How cloud technology is changing the world of sports

    At first glance, sports and IT are far from each other, as far as this can be imagined (not counting e-sports , of course). But today, in particular, cloud technologies penetrate into all spheres of our life, and now they have already become an integral part of major sporting events.

    From year to year, their organizers pay attention to improving the quality of service for athletes and spectators, and the processing of large amounts of data becomes the number one task.

    How is this possible and what technologies are changing the world of sports? Let's try to figure it out. / The Flickr / Surian Soosay / CC

    New opportunities for fans

    One of the main components of sports is interaction with spectators, and today communication with fans is reaching a new level thanks in large part to the cloud. For example, in 2016 at Wimbledon, a cognitive cloud system was launched that analyzes thousands of user messages on social networks to determine their emotions. The service delivers relevant information to the audience based on their interests in order to create the impression of a personal presence at a sporting event.

    But still, the main link between the sporting event and most of the spectators remains the video format. And thanks to the use of DVR technology in broadcasts, fans can watch broadcasts or individual moments of the game anywhere and anytime.

    Rights holders of sports broadcastsNow they are processed using real-time cloud services.

    The Olympic Broadcasting Service went even further: for the first time, the opening and closing ceremonies of the Games, as well as other significant events, were broadcast in virtual reality mode. In total, 85 hours of panoramic video were created, which were available for viewing on the Samsung Gear VR headset through a special section of the NBC Sports application.

    New technologies did not pass by those who are physically present at the events. For example, at the Games in Rio de Janeiro this year, a GPS sensor was attached to each canoe and kayak participating in the competition, transmittingaccurate information about the speed and direction of the boat. And on the big screen, the fans observed differences between the tactics of the teams, and, for example, saw the reasons for the change in speed.

    Technology for Athletes

    To analyze the progress of cyclists, there are also special technologies. American athletes see their performance during real-time training with Solos augmented reality glasses. Information about the power, speed and cadence is collected by sensors and transmitted directly to the glasses through the IBM cloud platform. Therefore, during training on the track, cyclists see their performance without being distracted from the road.

    Swimmers were able to concentrate on the victory, and not on the calculations during the Games: thanks to the installed digital meters. The sensors were located under water near the pivot point. When touching the side, the sensor registered that the athlete swam one section. This system was first used at the World Swimming Championships in Kazan last year.

    The help of trainers in developing strategies in boxing is provided by the company of American boxer Tommy Duquette, Hykso: it collects data using a sensor that allows you to track the movement of a boxer's hands in 3D at a frequency of a thousand times per second. With it, you can track the number, types and speed of strikes. Sensors are mounted on the boxer's hands under bandages and contain two independent accelerometers, as well as a gyroscope.

    Sensors provide training reports: athletes analyze their progress and how they strike. This technology was used by the trainer Billy Walsh, who revealed the formula for success: the smaller the interval between attacks, the more chances to win.

    In addition, modern technologies make it possible to more accurately determine the winner in some sports: volleyball teams used video recordings of episodes in disagreement with the judge’s decision. At the same time, the replays, on the basis of which the second referee reviewed the decision, were broadcast on large screens at the stadium.

    Technology has affected a sport like archery. Paper targets have undergone modifications and now contain high-tech sensors. After hitting the target, the result is transmitted on the big screen. The system has high accuracy, inaccessible to the human eye - the error is up to 0.2 mm.

    Health Watch Cloud

    However, participants in the Olympic Games were able to evaluate cloud technology from another, even more important, side. The greatest fear of every athlete is to get an injury that will erase years of hard work. What does the cloud have to do with it? Despite the fact that it helped to reduce the number of injuries: at the 2016 Olympics, the cloud technology GE Healthcare Centricity Practice Solutions (CPS) was used as official electronic medical data (EMR). Uploading data to the cloud eliminates the need to send piles of papers around the world to track athletes' health.

    EMR system for adapting training modes tracks1000 parameters of each athlete, conducts retrospective analytics, makes forecasts of changes in the condition of athletes and offers appropriate solutions. Using EMR, for example, allowed doctors to reduce the incidence of anemia among athletes. Using blood tests, doctors can monitor hemoglobin levels and other laboratory test results, and then observe how a particular nutritional program affects the amount of hemoglobin in the blood.

