IBM Watson Tracks Cloud-based Analytics from the Sidelines of the U.S. Open Tennis Championship

The 2016 U.S. Open Tennis Championship in Queens, New York, attracted more than 700,000 fans onsite and more than 15 million worldwide on a variety of digital platforms. IBM’s partnership with the U.S. Tennis Association was visible around the venues as well as online via pre- and in-match graphics and analytics. IBM was not simply one in a long line of sponsors, though; the tech giant is actually a partner of the USTA. If you were one of the 15 million worldwide fans who tuned in to the action via digital platforms, you may have noticed that the pre-match and in-match graphics and analytics were provided by IBM.

During the matches, IBM collected data from the umpire’s chair, statisticians in the stadium and sensors around the court. In addition to scoring information and player bios, IBM monitored match statistics like winners, aces, faults and radar speed readings for serves. The information was packaged and distributed to viewers around the world in on-screen graphics. Before each match, for example, the TV broadcast featured “Keys to the Match,” which analyzed past performances to help players understand how to best compete against a specific opponent.

For the first time, fans at the U.S. Open were able to take advantage of one of IBM’s most innovative technologies: IBM Watson. Anyone with an iPhone, iPad or Android device could download the USTA’s 2016 US Open Tennis Championships app, which offered live scores, videos, schedule of play, guest info and much more. The app was developed by IBM and powered by Watson, allowing users to take advantage of Watson’s language capabilities. In their natural language, fans could ask the app logistical questions like: “Where are the bathrooms?” and Watson would direct them.

This year, IBM delivered six different digital U.S. Open platforms (mobile sites, apps, etc.) in addition to all of the match analytics and graphics, with the cloud being an essential component of every service provided.

IBM used cloud technologies like Bluemix, which makes it easy to tap into Watson APIs, and SoftLayer, which supports continuous operation, to support the U.S. Open platforms. This cloud service is supported and complemented by physical infrastructure like bare metal servers within a dedicated server environment. Together, the on-site infrastructure, backed by cloud technologies, allowed IBM to deliver richer analytics faster – a capability many companies today want.

A physical, on-site and dedicated hardware environment is exactly what the mainframe brings to the cloud and analytics. Mainframes are built for the high-processing needs of the cloud environment. In last year’s Syncsort and Enterprise Systems Media survey, 69 percent of IT managers ranked the use of the mainframe for large-scale processing as “very important.” Coupled with the flexibility of the cloud, mainframes give businesses the best of all worlds: speed, power and reliability.

In addition, the movement towards public APIs in software development favors mainframes’ role in supporting analytics. APIs serve as the bridge between the modern apps today’s companies are developing, and the mainframes they are invested in using.  

SHARE is a community of mainframe professionals spreading the word about the mainframe’s unique advantages in today’s technological landscape.

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