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A Grand Slam Solution

Illustration by James Taylor

Professional sports are big business. And big business can learn much from professional sports, especially when it comes to delivering an online experience that’s engaging, robust and valuable for customers.

IBM provides technical solutions for organizations and corporations in myriad markets. However, when it comes to online solutions, none is more compelling than what IBM has deployed for the Masters and U.S. Open golf tournaments and the four Grand Slam professional tennis tournaments: the Australian Open, Wimbledon, the French Open and the U.S. Open.

Just ask Rick Singer, vice president of Client Executive Marketing, IBM. Singer and his team manage the Web presence for these events—and they’re some of the largest events in sports. In 2012, the U.S. Open tennis tournament website experienced more than 45.6 million visits. The 2013 Masters golf tournament also experienced high-volume traffic while offering golf aficionados multiple ways to digitally experience the event, including tablet apps, streaming video, mobile access and more.

“What we try to do is show IBM clients, in many different ways, that these aren’t tennis or golf solutions; these are true business solutions. Companies can see the correlation between the scenarios that play themselves out at these events and their own real-world business scenarios,” Singer explains. “These spikes in website traffic are unpredictable.”

According to Singer, many factors drive traffic—especially in sports. Many of these are out of IBM’s control, such as celebrity personalities, good weather or bad weather. “We had, at one point, six concurrent streams of video from all over the golf course available to digital platforms. If Tiger Woods or Phil Mickelson or any of those guys that everyone’s familiar with are playing at that one time, we’ll see a tremendous spike in traffic and, technologically, we need to be able to handle those unpredictable bursts of Web traffic,” Singer says.

Power at the Heart

IBM Power Systems* servers running AIX* and Linux* are at the heart of the technological infrastructure capable of handling intense website traffic and adeptly serving up live scores, live video and the latest news to fans. During the Masters, IBM deployed data analytics, cloud technology and Power Systems LPAR capabilities to deliver a reliable and redundant solution for its client, and a responsive, customized and immersive experience for fans.

“Power Systems technology plays a very important role in our technology solution because, in the end, while software design, applications and features are important, we really do understand and believe—and our clients believe—in the importance of infrastructure,” Singer says. “We moved to Power* technology when it was first introduced and we continue to upgrade it. It really has played a critically important role for us in terms of performance, reliability and virtualization, including our private cloud that helped to enable continuous operations—these are all things that are critical to Power and to our clients. We’ve become a very good example for Power Systems clients.”

Doug Rock is publisher of IBM Systems Magazine. Doug can be reached at



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