IBM Takes the Cloud to the US Open

To help drive home its point that IBM is serious about cloud computing, Big Blue hosted an event at the US Open to show its cloud prowess in action. Cloud computing is a key IBM growth initiative through 2015.

NEW YORK - To help drive home its point that IBM is serious about cloud computing, Big Blue hosted an event at the US Open to show its cloud prowess in action.

IBM has long been a partner of the US Tennis Association (USTA) in handling all the IT operations behind the US Open and other Grand Slam tennis events. At a press event hosted by IBM at the US Open here on Aug. 31, Gordon Smith, the executive director and chief operating officer of the USTA, said, "IBM has been a USTA partner for 18 years. We've got the best technology partner on the planet bar none. We can't even begin to use the capacity IBM has provided us."

And given the elasticity afforded by cloud computing, Smith is right in so many ways, as IBM is bringing its cloud capability to the US Open operation.

Also at the event, Walt Braeger, vice president of cloud computing and Global Technology Services at IBM, laid out IBM's cloud computing strategy and reiterated IBM CEO Sam Palmisano's vision that the cloud will be a significant part of IBM's growth and focus through 2015. In fact, Braeger said IBM expects to see a boost in revenue of about $3 billion from cloud computing and related products and services.

In the case of the US Open, IBM provides a cloud computing capability that allows the USTA to scale up dramatically for the U.S. Open Tennis Tournament. IBM rapidly creates and provisions services on a common infrastructure -- services that are mission-critical to the tennis tournament, Braeger said.

For instance, IBM takes an asset such as real time and historic sports data and leverages it using a common infrastructure to deploy services of all kinds to different consumers -- media organizations, tournament officials, the public, tennis players, etc. -- on different platforms, such as broadcast, Web, iPhone, Twitter and others.

"IBM has also added new services and new devices so that we can deliver these assets every year, all the while managing traffic growth and reducing costs such as energy, floor space and labor," said Jen Knecht French, a spokeswoman for IBM.

Rick Singer, vice president of sports marketing at IBM, said the cloud comes up as a component of IBM's larger Smarter Planet strategy, where IBM is looking to cash in on the emerging "instrumentation" of not only IT infrastructure, but the physical infrastructure of buildings, cities, cars, trains, planes, you name it. The world is becoming smarter and IBM is prepared to step in and tackle all the data being produced as a result of this smarter planet -- as IBM culls data from the myriad devices that instrument infrastructure as well as from the devices that make up everyday consumer technology. Not only is IBM equipped to handle the massive data requirements with its big hardware and storage systems, the company also is set to provide analysis through its predictive analytics technologies.

IBM has spent several billion dollars acquiring new analytics technologies, including $1.2 billion for SPSS and $4.9 billion for Cognos, among other deals. IBM also has acquired cloud computing companies including Cast Iron Systems and Sterling Commerce.

And as evidence of further use of its cloud and Smarter Planet strategy in action, at the US Open IBM culls and analyzes data from the Open radar guns, chair umpire system, court-side statistician (a Think-pad based system) and the broadcast TV feeds, among other things, IBM said.

However, Braeger said IBM has done two things the signaled its seriousness about the cloud. One was appointing a senior executive to oversee cloud computing, and the other was the company began a transformation effort starting inside IBM's own CIO's office.