There’s No “i” In French Open Tennis
June 10, 2013 Jenny Thomas
IBM has been providing technology to the French Open since 1985. As you might imagine, a lot has changed in the last 28 years. At one time, back in the early 2000s, the AS/400 and then the iSeries played a role, but these days the tennis data is served on a private power cloud.
The French Open, which just wrapped up on Sunday, has been known to draw up to 100 times normal traffic to the tournament Web site at www.rolandgarros.com. With that kind of a visitor surge, it is easy to see why IBM’s SmartCloud services are a necessity. But there’s a lot more to it than just the ability to handle a lot of traffic.
The history of the progression of IT services is quite interesting. Statistics were first introduced to French Open fans way back in 1987. It was almost ten years later before real-time stats were brought online for a worldwide audience in 1996. But today’s savvy fan needs more than a few stats. Modern tennis followers are used to all the bells and whistles that analytics can produce.
The progression of data handling at the French Open.
Last year, IBM introduced its SlamTracker technology, which analyzes over eight years of Grand Slam data–equal to about 41 million data points–to identify patterns in players and their styles. Before each match, historical player data is examined to identify key performance indicators, which IBM calls “Keys to the Match.” During the match, SlamTracker, which is built on SPSS statistical analysis software running on System x machines, records each player’s performance and measures it against their keys in real time on www.rolandgarros.com, providing fans with a deeper level of insight as the match unfolds.
But the analytics is not limited to the data gathered on the courts. IBM’s Social Sentiment Index monitors Twitter and other social mediums to offer real-time public opinion snapshots. IBM believes making use of data that is available from sources like Twitter illustrates how analytics technology can identify important and otherwise non-obvious trends to help businesses make better decisions about how to connect with customers.
Since 2008, IBM has been increasingly leveraging a SmartCloud, using a highly virtualized, optimized and dynamic infrastructure. The SmartCloud at this year’s French Open is comprised of a fleet of three servers in three locations virtualized as one, built on Power Systems iron running AIX, System x servers running Linux, SAN storage arrays, and WebSphere middleware. Having three separate data centers gives IBM the ability to operate at 150 percent of predicted capacity, which is necessary to keep up with user demand, and be able to maintain coverage should any one data center go down.
This technology isn’t limited to the French Open. IBM employs these same resources at all four Grand Slam tournaments, which also include Wimbledon, the Australian Open, and the U.S. Opens, and has recently branched into the Masters Golf Tournament.
It’s a shame IBM couldn’t save a piece of the action for the IBM i. With all this computing going on, the IBM i would be an excellent re-addition to the roster, and could, dare I say, put the “i” in “team”.