The Golden State Warriors Are Winning at Basketball and IT with HPE SimpliVity
There’s nothing like game day at Chase Center. The crowd starts streaming in hours before opening tip-off. When that first whistle blows, 18,000+ fans erupt into cheers, and are glued to the action on the court as the Golden State Warriors transform basketball from a sport into an art form. Over 48 minutes of game play, spectators track every play, every pass, and every basket in a matchup where the outcome is often up in the air until the final buzzer sounds.
I didn’t grow up watching basketball. I was more of a hockey and soccer fan, and the NBA wasn’t a part of my life until I joined the Warriors’ IT team. It helped that I was hired right after our 2018 championship win, as it was then that I began to understand the fast pace and the finesse of the sport. I learned to appreciate the game, but I had a lot more learning to do.
From Consistency to Chaos
When the Warriors opportunity arose, the team was in the final stages of planning a major arena and office move from Oakland to San Francisco, and Chase Center was in the final phase of construction. It was open season on IT infrastructure, and the organization gave our IT team the freedom to explore our options. I’d been fascinated with hyperconvergence for nearly a decade, but I never had a chance to be hands on with it.
The Warriors offered me an irresistible challenge. I had a brand new building that was an office, an arena, and a concert hall, all rolled into one, and it needed top-to-bottom infrastructure.
Here was a complex scenario. Chase Center is home to roughly 500 team members most days, but on event days, we also host thousands of fans, journalists, television crews, stagehands, technicians, roadies, and food and merchandise vendors. When we host an event, our population swells to the size of a small town, which puts a considerable strain on our IT infrastructure. That’s why we needed a system that could handle anything and everything we could throw at it.
Working with an Established Partner
At the Warriors, I am part of an established IT team with long-standing relationships with several vendors, including HPE. When I started looking at hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI), I convened a working group that included myself, our security and network managers, and our director of IT. We all tackled the challenge in front of us from different perspectives, and we all arrived at the same answer. HPE SimpliVity offered the right combination of features and hardware: it was easy to use, had excellent uptime, and provided built-in redundancy. Everything was seamless, and I knew I could sleep at night because the platform practically ran itself. In short, we had identified the features we needed, and it allowed us to work with one of our most trusted partners—a company that understood where the Golden State Warriors had been and where we were going.
It was a refreshing change of pace to start this project from scratch. HPE really made it simple for us. They developed a streamlined workflow and we had open lines of communication with their engineers to formulate a game plan.
Measuring Twice, Cutting Once
With the plan to move our Warriors corporate office into Chase Center, we had to migrate dozens of Hyper-V servers that were running our enterprise applications, including several cloud-based and SaaS solutions like Microsoft 365.
We needed enough compute, storage, and failover capacity to ensure the smooth transition of our existing servers, to give us room to grow, and to provide uninterrupted service and on-site disaster recovery in the event of a system failure. HPE teamed us with a group of brilliant technicians and we put everything on paper ahead of time to avoid surprises and issues after the upgrade. Together, we rightsized and architected the Golden State Warriors’ infrastructure at Chase Center.
I had never worked on a project of this magnitude before, so I had my hesitancies. The HPE team helped put my mind at ease. They addressed every potential sticking point and answered all my questions. Together, we determined we could meet Chase Center’s immediate and short-term infrastructure requirements with three HPE SimpliVity nodes. We had everything we needed to operate and back up all our systems, to failover, and to grow for at least a year—if not two.
It was a measure twice, cut once situation. Once we had architected our infrastructure, we built our domain controllers, installed our HPE SimpliVity nodes, and started migrating services that weren’t reliant on Microsoft Active Directory. As we ported and virtualized the first few IBM servers, I knew we had made the right choice. Everything worked like a charm, and we never encountered any of the roadblocks I was worried about.
My First True Hyperconvergence Experience
Our new IT infrastructure has proven to be rock solid. We have yet to experience an outage, and so I’ve only used our failover and restore capabilities as part of system tests. In these simulations, we were back online within a few minutes. In everyday use, I have cloned 300GB VMs in the time it takes to snap my fingers. When you compare it to cloning a VMware server on traditional architecture and then connecting it to a SAN through a hardware switch, not only is it much faster, but it’s easier, too.
Managing our HPE SimpliVity nodes is easy and only takes a few minutes out of my day. I set up a series of alerts and check them first thing every morning. If there’s a problem, I can see it using the platform’s single-pane-of-glass interface. When I do encounter an issue, I can fix it using HPE SimpliVity’s intuitive dashboards, but that rarely happens. We like the simple support experience with HPE InfoSight that gives us predictive resource planning and global visibility across our sites.
I also have a security team that scans for potential vulnerabilities so we can apply correctives before we experience an actual security breach. When we do encounter a problem, I can apply a security patch in a few minutes, and can perform the update between meetings without having to interrupt my day’s routine. HPE SimpliVity has empowered every member of the Golden State Warriors’ IT team to contribute more to the organization in their own way.
Winning at IT
People think that sports and infrastructure technology are polar opposites, but in actuality, there are a lot of similarities. You’re always building, growing, and refining your plan. You follow a playbook, but sometimes you have to throw it away and rethink your strategy.
When we moved into Chase Center, we rewrote the rules of the game. HPE SimpliVity has given the Golden State Warriors an IT infrastructure that is fast, flexible, and responsive, with plenty of room for future expansion. Our three-node setup powers our frontend, our backend, and our disaster recovery efforts. It is a mighty platform that can scale to accommodate hundreds of office workers and thousands of sports fans and concert-goers.
Hyperconvergence is a new game for the Golden State Warriors. HPE SimpliVity is like having an all-star lineup on the court and an equally strong bench. It’s a winning platform that helps us support a winning team.