Cyber Protect

With pitchers and catchers arriving in Fort Meyers, FL, the Boston Red Sox are starting to prepare for their 2020 season. That will involve analyzing a lot of data, all of which must be protected. Brian Shield, Vice President of Technology and IT for The Boston Red Sox, shared an in-depth look at everything IT at the Acronis Global Cyber Summit last year, which provided keen insights into how world-class, data-driven organizations safeguard their infrastructure.

After his presentation, John Furrier of SiliconANGLE’s theCUBE interviewed Shield to discuss the IT needs of the Sox – from how Acronis enables Fenway Park to respond to cyberthreats to how new 5G technology is being tested at the stadium to how data is used in the MLB to detect talent and signal imminent injuries.

We’re sharing a few highlights from their discussion below, along with a video of the full exchange. Get caught up on the conversation and add your own thoughts on social media with #CyberFit. (The excerpts below have been edited for clarity and brevity.)  

What security posture does Fenway Park have?

Brian: Over the last four-plus years, professional baseball has had a cybersecurity program that all 30 clubs partake in. They basically help build out a suite of tools and help participate in the monitoring of our cybersecurity assets and logs.

That's really significantly elevated our posture in terms of security. We supplement that quite a bit, and a good example of that is Acronis. Acronis, for us, represents the ability for us to be able to respond to certain potential threats like ransomware and other things.

What's wonderful about a tool like this is that it allows us to also solve other problems. Making our scouts more efficient. We've got these 125 scouts scattered around the globe. These guys are the lifeblood of the success of our business. When they have a problem, if they're in Venezuela or the Dominican or someplace else, in southeast Asia, getting them up and running as quickly as we can, being able to consume their video assets and other things as they're scouting prospects. We use Acronis for those solutions. It's great to kind of have a partner who can both double down as a cyber partner as well as someone who helps drive a more efficient business.

How do you interface with Statcast? How does that all work?

Brian: Statcast is just one of many data feeds, as you can imagine. One of the things that the league does is make all that type of data is readily available to every club. The real competitive differentiator is how you use it internally. Like how your analysts can consume that data. We have a baseball system we call Beacon. We retired Carmine, if you're familiar with the old days of Carmine. So, we retired Carmine a few years ago with Beacon and Beacon represents our opportunity to effectively collapse all this information into a decision-making environment that allows us to make the best decisions to win the most games.

Looking at recruiting and scouting, what innovations would catch the interest of the casual fan or IT worker?

Brian: Sure. I mean some of this gets highly confidential, but I think at a macro level, as you start to see in the minor leagues, and in some portions of the major leagues, wearable technologies are becoming more popular. Understanding player wellness, understanding how to get the most out of a player and understanding how to predict potential injuries and accelerate recoveries while being able to use all of this technology where appropriate can maximize the value of player performance.

From a tech perspective, what's the coolest thing that you're working on?

Brian: I think our cloud strategy coming up in the future. It's still a little bit in the early stage, but our hope would be to kind of have clarity about that in the next couple of months. I think it’s going to be a game-changer for us. We enjoy a great relationship with Dell EMC and yet we also do work in the cloud and so being able to leverage the best of both of those to create a compelling experience for both fans, for both players, baseball operations as well as running an efficient business, I think is really what we're all about.

How do you sandbox new technologies and what exciting new developments are currently being sandboxed?

Brian: Sure. Fenway Park struggles a little bit with our footprint. Honestly, I walk into some of these large stadiums and I get instantly jealous, relative to just the amount of space that people have to work with and things. But we have a great relationship with our partners so we really partner particularly well with key partners like Verizon and others.

We now have 5G partially implemented at Fenway Park. We expect to have it sort of fully live come opening day next year ... so we're really excited about that. We hope to have a new version of Wi-Fi for the second half of the year. We're looking at some really interesting ways that we can tease that out. We're really trying to use the Fenway Bowl as an opportunity to make it kind of a high-tech bowl. So we're looking at ways of maybe doing everything from hack-a-thons to a pre-gaming sort of event to some interesting fan experiential opportunities.

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