Tintri customer in 2013, their win-loss record was only 4-12. In 2016, they were 12-4 and made the playoffs. Coincidence? Probably… but I'd like to think Tintri had something to do with it!”
One fact that is not up for debate is that Tintri has enabled the Raiders’ IT team to work on more strategic projects, not just managing storage. “I’m not convinced that Tintri is actually helping us win football games—but it does enable us to support the IT needs of our franchise and team leaders without giving a second thought to the underlying infrastructure,” Pasco concluded. “Whenever we’re asked to deploy a new application or service, we don’t have to embark on a long-drawn-out analysis of whether or not we have the infrastructure and IT resources to run it. Since we’re nearly hundred percent virtualized and everything is running on Tintri, it's easy to say ‘yes, we can do that’ to all requests with complete confidence. With Tintri, we’re now able to meet our franchise’s IT needs with ease—and that makes us all winners.” Tintri is a proud sponsor of the Oakland Raiders. The Raiders provided Tintri the opportunity to document the Raiders’ experience with Tintri products and services as a component of this sponsorship.
Traditional storage: NetApp
Cisco UCS servers and networking infrastructure
Aging legacy systems were due for a refresh. Looking for a solution that would provide higher performance and simplify management.
Tintri VMstoreTM systems
Tintri Global Center
Primary use case
All general and administrative applications for the Raiders franchise, plus e-mail services for nearly 200 employees
Obtained faster application performance
Eliminated dozens of hours per week of storage management
Reduced OpEx by 50-74%
Achieved rapid ROI in under six months
Enabled IT team to focus on more strategic projects, not just managing storage