news IBM announced yesterday that it is developing a global private cloud computing system for the 2012 Australian Open as part of its technology partnership for the international Grand Slam tennis tournament.
IBM has long provided managed services, including consulting services and hardware and software solutions for building clouds for Australian customers, but has not been forthcoming about its cloud computing strategy to the Australian market until now.
According to a statement by IBM, the IBM private cloud is a virtualised environment hosted in three data centres based in the US. The private cloud enables continuous access to content, including a raised level of match and player data, from the Australian Open for millions of global fans, broadcasters and players.
The Australian Open organisers, Tennis Australia, can use the private cloud to rapidly scale its data in real time and ensure uninterrupted availability even in the event of a total data centre outage. IBM has virtualised a good deal of the event’s data infrastructure and server migration providing higher flexibility in technology solutions, which can scale up or down according to the fans’ changing demands.
In IBM’s statement, Samir Mahir, CIO of Tennis Australia, stressed that all tennis fans are important to the organisers, whether they attend the event or are watching from their homes. “We want to give a connected experience for the Australian Open. The private cloud solution provides the necessary volume of Australian Open data 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 even during the busiest periods of the competition” explained Mahir.
IBM has previously leveraged the private cloud at other Grand Slam tournaments to satisfy the data integrity and scalability needs of the USA, France and UK organisers. Mahir spoke about the high need for elasticity of computing power when dealing with audiences of a major tournament: “For most of the year Tennis Australia is a small and medium size business, but for two weeks every January we host the Australian Open and become a large global enterprise. We need to be able to rapidly adjust to the number of fans accessing our digital content and their changing interests throughout the competition.”
The Australian Open website, which was launched in 1996, has had a whopping 10 million unique visitors, with a 45% increase in the number of users and a 43% increase in page views since 2008. The cost per user has dropped by 35% and the cost per page view has also come down by 34% since 2008.
Mahir said that IBM’s private cloud allows the tournament organisers to manage peaks and troughs throughout the design, testing and live phases of the Australian Open with cost-effectiveness and flexibility. At this year’s event, Tennis Australia will be able to provision a new web server in under three minutes and transfer a live application workload from one IBM power System to another in under four minutes.
This year, the Australian Open will feature an enhanced IBM SlamTracker, a live scoring and analysis tool introduced in 2008, delivering match statistics across all courts, live text commentary and a momentum visualiser for featured matches. SlamTracker uses IBM business analytics technology to examine more than 39 million data points from seven years of Grand Slam tournaments, analysing for styles and patterns of winning players. The analysis is compared to the opponents’ style and patterns to establish the keys to the match for each player. A total of 256 singles matches will be played on seven broadcast courts and analysed.More than 35km of cables have been laid throughout the stadium.
IBM also plans to add an Android smartphone application to its existing iPhone app for the Australian Open, delivering live scores, highlights and news to additional mobile users. The private cloud will enable a direct interface with all of IBM’s front-end services.
The project lead for IBM’s Australian Open, Sarah Cole, said that 2012 is the nineteenth year of IBM’s role as Official Technology Partner of the Australian Open. She claimed that IBM’s investment in novel technologies has transformed Grand Slam tennis into one of the most sophisticated spectator sports in the world. “One of the hallmarks of the partnership with Tennis Australia has been the successful adoption of technology innovation to enrich the Australian Open experience for players, fans and organisers,” Cole said.