How the Boston Red Sox made data its "lifeblood"

The Boston Red Sox logo on top of the dugout box at Fenway Park, viewed from above and shot with a telephoto lens. The crowd are immediately before it, with the green baseball diamond visible at the top of the frame.
(Image credit: Boston Red Sox)

Data has long been a vital part of sports, helping coaches understand how teams are performing and how to get the most out of players. More recently, high-quality video has made it possible to analyze the smallest aspects of a game or a player’s performance. But it also brings with it some problems – like how to store all the data in the most accessible and cost-effective way.

The Boston Red Sox Major League baseball team is at the forefront of the data revolution in sports. “It’s a pretty dynamic environment and one where technology is really the underpinnings of a successful sports franchise,” says Brian Shield, SVP and CTO at the Boston Red Sox.

“You are only as good as your data and so there’s a big focus here, whether it’s traditional data, analytics data, video data, or fan-level data, really ensuring we are doing a very competent and capable job of capturing that and managing that,” he said.

“Data is becoming our lifeblood. In sport it’s growing at a highly accelerated rate, especially video data,” Shield tells ITPro.

A headshot of Brian Shield, CTO at the Boston Red Sox.
Brian Shield

Brian Shield is an SVP and the CTO at the Boston Red Sox, a role he has held since 2013. He oversees front and back end operations, from ensuring stadium tech is as effective as possible to supporting the team through data analysis. Prior to working for the team, he was the CEO at Shield Consulting Group LLC and held the position of CIO at The Weather Channel for 14 years.

Baseball teams generate a huge amount of video during games which creates the challenge of storing and retrieving it. The Red Sox can have up to 50 cameras across seven locations, shooting hundreds of frames a second, for two to three hours of a game. That can create terabytes of data for every game.

“In baseball, we have very high-performance camera systems that we use for analytics. In sports you can do analytics in a lot of different ways and in baseball the vast majority of that is done via camera analytics,” Shield said.

“If you’ve got 40-plus cameras shooting hundreds of frames per second for any given game, that’s not going instantly to the cloud. It needs to be stored and processed, so we can perform analytics you’re going to need some kind of tiered storage to be able to support that model.” 

The team is using Hot Cloud Storage from Wasabi to store its assets in a readily accessible archive which also helps to keep its cloud costs down. Wasabi’s team will use its technology for everything from Microsoft 365, historical and real-time video archives to Google Cloud Platform and Azure backup and recovery, as well as Internet of Things data, and for surveillance data from cameras and devices throughout the ballpark. 

To prepare for upcoming games, teams will use high-resolution, multi-angle video which means a lot of storage. Wasabi claims the economics of its offering will allow the team to expand the range of content that it can analyze to improve its decision-making.

Wasabi Hot Cloud Storage is cloud object storage, which the company sells advertises as offering one tier of highly-secure, low-latency storage. It’s intended for use-cases such as active archives, offsite backups, and hybrid cloud storage. Unlike many other cloud options.

“What we were looking for was a partner who could help us tier our storage,” Shield tells ITPro. “We were looking for an underlying technology that could be our storage repository, be cost effective and support a model where we could have fairly rapid retrieval for some of the key assets.” 

Beyond huge volumes of video data that the team creates with every new game, the club also has lot of other video assets from across its long history. “The Red Sox is a storied franchise that goes back over a hundred years; we’ve got a lot of video, some of that video has been ingested with the appropriate metadata. But we have lots of other video content that has not,” he adds. 


Applying metadata to swathes of archival footage is something that has become more feasible through AI tools

“There’s a whole host of different things that are now within our reach that historically would have been challenging for us,” Shield says. “So, I look at our solution as not only does it solve for a lot of our more traditional IT challenges, such as ‘how do I cost-effectively store and retrieve content’ but also how it aligns with our ongoing challenge in a video world.”.

“What Wasabi does is it creates a common data store for a broad range of assets that we have. We are using Wasabi as the underlying storage and retrieval environment horizontally across those different vertical environments,” Shield adds.

Big data stores that need to be kept long term but also where fast access is required can be expensive in some cloud settings. Shield says that it wouldn’t have previously been feasible to keep that scale of video data in the cloud.

While some might think that moving data to the cloud is the end of the problem, that’s not necessarily the case.  

Shield argues that it’s always more complex in reality: “any CIO or CTO who just decides ‘let’s to move everything to the cloud and it will just sort itself out’ is really abdicating their responsibilities”. This also means the issues you have to consider with storage are different.

“It’s not just how efficiently can I operate on any one cloud, now that you are pulling all these things together – you’ve got on-prem, edge, private and public cloud storage and underlying partners like Wasabi – it’s a real opportunity I think for organisations to more cost-effectively know how to allocate resources where it makes most sense,” Shield says.

Running the tech at a sports franchise means thinking about three different important groups at the same time, encompassing the players, the employees, and the fans. 

“You have not only the challenges like any traditional business of running a proper business with [enterprise resource planning] (ERP) systems, sales systems, Salesforce, and all these traditional tools, you also have a whole other side of your business which is around player performance. ow do we get the most out of our players, how do we support them, how to support the team that supports those folks, all of the medical and wellness work, and everything else that goes into it,” he says.

“Finding the right combination of how we can service and support those is a lot more complicated than running a tradition business with traditional assets,” he adds.

Steve Ranger

Steve Ranger is an award-winning reporter and editor who writes about technology and business. Previously he was the editorial director at ZDNET and the editor of