As the first serve rocketed across the net at this week's U.S. Open tennis tournament Monday, millions of Internet users tracked the scores as if they were seated courtside.
The powerful eServer i5, IBM's next-generation iSeries server, is providing real-time technology updates to the U.S. Open Web page, allowing fans to keep track of every backhand returned.
An i5 Model 520 running Linux powers the scoring system, handles staging for the Web site, as well as the Web site publisher. This enables fans to get tournament information quickly and accurately.
A major sponsor of the event since 1992, this is the ninth consecutive year that IBM technology has helped power the U.S. Open, held in Flushing, N.Y. But this is the first time the U.S.Tennis Association (USTA), which organizes the event, has run applications on an iSeries, said Craig Johnson, iSeries product marketing manager.
It is the first-ever pairing of Linux and the i5 (Linux was just made available on the i5 on Aug. 30.) However, Linux is a veteran of the U.S. Open. The applications, which were written by IBM's Global Services group using DB2, WebSphere, and WebSphere Portal, were already running under Linux, said Johnson. It's one of the reasons the i5 was chosen to work this part of the Web site operation.
Among the i5's selling points was its ability to run multiple applications, as well as multiple operating systems, specifically Linux.
"If we didn't run Linux, we couldn't support their [USTA] applications requirements," Johnson said.
As the scores come in, they're recorded in the i5, consolidated, then sent out to the hundreds of Web servers hosting the site around the world.
One i5 server is running with two Linux partitions—the scoring app in one, the staging app in another. An xSeries running the content management apps is attached to the i5. The i5/OS is providing the centralized management for the project.
The U.S. Open is the highest annually attended sporting event in the world with more than 620,000 fans. Over 77 million viewers watched the 2003 U.S. Open in the United States on CBS Sports and USA Network and international broadcasts reached 165 countries.
Last year, an estimated 2.4 million fans visited the tournament's official web site (usopen.org) which resulted in 15 million hits—over a two-week period.
Jon Panker and Ellen O'Brien contributed to this story.
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