The IBM advantage to Grand Slam Tennis

Wimbledon 2009:

The All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club is very proud of its reputation for staging The Wimbledon Tennis Championships – a unique event which has managed to keep pace with the demands of modern sport and multi-media broadcasting while retaining the charm of lawn tennis played in an English country garden.

Recently, change has accelerated bringing previously unimagined benefits to players, spectators, the media and those who work at the event. As a result, the popularity of Wimbledon continues to increase and it’s often hard to remember that a private members’ club stages this global, grand slam event.

For two weeks every year, the Club’s infrastructure scales up to accommodate nearly half a million spectators onsite, the demands of the world’s sporting media and over three quarters of a billion television viewers on 129 TV channels in 173 countries. Last year the number of unique visitors to the official Wimbledon website – www.wimbledon.org (link resides outside of ibm.com) – reached over 10 million.

Since 1990, IBM has worked with Wimbledon to make sure the world’s oldest and most prestigious tennis tournament is also the smartest. Finding smarter ways to improve the experience of players and fans alike. Match Analysis DVDs that allow players and coaches to analyze their performances, identifying ways to improve their game. Delivering realtime player progress and scores to millions of fans around the world. And this year, improving the experience of these fans and those at the tournament itself by developing mobile applications that allow them to engage with Wimbledon in new ways, whether there in person or in their own garden 5,000 miles away!

Wimbledon has always held a place as the first amongst equals. Wimbledon is both the traditional home of the game, and a contemporary challenge to technique and temperament. It is also never afraid to innovate, and over the years, IBM has worked with Wimbledon to introduce many of the innovations that today we take for granted - and this year is no exception.

As well as introducing some smart phone applications, IBM further enhanced the Championships web site that IBM builds and hosts every year. In 2009 users saw a refreshed site with an increased level of personalization, and the IBM Widget to engage fans in the action. This simple yet informative widget extended the tournament’s digital presence and helped engage fans in new ways.

At the heart of the solution that IBM provided to Wimbledon and the other major sporting events it sponsors, was a massively scalable, dynamic robust and virtualized infrastructure. Providing such an infrastructure in a way that is affordable and increasingly energy efficient is a difficult balancing act, but one that IBM has achieved through a smart use of technology techniques and software such as IBM Active Energy manager.

Over the past three years, energy use on this infrastructure has fallen by 40% and cooling demand by 48%, whilst site visits have increased 26%. Overall through the same period, cost per visit has declined by 38%.
These are just a few ways in which IBM helps Wimbledon retain its title as the premier Grand Slam. Find out more at http://www.ibm.com/innovation/grandslam/en/wim_index.html

Roland Garros 2009:

For 24 years now, the Fédération Française de Tennis (FFT) and IBM have been working together to make Roland Garros one of the world’s most exciting sports events. As the Official Information Technology and Internet Partner for the French Open – and for all the other Grand Slam championships – IBM is committed to efficient and innovative data collecting, processing and transmission: statistics, serve speeds, TV graphics.
The official website, www.rolandgarros.com (link resides outside of ibm.com), reflects the partnership’s growing success. One of IBM and FFT’s prime objectives is to make the tournament accessible to the greatest number of users possible and to draw fans into the heart of the action while reinforcing their environmental commitment.

The 2009 IBM solution for Roland Garros was to implement a dynamic, smart and cost-efficient infrastructure with IBM POWER6 processor technology. Since 2006, IBM has been focusing on virtualizing the infrastructure to enhance systems management and optimize resource utilization. Distributed over three different sites, the virtualized servers are scaled up or down according to demand. This method of managing extensive virtual resources, known as cloud computing, ensures the network is able to cope with dramatic peaks in online traffic during the tournament.

Thus, over a three-year period, the number of servers has gone from sixty to six. In 2009, six POWER6 systems replaced the nine POWER5 servers used in 2008. This technology, which boosts performance while reducing energy usage, opens up completely new horizons.

POWER6 technology is particularly well suited to Roland Garros’s fluctuating needs. The powerful, scalable microprocessor allows the allocated resources to rapidly and automatically adjust to traffic that is increasing year-on-year, with 35 million visits in 2008 compared to 27 million in 2007.

These changing technologies also enable the FFT to address environmental concerns and reduce costs. Since 2006, truly substantial savings have been generated with a decrease of 40 per cent in power consumption and of 48 per cent in cooling load. On the other hand, for the same period, online visits have risen 26 per cent while cost per visit has dropped 38 per cent.
IBM also provided new and enriched services for Internet users on www.rolandgarros.com (link resides outside of ibm.com) including “Visual Match” for a deeper understanding of the key moments of a match, a dedicated forum, a widget in both English and French, plus features enabling Internet users to enjoy the tournament as if they were present.

During the 15-day French Open, web traffic swelled to 100x the year-round figure. The infrastructure supported the website which drew over 6.3 million Internet users in 2008 for more than 260 million page views.
For more information on the 2009 Roland Garros, please visit http://www.ibm.com/innovation/grandslam/index.html

The Australian Open

Each year Tennis Australia and IBM strive to improve the Australian Open and the experience of all involved including the fans, the players, the officials and the media.

The 2008 Australian Open saw a record global television audience of 1.91 billion people and almost seven and a half million unique users visit the Official Australia Open website. These are amazing figures when you consider that Tennis Australia has to secure the majority of its annual revenue, scale up its workforce to 37 times its annual size, manage huge spikes in web traffic, significantly grow (then shrink) its IT infrastructure and manage its carbon footprint over a period of extreme growth - all in two critical weeks.

That's why Tennis Australia relies on IBM's expertise, technology, solutions and support to make sure the Australian Open runs as smoothly as possible. This year was no different with record numbers, world class tennis and a bigger and better tennis experience for all.

