Tennis fans play ball with utility computing

Tennis fans gathering scores and statistics from the official 2004 Australian Open Web site will also be accessing the computer systems being used to demonstrate protein folding and financial applications, according to the event’s technology sponsor IBM.

Although 2004 is the twelfth time IBM has sponsored the Open, the company’s general manager of software sales for Australia and New Zealand, Mitchell Young, said new infrastructure management software is making its debut this year.

“Tennis Australia is leveraging infrastructure management software as well as hardware and services this year,” Young said. “IBM’s software management family can manage dynamic workloads on the same infrastructure. We can also dynamically provision processing power for protein folding computations and financial services applications. This is the first time Tennis Australia’s infrastructure is being used for something else other than the Web site.”

The Australian Open 2004 Web site is hosted by IBM on xSeries servers running Linux and pSeries servers running AIX.

“If Tennis Australia were to run the Web site in-house with enough capacity for a ‘just in case’ scenario it would require about 70 times more capacity than usual for only two weeks,” Young said. “To provision this is a very manual process so by partnering with IBM, Tennis Australia is an on-demand business.”

Financial details of the sponsorship were not disclosed; however, Young was adamant that the ROI for this type of service is “compelling”.

“With infrastructure management outsourcing, companies like Tennis Australia have reduced hardware requirements, provisioning time, and a reduction in human error,” he said. “This leads to improved quality of services.”

Tennis Australia’s IT manager, Chris Simpfendorfer, said the outsourcing agreement achieves 100 percent ROI.

“I don’t think this partnership can be underestimated as we get a very good deal for the money we spend,” Simpfendorfer said. “There are not too many vendors that can provide this type of service as an entire solution.”

Tennis Australia has experience with other vendors technologies but most is provided by IBM.

“One of the benefits of working with IBM is that there is one port of call and any problems are not ‘someone else’s fault’,” Simpfendorfer said. “Also, the fact that the same infrastructure we use is being used for other computing projects is of no concern. It really demonstrates the extra capacity.”

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