Sandia National Laboratories

Sandia Laboratories adopts Mediasite to securely share time-sensitive research both internally to employees and externally to scientists and researchers from around the world.

Sandia Laboratories adopts Mediasite to securely share time-sensitive research both internally to employees and externally to scientists and researchers from around the world. Sandia National Laboratories needed to communicate high-security information to thousands of scientists and support staff members in four locations. Travel between locations was difficult and expensive, and the highly technical level of material required quality graphic capabilities. The company turned to Mediasite for a webcasting solution that could ensure secure transfer of complex information.

Sandia National Laboratories bought additional Mediasite units after only a few months of use and can now deliver timely information to its entire staff simultaneously. Everything from health information sessions to guest researcher presentations to scientific collaborations is streamed live and on-demand via Mediasite. Sandia National Laboratories now preserves an immense amount of knowledge for future generations of experts.

At a glance

  • Company needed to distribute secure and highly technical information in a multimedia format with little or no production time
  • Mediasite captures and preserves valuable knowledge that may otherwise have been lost as experts retire is captured and preserved
  • Retention increases as employees repeatedly review complex material
  • Travel and lag time reduced while still ensuring flawless communication between primary locations

Challenge

Sandia Laboratories has two primary locations in the United States: New Mexico and California. At each location, thousands of scientists, engineers and biologists from all fields and support staff are working together on projects related to nuclear stockpile safety, energy and infrastructure assurance, non-proliferation, defense systems and homeland security. After September 11, travel between the New Mexico and California sites became more difficult and budgets became less flexible. Sandia Laboratories required a new more efficient method to communicate and share important information in a timely manner. “We wanted to ensure this communication was available between all of our locations,” said Rogulja Wolf , streaming system and content manager at Sandia Laboratories.

The need for a streaming solution that offered the ability to create, manage and distribute content within strict security settings led Wolf to evaluate alternative streaming methods beyond what was currently in use at the lab. Sandia transitioned away from MPEG-4 because of integration and technical compatibility issues. Sandia Laboratories had returned to using a basic level Windows Media Encoder & Player supported with an internally created taxonomic file structure and an adapted COTS (Commercial Off the Shelf) asset management tool that was primarily for documents.

“We kept looking for a complete solution that would allow us to purchase, use and maintain only one system, not several,” he explained. “It was not acceptable to adopt a solution that just worked ‘okay.’ Being a pre-eminent research lab comprised of the foremost experts in many fields, we required a streaming technology that would allow for highly technical graphics to be displayed – with a resolution close to or the same as the original VGA image display.”

Solution

The organization sought out and purchased Sonic Foundry’s Mediasite during the search process for a new video streaming solution. The video services team immediately began capturing and encoding content within days of the server unit being installed. Sandia experienced enormous success with the first implementation and placed an order for additional Recorders within the first few months of use.

“Mediasite immediately proved itself as the most complete and functional tool we had experienced to date for our online video and graphic communications needs,” said Wolf. “Besides the fact that Mediasite was more effective and reliable, and offered a more user friendly viewer interface than previous streaming systems we had employed, it was, and continues to be, the people behind the product that is one of the most important factors. Service and support and people that listen and work with you are at the top of our list when we are choosing a product vendor. Sandia is not alone in thinking that we have ‘special’ needs. And though obviously Sandia is not Sonic Foundry’s only customer, they have been very generous with their time and expertise.”

“Mediasite has allowed our organization to deliver a powerful solution to every person at Sandia National Laboratories,” said Wolf. “By implementing Mediasite as our streaming solution, we have been able to make streaming a natural and expected component of our communication infrastructure.”

Sandia Laboratories streams information both internally to employees and externally to scientists, researchers and interested people from around the world. A variety of content is captured and distributed – ranging from general all-hands meetings to high-level collaborative engineering reviews. Each year the Director of the Laboratory delivers the “State of the Labs” presentation, which is distributed online to both local and national government leaders. Sandia Labs also has a long-standing colloquium series. The goal is to bring in outside speakers from the different fields of science and engineering to share their thoughts and insights on current research being conducted outside the labs. While these presentations may originate at the New Mexico or California facility, they are webcast live and made accessible on-demand to all Sandia affiliated complexes.

Sandia’s internal staff also records health, wellness and safety trainings for employees and consultants of the lab. “The Sandia Health Group captures insightful presentations on health issues of different kinds,” said Wolf. “We also have begun using Mediasite for our internal, behavior-based safety training where a great deal of information is shared and must be reviewed. Mediasite simply works for our employees because presentations are easily accessible any time and can be reviewed multiple times to accommodate our employee’s schedules and personal lives.”

Result

Since implementing Mediasite, Sandia Laboratories has increased its ability to communicate timely information in a secure and convenient format. With Mediasite, staff can capture highly detailed images and graphics and archive these presentations for viewing by scientists or researchers who join the lab at a later time.

“We are able to manage knowledge in a way we never have before – if we don’t preserve this information, it will be lost,” said Wolf. “Sandia Laboratories is unique in that we do not produce the same product over and over again. Our research goals are constantly changing and evolving. What we produce is knowledge and a lot of that knowledge resides within the people here, and without preserving that sensitive information, it will be lost as our experts retire.”

Continuing education for researchers and scientists is captured and disseminated to all interested employees at the lab. Sandia workers also access information related to research being conducted at the facility from leading educational institutions. This content is downloaded via satellite and then converted into streaming presentations for employees to watch or review as part of their post-graduate education programs.

“As we transition from a nuclear weapons stockpile maintenance focus to a wider variety of research and development, we are constantly exploring ways we can continue to share the information we are discovering,” said Wolf.

About Sandia National Laboratories

Since 1949, Sandia National Laboratories has developed science-based technologies that support national security. Today, the 300+ million Americans depend on Sandia's technology solutions to solve national and global threats to peace and freedom. Through science and technology, people, infrastructure, and partnerships, Sandia's mission is to meet national needs in five key areas: nuclear weapons, energy and infrastructure assurance, nonproliferation, defense systems and assessments and homeland security. Sandia is a government-owned, contractor operated (GOCO) facility. Sandia Corporation, a Lockheed Martin company, manages Sandia for the U.S. Department of Energy's National Nuclear Security Administration.