Capturing Data From the South Pole

Posted 01/12/2018 by Chris Powell

With all the information I have been sending from the South Pole Energy Challenge (SPEC), I realize I have not yet talked about how data is being captured from the expedition. And what exactly Commvault is doing to manage, protect and share all the valuable information being gathered by the 2041 team.

When Commvault first met the 2041 organization – Robert Swan, specifically – we discovered 2041 had an enormous amount of data. But the data was everywhere. There were videos, photos, reports and emails from previous expeditions stored on hard drives on multiple laptops; there were disk drives; there were even photos shoved in drawers. Beyond the lack of organization, we soon discovered that the 2041 computers had limited (at best) levels of protection. Same held true for their data. This, of course, goes against the core of Commvault’s business purpose, so we knew that as a data protection software provider we had to work with 2041 to ensure its critical data was managed and protected.

Commvault was able to provide a new level of professional discipline to the data being gathered during SPEC. So how does it work?

Of course, there is no connectivity in the traditional sense in Antarctica, so the first way data is sent is via satellite phones. The other is less high tech – video and other files are downloaded to data cards, which are then flown from Union Glacier to Punta Arenas, Chile.

All of the data received – business communications, videos, audio, photos, emails and reports – are directly uploaded to the Commvault Data Platform running on Microsoft Azure cloud. Selecting Microsoft Azure was an easy choice. We enjoy a great working relationship with Microsoft and Commvault is among the largest providers of data to Azure. An additional benefit, too, there is an Azure cloud data center located in South America, which made the data upload into the cloud - in this case - faster (given limited communications abilities in that part of the world). Once in the Azure Cloud, the data is indexed and protected on the Commvault Data Platform, and then Commvault Edge is used to provide access to the data from a variety of stakeholders.

Key to this data handling is the Commvault Managed Services team. Just as we do for our customers, the Managed Services team works to make sure the process is correctly managed – especially when an organization like 2041 has limited IT experience and skills on its own team. Now, it’s easy for the 2041 organization to categorize content, decide who can download data (partners, sponsors, public, etc.) and determine what can of access media outlets can have for imagery.

When the SPEC ends, Commvault will continue to provide ongoing support to the 2041 organization for years to come for its day-to-day operations. That also includes data storage and protection of the critical data 2041 will use to pursue its mission of protecting Antarctica and driving its message of renewable, sustainable energy adoption to combat climate change.

It’s an amazing partnership that I hope will facilitate remarkable change.

Continue to follow our journey by following Robert Swan (@robertswan2041) and Chris Powell (@justpowell) on Twitter, using the hashtags: #SouthPole and #everydayremarkable

As a member of Commvault’s executive leadership team, Chris Powell brings more than two decades of business acumen and management experience to Commvault as Vice President, Chief Marketing Officer.