We told you last week about some of the cool tech that's in use at the Australian Open. One of the most impressive uses of technology is one that's less evident to people using the site: the use of cloud computing systems to ensure the Australian Open web site can cope with large visitor surges during the event.
IBM site manager Dave Provan explained that while the australianopen.com site is expected to attract more than 10 million visitors, a huge cluster of those will visit during January while the event is on. For the rest of the year, activity is much lower. In earlier years, servers have had to be deployed to cope with that expected peak demand, but that isn't necessary thanks to the intelligent use of cloud systems. "Our usage pattern is very, very bursty," Provan said. "We had to buy hardware to handle the peaks in the past, but cloud allows us to provision against what we need when we need it. We're only paying for what we use"
As well as ensuring that visitors can access the site, cloud-based systems make it easy for Tennis Australia officials to update score data — typically more than 120,000 separate pieces of information a day are uploaded during early rounds, since every point represents an individual piece of data.
Even with those systems in place, careful site design is essential, Provan said. "The big thing is page weight. There's this thing called the Pacific Ocean in the way when delivering the site overseas. The core thing is getting fans scores and information as quickly as possible."
We'll be looking at the role of cloud in much more depth in our upcoming TechLines live video panel.