What’s new for IBM Cloud at the 2014 Australian Open?

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Last year I wrote a blog post about the Australian Open cloud solution. While most of the solution is still the same this year, there are some new things that have been added, so I would like to focus on these and provide my insights.

IBM ReturnServe powered by SoftLayer

Using IBM ReturnServe and my desktop this year, I have experienced what it is like to face a serve from Gael Monfils at 195 km/hr with a force of 3.1 newtons (statistics taken from his live serve on Rod Laver Arena at 9:03:14 PM 18 Jan 2014). After a few tries and following the suggested reaction time of 0.45 seconds, I was able to return the serve successfully. With thousands of people using this website from their computers and simulating the microsecond response time in virtual reality, I can imagine Tennis Australia requesting the fastest and most powerful configuration of hardware, software and network servers.

IBM provided an answer by hosting the application on SoftLayer, an IBM company. SoftLayer uses a Triple Network Architecture with a dedicated back-end network, which is explained more in detail in my colleague’s blog post: Three key advantages of using SoftLayer for cloud deployment.

(Related: How IBM Cloud is powering the 2014 Australian Open)

An iPad application for the ultimate digital experience at no charge

Also new for this year’s event is the iPad application, which I completely understand because consumers love tablets and forecasts show tablet sales surpassing PCs this year. This application enables fans to follow their favorite players, tweet messages of support to the player’s profile and track player popularity online using IBM Social Media Analytics. I have installed the mobile phone application on my Android smartphone and I am impressed by the user experience and performance.

The biggest challenge of mobile application development is to develop rich, cost-effective mobile apps in a fragmented technological landscape. This fragmented landscape not only includes mobile operating systems (such as Android, iOS, RIM and Windows), but also the various forms and sizes (such as smartphones, tablets and phablets), as well as frameworks (such as Apache Cordova, Dojo Mobile, jQuery and Sencha).  Last year, I joined the IBM Worklight study group hosted by IBM Software Group and learned about this open, complete and advanced mobile application platform that speeds the development, integration and management of mobile applications. It not only addresses the fragmented landscape problem, but also controls the growing portfolio of applications deployed “in the wild” as well as connecting the enterprise back-end services in a secure and scalable manner.

It’s true—Data is a game changer

I am a true believer in big data. To make an analogy, consider a water tank in the middle of the Australian bush (like the one in the movie Australia). Data is just like water in the tank: it is collected from the rain, it is dynamic and it is an essential requirement in our lives. The water from the tank must be collected, channelled through pipes and processed for different uses in the house and yard. It is purified for drinking or just used as-is for watering the plants.

Data from the Australian Open is also collected by the many employees and volunteers braving the 45 degrees Celsius (113 degrees Fahrenheit) heat who input the various raw data into the system (the water tank) which is supported by a Hadoop framework (the pipes and other plumbing). IBM big data analytics (the purifier) transforms data into useful information which is consumed by the various users (fans, umpires and media). Here is a sample of a point-in-time snapshot of this data that I am talking about:

With IBM committing $1 billion to a new IBM Watson supercomputer division this month, who knows? At next year’s Australian Open, we might see a “powered by IBM Watson” logo. If you’d like to continue this discussion, comment below or on Twitter @freztripo.

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