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Dell EMC Isilon helps preserve tennis history

At the U.S. Open tennis tournament last week, Rafael Nadal solidified his Hall of Fame credentials and Sloane Stephens became a hall of fame candidate. And the International Tennis Hall of Fame gained more artifacts to add to the thousands it is already beginning to digitize.

The ITHF in Newport, Rhode Island is months into a digitization project that will categorize and make searchable more than 25,000 historic tennis items. The hall uses Dell EMC Isilon NAS array and Piction digital asset management software as its primary tech tools for the digitization project.

Dell Technologies donated the Dell EMC Isilon storage as part of a partnership it forged with the Hall of Fame in late 2016. The partnership also included Dell sponsoring the Hall of Fame Open tournament in Newport for five years.

Doug Stark, the ITHF museum director, said his organization decided to go digital to better manage its historic items.

“First, we want to digitize all of our collection so we know everything we have and it’s well organized,” Stark said. “The second part is, we want people around the world to be able to access this. One of the ways might be going to our web site and being able to type in and search everything on Arthur Ashe, or everything we have on the U.S. Open or any Hall of Famer.

“We also want to take the digitized assets and incorporate them into social media and produce some videos. Getting it organized is the key to getting it out to the world.”

Stark estimated it could take five to 10 years just digitizing the Hall of Fame’s current assets on the Dell EMC Isilon array, and new materials constantly come in. “We will prioritize what should be digitized and how to roll this out to the public,” he said.

The museum artifacts run the gamut from a Roger Federer hologram to more than 1,100 rackets, 250 scrapbooks of tennis greats, 3,500 video and audio recordings, 600 pieces of tennis art and a 5,000-plus book library. The museum was established in 1881 and Newport hosted the U.S. Nationals tournament – the forerunner of the U.S. Open – from 1881 through 1914. The Hall of Fame began inducting retired greats in 1955.

But Stark said space constraints and sheer volume of its inventory mean the museum could display less than 10% of its artifacts. The digitization project will greatly increase that total.

“The Hall of Fame’s mission is to preserve and promote the history of tennis,” Stark said. “[Dell EMC Isilon storage] helps us to preserve that. Now that we know how to use that, we can start to promote the history of tennis using digitization as a tool.”

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