For the 2009 Australian Open, IBM worked with Tennis Australia and various partners to deliver many products and services for fans, players, media and tournament officials.
In conjunction with Tennis Australia, IBM designed, published, produced and hosted AustralianOpen.com (link resides outside of ibm.com), a state-of-the-art website, which created a more interactive and media-rich experience for fans.

Like all Grand Slam sites, the Australian Open must meet the expectations of millions of fans who flood the site at tournament time - but without the year-round expense of a vast infrastructure. To complement the existing systems, during the tournament period, IBM designed and implemented a flexible, self-managing, cross-platform infrastructure used a Service Oriented Architecture (SOA), and multiple geographically-dispersed server farms, virtualized as one, to scale up and support a massive increase in traffic of over 100 times its typical volume. It then scales down when the tournament is over – without complicating IT management and without the need for Tennis Australia to make a large and costly permanent infrastructure investment. IBM's virtualization solution has reduced energy consumption by 40% and cooling load by 48%.

Fans for the 2009 Australian Open were also able to use the IBM SlamTracker which allowed users to interact with the draw, by following their selected players and the tournament schedule integrated within the draw. Also provided was an interactive venue map that allowed users to see selected courts.

Other products and solutions helping to enrich the fan experience included: courtside radar guns, an integrated end-to-end scoring system, match information displays and up-to-the-minute statistics.

For the players, there were Match Analysis DVDs which helped players and coaches analyze their game; IBM also gave players access to the web, e-mail and the official IBM Tennis Australia Website, www.australianopen.com (link resides outside of ibm.com).

The over 1,400 media could access a wireless Internet Hotspot and receive closed circuit TV feeds which would give fans, media, broadcasters and tournament officials access to real-time scores, statistics, etc.

The Chair Umpire Solution (CHUMP) allowed umpires to record match data during every game. The umpires use a special PDA to record information from each move.
In addition, there were numerous IBM products and services that played an important role in this Grand Slam tournament.

For the tenth consecutive year the Australian Open attracted more than half a million patrons with an official tournament attendance of 603,160 in 2009 and the highest ever day/night attendance in Grand Slam history recorded three times during the first week.
For more information, visit www.ibm.com/australianopen

The US Open:

For over 18 years, IBM has worked with the United States Tennis Association (USTA) to provide the best of the US Open tournament for millions of tennis fans worldwide.

Like many mid-sized businesses, the USTA was clear in its goals, but building and managing a technology solution to achieve those objectives was outside its core competency. For the USTA, the challenge was connecting with tennis fans and highlighting the Open. And while technology-based factors were a critical part of the USTA’s decision, its unique business-level requirements mandated a need for a flexible cost structure. IBM was perfectly positioned to provide the capacity the USTA needed when it needed it. Without having to make a significant IT infrastructure investment, the USTA could attain its technology goals and support its mission.

As the Official Information Technology provider to the US Open, IBM has provided everything from real-time data from the court to Slamtracker.

At the National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows, NY, on-court electronic display boards communicate a variety of information to fans in the stands. By interfacing with the scoring system, displays provide scoring and schedule information. Fans also get player bios, match stats, competition data and custom messages, as well as score and stat updates on players and matches.

Each year IBM works with the USTA to create and host the official tournament Web site.
This site highlights many of the business challenges IBM and US Open organizers face and how they have innovated to solve them. One of the best examples of this partnership is USOpen.org. The official tournament site offers real-time scores direct from the court for every single match. You can also find updated statistics, video highlights of the day’s action, and player-by-player coverage. During the 2007 US Open, the site attracted 7.3 million visitors in just two weeks.

Like all Grand Slam sites, USOpen.org must meet the expectations of millions of fans that flood the site at tournament time – but without the year-round expense of a vast infrastructure. To complement the existing systems, IBM has designed and implemented a virtualization solution over geographically dispersed sites. By virtualizing them as one during the tournament, they easily handle the huge peaks in traffic.

A major attraction for many fans is myUSOpen where they can customize their tournament experience to get the most from every match. After choosing up to five of their favorite players, they can follow their progress with stats, scores, match results, interviews and news stories. Plus, they can customize the content section to get just the information they want. It’s an effective way for US Open to engage with fans and generate a sense of participation.

IBM created a number of other enhancements to the overall Web site experience. PointTracker, for example, is a tool that uses animated graphics to recreate the trajectory of every shot hit by every player. On-court cameras capture and record ball position data for every forehand, ace and volley, which is immediately fed into the IBM scoring system. Once it is integrated with the scoring data, the shot data is pushed to the Web site so visitors can follow the action in 3D on a virtual court. It’s the next best thing to bringing fans down to the event.

IBM also developed innovative ways for the media to access and communicate information globally including an Intranet system which provides access to real-time scores as well as statistics and historical information. Stats are matched to graphics and fed to TV broadcasters around the world.

To ease the burden on USTA staff, IBM provided end-to-end support services, including the collecting and publishing of vast amounts of data from dozens of simultaneous matches quickly and reliably. Through virtualization and autonomic computing solutions, the entire system is completely scalable, enabling improved utilization of IT, information and staff.

The USTA works hard to provide the best experience possible for every fan, whether they’re in Ashe stadium or in front of their computer. Tennis fans may only see how the technology enhances their US Open experience for two weeks every year. But together, the USTA and IBM plan, develop, design and implement all of the technology to run the tournament through an ongoing collaboration. And ultimately, it’s the close, collaborative nature of the partnership between these two world-class organizations that make this team the “perfect match.”
For more information, visit: http://www.ibm.com/innovation/grandslam/en/us_index_low.html