Volume 23, Number 19 -- May 20, 2013

IBM i Involved In Ticket Fixing

Published: May 20, 2013

by Dan Burger

It's not exactly what you think. This isn't about speeding tickets or parking tickets. It's about tickets to sporting events and how the IBM i platform and a software vendor in the United Kingdom have teamed up to create a faster, more dependable, and much more user friendly experience for buying tickets and merchandise. It's also about what a performance boost, courtesy of Power7 processors, and an innovation boost, thanks to the cloud, can mean for business.

Talent Sport is software that runs on IBM Power Systems servers and the IBM i operating system. It has a successful record based on the experiences of sports franchises ("clubs" is the preferred term over there) in the UK, Turkey, and South Africa. So much so that the company that created Talent Sport, IRIS Ticketing, is taking its software to a global market, with the cloud playing a key role.

IRIS designed Talent Sport to run on IBM i because it provides a system that is capable of managing high volumes of ticket sales without the problems or downtime that comes with other platforms, says Alison Dalrymple, product director at IRIS. Traditionally the software has been an on-premise, licensed product, but IRIS has already moved Talent Sport into the cloud and is experiencing interest from its clients. There is enough interest that IRIS believes it can grow its hosted business well beyond the current customer base.

"The degree of migration from existing customers from on-premise to hosted is reflective of the new business we intend to win," says Mark Dewell, managing director of IRIS Ticketing. "One of the inhibiting factors when we go to market with the on-premise IBM proposition can be the capital investment required for the underlying infrastructure, plus the skills and competencies required for managing the infrastructure. If you take that out of the equation, by moving to a hosted structure, it has been a successful business model for us. I think it will continue to grow."

IRIS declined to provide details of its data center, citing corporate policies against such disclosures, but it is said to meet Tier 3 requirements for concurrently maintainable site infrastructure.

For the time being, IRIS reports its on-premise customers are upgrading to the latest version of Talent Sport as they are making the move to Power7 boxes and IBM i 7.1. Chris Matthews, software development manager at IRIS, estimated that half of the company's customers have upgraded their servers and moved to either IBM i 6.1 or 7.1.

The performance benefits are considerable, as demonstrated by one IRIS customer who provided a glimpse of what seems to be a common upgrade experience.

Since replacing its System i 525 with 4 GB of memory and running V5R4 with a Power 720 server with 32 GB of memory, and running i 7.1, the Liverpool Football Club handled the sale of more than 10,000 tickets in 45 minutes, 29,000 tickets during one day, and 100,000 tickets within four days with no downtime. The Power 720 has two of its six cores activated, so it has the capability of providing additional power by activating additional cores as well as increasing RAM.

As configured, the increase in IBM processor power and main memory enabled the Liverpool club to increase the concurrency on its server and therefore increase throughput on ticket sales. This not only allowed the club to sell more online, but the customer experience has improved as the site is more responsive and the buying process quicker.

"The upgrade has at least doubled our capacity on the Talent Sport system, and may even have tripled it," says Phil Dutton, head of ticketing and hospitality at Liverpool Football Club. "This makes a significant difference to the speed with which fans can purchase their tickets, which cuts waiting times and helps improve overall customer satisfaction."

"This is a highly robust platform, which makes it a key factor in the Talent Sport's ability to manage very high volumes of ticket sales without any problems or downtime," Dalrymple says. "The elder of Liverpool's two existing servers had run without any significant issues for several years, but to gain some headroom for future requirements, we recommended replacing it with a new model with latest-generation technology."

The IRIS software performs like a CRM-driven purchasing platform, with X86 Web servers on the front end that request and display customer information and all the business logic and business processes handled by the IBM i server. Originally it was designed solely for ticketing. That's when ticket sales accounted for 90 percent of a sports franchise's revenue.

It has evolved into software that handles a myriad of revenue possibilities such as hospitality, merchandise, non-game day events at the facility, and patron memberships for select groups such as season ticket holders. The software captures data from the purchasing transactions that establishes a profile for each customer that can drive additional transactions and significant commercial opportunity for the venue or stadium. In this regard it relies on the DB2 for i database to provide broader support for business.


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Editor: Timothy Prickett Morgan
Contributing Editors: Dan Burger, Joe Hertvik, Victor Rozek,
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