IBM Serves Up Private Cloud At The 2012 French Open
June 11, 2012 Jenny Thomas
To fans of the 2012 French Open tennis tournament, cloud technology might be as interesting as a rain delay. But those same fans would be the first to go all John McEnroe on the closest computing device if they couldn’t access the real-time action or the latest data on their favorite player.
Fan interest in the French Open, which wrapped up on June 10, was anticipated to drive a visitor surge of 100 times normal traffic to the tournament Web site at www.rolandgarros.com, which is impressive on its own. Traffic on the Roland-Garros site has been growing consistently year-to-year, with more than 330 million page views in 2011, 37 million visits (versus 31 million in 2010), and more than 11.2 million unique visitors (a 21 percent increase over 2010). The numbers will be even bigger when 2012 is done.
As part of its technology partnership with the international event, IBM, which has experience with tennis as a past sponsor of and technology provider for the U.S. Open, served up a global private cloud to deliver real-time data, statistics, and videos to global tennis fans of the 2012 French Open tournament. The tennis systems are always used to highlight some aspects of Blue technology, and this time around, IBM wants to show off its cloudy wares, scaling IT systems up and down to meet changing demand while providing a versatile, fan-friendly environment. Site visitors could get transparent and real-time access to what they’re looking for via many different technology platforms, including the Web, smartphones, tablets, and good old television.
According to IBM, the SmartCloud that supported the 2012 French Open site is “comprised of a fleet of geographically dispersed servers in three locations virtualized as one.” More specifically, said Tracy Sullivan, external relations for IBM Systems and Technology Group, the private cloud services that IBM is providing to support the French Open website are comprised of Power Systems iron running AIX, System x servers running Linux, SAN storage arrays, and WebSphere middleware.
The fact that the IBM i is not a part of this deployment is not a huge surprise. Back in 2008 when IBM was providing the technology infrastructure for the U.S. Open tennis tournament, IT Jungle reported IBM had ditched its IBM i and AIX systems, instead porting all the applications, which did scoring and provided Web applications, to Linux. It looks like AIX is back in the game for the tennis systems.
In addition to pre-match analysis and real-time updates of action on the court, IBM used advanced analytics via its SlamTracker technology to give fans insider access on how an individual player needs to perform to do well in a match. SlamTracker, which is built on SPSS statistical analysis software running on System x machines, takes scores, statistics, and player analysis to visually render a range of match data in real time. By clicking on a point on the SlamTracker match timeline, fans see the details behind that point so that they can better understand match highlights, turning points, and player momentum. The SlamTracker data analysis tool was available for use during and after a match.
“The excitement of the tennis fan experience is important to us, whether the fans are in the stands or watching from home, and we want to give a dynamic live experience for Roland-Garros,” said Alex Loth, Event CIO at the Fédération Française de Tennis. “The private cloud provides and analyzes the spikes of data during Roland-Garros to anyone in the world at any time without any excess demand affecting its quality or availability. This means fans can expect real-time access to more dynamic, content-rich matches even during the busiest periods of the competition.”
Following the tournament, IBM will help the French Open site scale down to support regular operations.