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IBM serves up Australian Open results on demand

IBM serves up Australian Open results on demand

IBM’s technological innovation enhances Australia’s biggest sporting event

Melbourne, AUSTRALIA – January 18, 2005 -- Marking thirteen consecutive years as the Official Information Technology Provider to the Australian Open tennis tournament, IBM today announced a range of innovative new and enhanced initiatives to support the championship in its centenary year.

For Australian Open 2005, IBM will introduce a new component to the technology solution – the recently launched IBM eServer i5 server. The new eServer i5, the latest product of IBM’s eServer iSeries family, powers the Internet scoring system that feeds data to the official Australian Open Web site.

The eServer i5 consolidates several existing Australian Open systems into one, reducing the complexity of the solution and making systems administration simpler, whilst increasing the required performance, flexibility and reliability. Other innovative technologies supporting the Australian Open include the Linux open standards operating system and on demand hosting services.

The scoring system is crucial to providing real-time point-by-point scoring and statistics craved by loyal fans. In 2004 the Australian Open Web site received nearly 11 million visits from almost 1.8 million people in 187 countries.

IBM’s innovative technology allows Tennis Australia to manage the peaks in demand on the Australian Open Web site, which experiences spikes of up to 80 times its normal traffic during two-week tournament.

In 2004 more than 520,000 fans attended the event at Melbourne Park, with a record 3,830 hours of TV action broadcast to 182 territories across the globe reaching an amazing 527 million homes and an international audience of 340 million. However, year-round Tennis Australia is a small business of 40 employees. During the two weeks of Australian Open, Tennis Australia will scale up to around 1,400 staff and will indirectly need a further 3,500 support staff.

Cost effectively managing the demands of an event of this scale requires a highly responsive, integrated business model. The underlying technological infrastructure must be flexible, open and resilient. According to Paul McNamee, Chief Executive of Tennis Australia, IBM innovation is central to the event's success.

"IBM innovation helps us enhance the Australian Open experience for tennis fans around the globe. IBM technology helps the Australian Open control costs and manage risks whilst supporting Tennis Australia’s focus on business growth," said Mr McNamee.

"Tennis Australia requires IT infrastructure that is reliable, secure and responsive to keep up with the constant activity and excitement of the Australian Open," he said. "By focusing on our core business and partnering with IBM, Tennis Australia -- itself a small business -- is able to serve up one of the largest sporting events in the world."

Virtualised Infrastructure
To accommodate fluctuating demand from tennis fans, IBM will link to a powerful, global grid computing system. By connecting hundreds of servers together to form a grid network, the grid behaves like a giant super-computer. That helps assure Tennis Australia that there is more than enough capacity for its needs.

The grid uses IBM’s Tivoli software to automatically allocate server capacity to manage the peaks in demand for the Web site. When demand is lower, the spare capacity will be used to carry out IBM research projects, including protein folding calculations for life sciences and a credit analysis system for financial services. The grid system demonstrates how organisations of all kinds can substantially improve the use and cost effectiveness of their IT systems.

Janet Matton, Director, Strategy and Transformation, IBM Global Services Australia, said “Grid computing provides Tennis Australia with a highly responsive technology platform that supports the growth of its business and can be integrated seamlessly, without a large capital investment in permanent infrastructure that would be under-utilised for 50 weeks of the year.”

“Grid networks allow organisations to get the computing power they need, when they need it," she said. "This offers huge potential to medium sized businesses such as Tennis Australia in terms cost savings and the flexibility and agility required to be an on demand organisation."

Open Innovation
The use of Linux across IBM’s servers further increases the manageability and flexibility of Tennis Australia’s IT infrastructure.

All the scoring and speed of serve information from the courts is instantly transmitted to the IBM central scoring system, which uses IBM BladeCenter servers running Linux to process the data. The data is distributed in real-time to key services supporting the tournament, such as the Web site and Australian Open Intranet, allowing fans, players and the media access to up-to-the-second statistic -- as they want it, where they want.

Other services and technology
As the Official Technology Provider for the Australian Open, IBM provides Tennis Australia with an on demand business solution to handle up to 80 times the regular traffic, and scale down when the tournament is over. The technology and services include IBM eServers, ThinkPad and Netvista PCs, IBM middleware software -- including WebSphere, Tivoli and DB2 -- and a range of business intelligence, application management and on demand hosting services from IBM Global Services.

A combination of these technologies and services underpins an end-to-end scoring system that supports key Australian Open 2005 functions, including:
- on-court scoreboards
- results kiosks
- the Match Update Centre located in Garden Square
- the Australian Open Intranet site used by media, players and officials
- the graphics interface for a number of major television broadcasters
- the official Web site of Australian Open 2005

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