A closer look at the Australian Open cloud solution

australian open tennis ballI learned how to play tennis while working overseas in the Middle East and have been an avid follower since then. I can still remember when my work mates and friends gathered in one of our modern flats in the middle of the desert to watch the classic Wimbledon finals match between Lendl and Cash wherein my Aussie favourite won. There was no Internet or HD/Digital/3D LED TVs then, just the faithful CRT TV.

Fast forward to the 2013 Australian Open Tennis, where there is an official website, a private cloud supporting it and an HD Digital TV coverage. In the past 20 years, IBM and Tennis Australia have partnered to bring technology innovation to players and fans around the world (documented here).  I was able to obtain a bit of information from the IBM development team, who is supporting this website in the cloud and I want to share it in this blog.

Three active US-based data centres (DC) providing continuous availability

These three DCs are built out to handle 50 percent capacity each and have been tested by the team to provide the most cost effective setup. All workloads and data are deployed to all DCs, ensuring zero outage (the team can take down one of the sites for maintenance and it is not visible to the outside world). It also does not matter that the DCs are in the US because IBM’s extensive partner networks are delivering the site from over 500 points of presence around the world giving users near real-time experience regardless of which continent they are on. I’ve always believed that telecommunications is a key to the successful implementation of a cloud solution and this proves my point.

Live application workload mobility in a matter of minutes

According to the development team, this cloud solution has capabilities of provisioning a new web server instance in less than 3 minutes. Also  live application workload can be moved from one system to another in less than 4 minutes and this mobility enables the upgrade of equipment or to perform maintenance or re-align capacity without any interruption of service. A few years back, I used to support servers and one of them had a broken network card.  I had to shutdown, install the new network card, start up and test while my users were furiously waiting for their applications to be online again. This scenario should be a thing of the past.

A private cloud with an enterprise view

This environment is fully virtualised which means that not only the servers are virtualized but also the network, storage and security. This allows the addition of new customers to the same physical environment and keeps them separated. In fact, I was advised that this cloud shares resources not only with Australian Open Tennis but US Open Tennis, Roland Garros, Wimbledon, US Open Golf, The Masters, Tony Awards and our own Another benefit of this cloud being private is the ongoing optimisation of internal efficiencies so that more workload (customers) can be brought in without growing the staffing levels. It also has an integrated monitoring capability which shows near real-time dashboards and reports.

Data analytics software working in the background feeding vital information to the cloud

Based on the tournament schedule of play, tennis player popularity, historical data logs and volume of social media conversations, IBM’s real-time data analytics software predicts the data demands from fans viewing the Australian Open website. IBM’s predictive cloud provisioning technology uses this demand forecast to automatically assign the appropriate level of computing power required ahead of time. I actually have been using the site trying things which may slow down the response time but I failed. I’m really very impressed with the quick response time considering how many people around the world are using it 24X7.

With this cloud being used in all the Grand Slam tennis tournaments, I can safely say that it will introduce more innovations in the years to come. As I said in my previous blog (10 things I like about cloud), the cloud opens up endless possibilities.

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