Cloud Computing Champions Wimbledon Tennis Tournament

Cloud Computing Champions Wimbledon Tennis Tournament

The All England Lawn Tennis Club serves as host to the Wimbledon Tennis Championships, considered by many as third only to the Olympics and World Cup in terms of athletic prestige. Celebrities, dignitaries, and luminaries in myriad disciplines annually frequent the event; their presence indicates the massive respect and worldwide popularity that Wimbledon attracts. Such high regard has naturally spilled over into the World Wide Web and produces a once-yearly Internet sensation. But the watchword here is “once-yearly.”

Outside of the two weeks of Wimbledon championship action, in late June and early July, the eponymous website may receive at most half a million unique visits. Yet that figure skyrocketed to 50 million hits during the 2011 Wimbledon fortnight, a potentially frightening growth in demand on a website that insiders refer to as spikiness.

Indeed, the Wimbledon tennis competition easily qualifies as a textbook case study in how to manage a spiky uptick in demand for trustworthy storage and power in computing. Though every website covets massive traffic, too much of it can drown servers and send inexperienced IT staff heading for the hills. Yet spikiness can also generate revenue and increased visibility when properly channeled.

Enter cloud computing to save the day and protect websites from sudden surges in demand. Cloud’s scalability can equip a website with servers, bandwidth, and storage space to accommodate rapid growth or dearth in attention from visitors. This additional computing power can be purchased a la carte, allowing cloud users to attain only the extra space that they need, without wasting resources on unused storage.

To capitalize on spikiness, and to not be capsized by it, Wimbledon enlisted IBM’s SmartCloud technology. The BBC reports that the servers powering Wimbledon’s own sizable piece of the cloud in fact reside stateside, in North Carolina.

Though Wimbledon’s impressive needs for cloud space will likely consume the majority of the servers’ capacity during the two-week tournament, the All England Lawn Tennis Club can actually relinquish that power, at the tournament’s conclusion, for use by other Events with a Capital E, such as the U.S. Open.

Managing IBM SmartCloud’s use at this year’s Wimbledon are program executives Doug Clark and Alan Flack. These experts have also spearheaded a new initiative for Wimbledon’s web presence this year — a sister channel for the main site, Live @ Wimbledon, consecrated to provide online fans with direct video footage and real-time score tracking from the hottest matches of any given competition day.

As the cloud is now revealing its aptitude for the star-studded tennis championship steeped in history, we can expect a more dynamic relationship between the computing revolution and major competitive contests in the future. Olympics, anyone?

By Jeff Norman

Jeff Norman

Jeff Norman is a freelance writer currently based in New York City. He's moved into writing about cloud computing from substantial work in culture and the arts. He earned his undergraduate degree in English at Stanford and has studied at Oxford and Cambridge.
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