    In addition to preventing injuries and diseases, the system is indispensable in helping injured athletes and affects the speed and quality of decisions. For example, at the Paralympic Winter Games in Sochi, one skier with a spinal injury broke his hip, and the bruise of the lungs was so strong that the victim could not speak and could hardly breathe.

    “But I managed to access his medical data from a smartphone, and I found out that the patient was allergic to certain drugs, and this should be taken into account when choosing a treatment, in addition, I received information about the anticoagulants that he already took, says Dr. Moreau. “The availability of such data is critical to effective patient care.”

    The US team successfully applied this technology at the 2012 Olympic Games in London and at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. The system used allowed us to improve the medical diagnostics of athletes in these competitions, as well as to create an array of data of impressive size, which helped the team's coaches to develop strategies for improving sports results.

    And using the capabilities of the cloud computing platform Predix will allow sports professionals from all over the world to collaborate, exchanging data, deeper study the effectiveness of sports nutrition and prevent injuries.

    Total savings

    The Olympic Games are a very large and large-scale event, comparable to an iceberg: in addition to the top, which viewers see in the stands or on television, there is a huge hidden underwater part of the preparation and organization of the Games. And information technology plays a significant role there. For example, for the first time, the cloud system was used at the Rio Olympics, which processed more than 300 thousand accounts of journalists, diplomatic delegations and volunteers and managed inspections of the police and the migration service.

    It was impossible to prevent interruptions in work, therefore fault tolerance ensured the availability of two data centers. Games business process management was performed using the IaaS cloud, which allowedreduce the number of physical servers from 1000 to 250. It’s not just about reducing costs: Atos, the official IT partner of the Olympic Games, takes care of the environment, reducing CO2 emissions and saving energy.

    The cloud also saved on testing: this year 200,000 hours of testing were completed in Rio, including two full technical rehearsals based on cloud services. And at the final technical rehearsal, 500 scenarios were performed, including the procedure for floods, power outages, network problems, and so on. Thanks to the cloud, it was not necessary to create a physical IT testing laboratory. In addition, the use of cloud technology has reduced the cost of the Olympics, which this year amounted to $ 1.5 billion.

    Formula 1 participants also appreciated the benefits of cloud technologies: the Swiss team Sauber F1 actively uses FlexPod solutions for data centers and NetApp MetroCluster software. IT is becoming a competitive advantage, allowing Sauber F1 to compete successfully with the larger and more famous teams of Ferrari, Mercedes and McLaren.

    A team from Switzerland uses NetApp MetroCluster solutions (read more in the sourceMetroCluster components section) for their corporate systems, using two data centers to create repositories. The infrastructure itself is already 90% virtualized (about 55 virtual machines are deployed on five VMware ESX servers), in addition, the company plans to replace 80 outdated physical workstations with 100 virtual workstations.

    Sauber F1 notes that MetroCluster effectively ensures uninterrupted operation by synchronously recording data to both data centers. Therefore, if a malfunction occurs in one of the data centers, automatic switching to the second data center is performed in a few seconds, which avoids data loss.

    SATA drives manage to reducecost without sacrificing speed. On a virtual server, deduplication is used in conjunction with the NetApp Flash Cache intelligent caching, which allows you to increase productivity by three times. The deduplication process includes 40 virtual machines, one of which is read from disk. The remaining 39 are loaded from the cache to increase response time, this is especially true during major updates.

    Saving space on workstations, therefore, is from 8 to 10 GB. In addition, due to deduplication, scaling is performed efficiently. Transferring a virtual server and client environment to FlexPod even reduced transportation costs by reducing the total weight of equipment by 50% (read about this here in the section "High performance + reduced costs").

    Today, sport is not just a competition, a meeting of rivals or an attempt to become the best. While athletes are preparing for new records, somewhere behind the scenes of any sporting event, an army of technical specialists is working, setting new standards in the application of technologies, whether IaaS, SaaS or something else.

    Every few years, technological solutions reach a new level, which fundamentally changes the experience of all participants in sporting events, from the fans and the athletes themselves, to the trainer and medical staff.

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