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Penn State Leverages Cloud Storage To Gain On-Court Advantage

Aaron Russell November 20, 2015

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Aaron Russell of Penn State men’s volleyball team benefitted from anywhere, anytime cloud access to game films for real-time feedback and adjustments. Photo by Mark Selders, courtesy Penn State Athletics

Solution Summary

Realizing that rapid review of game play was the best way for players to improve their technique, the Penn State men’s volleyball coach sought a cost-effective, portable means for the team to study game footage and exchange notes on the go.

After discovering that other file-sharing services lacked the storage capacity to handle large video clips, the team settled on NET+ Box, a leading enterprise Cloud Content Management (CCM) platform tailored for research and education institutions and purpose-built to meet next-generation content storage and collaboration needs. Now players are able to access game footage of their opponents as well as their own training clips—along with annotations from their coaches—via any wireless device.

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Mark Pavlik The Project

Mark Pavlik, head coach, Penn State men’s volleyball team. Photo by Mark Selders, courtesy Penn State Athletics

Mark Pavlik, head coach of the Penn State men’s volleyball team, cites player viewing of training and game footage as a huge driver of performance improvement. Yet with busy academic and athletic schedules, the players have little time to come to the coach’s office, watch long video clips, and listen to his commentary, as well as that of the assistant coaches. “Trying to find that half-hour block when they could come in to review something that happened on a Friday might not happen until the following Wednesday or Thursday. By that time you’ve moved on,” Pavlik says. He sought a cost-effective, portable solution that would allow players to watch annotated footage on their own time.

The Problem

Pavlik experimented with popular cloud-based services such as Dropbox but found that their file-size limitations couldn’t accommodate the lengthy video footage his team required. A subsequent attempt involved a free app for uploading and sharing files that was incompatible with certain operating systems on his players’ wireless devices. The team also considered purchasing external hard drives capable of transmitting data wirelessly, but these proved too costly and complicated to manage. That’s when Penn State adopted NET+ Box as a university-wide solution.

The Solution

Through its membership in Internet2, Penn State was able to roll out NET+ Box to meet the file storage and collaboration needs of its massive student body—80,000 students at 24 campus locations. Through the Internet2 NET+ initiative, Penn State and over 100 other institutions are working with cloud service providers to leverage collective needs and receive the benefit of customized, standards-based implementations of some of the market’s leading cloud solutions. According to Vice Provost for Information Technology Kevin Morooney, “Box gets better at understanding what our campus requirements are through focused conversations. That enables me to more rapidly deploy services and applications that are relevant to our students and our faculty.” These services are currently proving very relevant to campus athletes.

With NET+ Box, the Penn State men’s volleyball team was able to:

  • Make files available for user access from anywhere and on any device.
  • Share game strategy via comments and annotations using Box Notes.
  • Notify collaborators of file and comment updates in real time via alerts.
  • Meet the university’s rigorous security and regulatory compliance standards.

The Result

According to outside hitter Aaron Russell, “In the past, I relied on the coach just letting me know at the next day’s practice if I did a good job or a bad job in a match. Now I’m able to easily see my technique on a daily basis and work with the coach to make adjustments where necessary.”

Box not only enabled the busy student athletes on the men’s volleyball team to watch and comment on footage of upcoming competitors, it gave their coaches the power to deliver customized play-by-play analysis of their performance immediately following each game. This university cloud storage tool has brought about a revolution in coaching and performance.

Penn State’s Vice Provost for Information Technology, Kevin Morooney, also considers Box and NET+ a winning solution: “NET+ is an example of what happens when we work together. When we band together, we can help demonstrate the needs of universities in a way that presents a value proposition for vendors. They’re now more oriented to my marketplace, and I can take advantage of that.”

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