Penguin power serves up Aus open scores

Linux has made inroads into the enterprise on the back of commodity Intel and AMD processors, but this year's Australian Open tennis tournament will debut the open source operating system running on the Power architecture for its Internet scoring system.

The tournament, hosted by Tennis Australia, has a history of Linux use but this year it has been deployed on the latest generation iSeries Power 5-based system, according to IT manager Chris Simpfendorfer.

"This year, for the first time we have installed an eServer i5 520 running the Internet scoring system and the Web site staging server on Linux," Simpfendorfer said. "At the core of the technology used to deliver the official Australian Open Web site are IBM's iSeries i5 running Linux on a Power chip, IBM Intel-processor based xSeries servers running Linux, and IBM pSeries servers running AIX."

Simpfendorfer said the combination of Linux and AIX provides the Open Web site with the required flexibility, reliability and scalability.

Internally, Tennis Australia's intranet uses a DB2 express database running on Linux to store and process updates to player information received throughout the year.

Future opportunities for Linux within Tennis Australia, will depend on the situation as "we use Linux when it is the best platform for our IT needs", Simpfendorfer said.

"One of the keys to the success of Australian Open's IT infrastructure is that it is flexible and seamlessly integrated," he said. "By using Linux as part of this solution we can connect and integrate a diverse range of data, applications, devices, and people across our organization."

General manager of IBM's systems and technology group for Australia and New Zealand, Mark Latchford, said the iSeries also allowed Tennis Australia to consolidate diverse platforms onto an integrated system.

"Three xSeries Intel servers were consolidated onto the iSeries such that the bulk of capability is centralized on that system," Latchford said. "Virtualized infrastructure also lets Tennis Australia plug into an international grid environment for processing on demand."

Last year the Open's Web site was visited some 11 million times by almost 1.8 million people.

Latchford said there has been an average 60 percent increase in visits to the Grand Slam tennis Web sites since 2001 and the cost per visit during that time has come down by moe than 55 percent.

Tennis Australia is a 100-employee organization for most of the year and swells to 4000 during the Australian Open tournament when it provides IT infrastructure support for some 500,000 onsite fans, officials, players, and 1000 media.

"Tennis Australia has partnered with IBM for the past 13 years," Simpfendorfer sad. "If Tennis Australia managed the Australian Open IT infrastructure in-house it would remain significantly under-utilized for most of the year."

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