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Though the Boston Red Sox and their IT team have had their share of challenges as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, the organization was already prepared for remote work and data protection.
Much of the baseball team's staff worked remotely before the pandemic. Those employees who work around the country -- not out of Fenway Park -- include scouts, trainers and player development staff. And for those employees, the Red Sox implemented Acronis remote backup and protection in 2019.
"Having that additional layer of protection for endpoint data has been helpful," said Randy George, senior director of IT operations for the Red Sox.
Little did the Red Sox know one year ago, when they agreed to a three-year technology partnership deal with Acronis and tapped the vendor as their official "cyber protection partner," that these last few months almost every employee would be working remotely.
"We accelerated our deployment of Acronis cloud backup to remote staff to provide the needed data protection for a larger group of remote workers," George said.
Pandemic spurs security, collaboration enhancements
George said the speed of the shutdown in Massachusetts resulting from the pandemic surprised the Red Sox.
"Like many IT teams, we found ourselves in a bit of a scramble mode, engineering solutions to maintain critical call center operations, while also adding the required remote access capacity and collaboration tool licenses needed to keep everyone productive," George said.
Red Sox IT found a silver lining in the shutdown and the ensuing work-from-home necessity.
"Our entire workforce is well versed in how to take full advantage of collaboration tools like Zoom, Teams, Dropbox, Trello and myriad other tools now in broad use around the organization as a result of this crisis," George said.
With more employees working from home comes increased risk for cyberattacks. Remote applications like Zoom are especially susceptible, said Patrick Hurley, vice president and general manager of the Americas at Acronis.
So, Acronis recently reengaged with the Red Sox about its new Cyber Protect platform. It offers protection capabilities such as URL filtering and blocking remote control of endpoints, Hurley said.
Acronis Cyber Protect also provides security alerts related to COVID-19, secure file sync and share and remote data wipe.
For 15 years, Acronis was known primarily for its backup. In the last couple of years, the vendor -- which is based in Switzerland and has an office just north of Fenway in Burlington, Mass. -- has expanded to provide a combination of data protection and cybersecurity, which it calls cyber protection.
In the second half of 2020, the Red Sox plan to pilot and roll out Acronis Cyber Protect, George said. That platform would complement existing endpoint security tools that the team has in place through Major League Baseball's cybersecurity program. George said he particularly likes Cyber Protect's patch management and threat intelligence feeds.
The MLB program lacks a full endpoint recoverability platform. With Acronis, the Red Sox have a proper image-based data protection platform for endpoint recovery, George said.
Acronis remote backup and recovery provides quick hit
The Red Sox are moving forward with Acronis' protection of 600 TB of media content and 30 TB for their physical and virtual server environment. Acronis will also provide a third tier of air-gapped data protection in case the team's on-premises Dell EMC Data Domain can't achieve a quick restore need.
Randy GeorgeSenior director of IT operations, Boston Red Sox
Improved recovery time was one of the major goals the Red Sox had for the Acronis remote backup platform when they started using it last year. Previously it would take up to five days to get a scout's computer fully working again after a crash.
A couple of scouts have had hard drives fail, which is the most common issue, George said. Now the Red Sox overnight a new hard drive and the Acronis backup agent pushes the backup image down to the machine.
The organization previously used Carbonite and uses Veeam for VMware vSphere protection. George said the plan is to get all staff on Acronis cloud backup.
And hopefully soon, the workers who suddenly became remote -- players included -- will all be able to return to Fenway.
"We're all champing at the bit to get back to work," George said.
Many Red Sox fans would second that thought.