RealTime IT News

Big Green Takes Center Court at U.S. Open

U.S. Open and IBM Websphere
NEW YORK -- This week marked the commencement of the U.S. Open, and those here in the New York area not exhausted by Olympimania have two weeks of top-notch tennis to look forward to.

Yes, we're already seeing great things from perennial heroes like four-time U.S. Open champion Roger Federer, and Rafael Nadal, fresh off ascending to No. 1 in the world and taking Olympic gold in Beijing for Men's Singles.

And, naturally, we'll be staying tuned to see whether Venus and Serena Williams will face off in the quarter finals, as seems likely -- and, of course, which of the two sibling powerhouses (themselves also recently minted gold-medal winners in the Olympics) will emerge victorious from the duel.

But as with every year, the event's tireless organizer -- the United States Tennis Association (USTA) -- is working behind the scenes (and below Arthur Ashe Stadium here at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center) with another group of notables to make sure the above-ground action goes according to plan. Once again, IBM is one of the key sponsors the USTA has tapped for the effort.

And as it has for the past 17 years, Big Blue is flexing its technological might to enable much of what makes the U.S. Open happen on and off the court.

U.S. Open and IBM servers
Behind the scenes with IBM at the U.S. Open. Click to enlarge.

Yes, you read that right: Big Blue has been a sponsor of the Open for 17 years. True, most sponsorships are chiefly about cash being handed over in return a lot of signage and promotion -- including giveaways like branded handheld fans and Evian water spray bottles, both of which are musts for the often-stifling days here in Flushing, Queens.

Still, there's plenty of opportunity for the companies involved to do more than simply ride the coattails of a major sporting event with copious signage. IBM, in particular, takes both aspects of the job very seriously, using the sponsorship not just as a promotional outlet but also as a message in its own right.

With 17 years under its belt, what's new about IBM's participation in the tournament this year? In large part, what's new is positioning -- specifically, "green" positioning.

From Big Blue to Big Green

IBM has always used the event as a showcase of some of the "best-of" technology in its arsenal -- tying in its enabling technology with the hot trends in business and communications at the time.

At the start of its work with the Open and the USTA, IBM provided the technology underlying scoring, scoreboards and transmitting scoring data. When the dot-com boom hit, IBM was there powering the Open's Web presence.

As Linux and open systems took off, IBM was there providing those technologies, as well. And in more recent years, IBM's been driving a move toward virtualized datacenters to aggregate, organize and distribute the vast video, scoring and player data the Open produces daily.

Virtualization's certainly still a key focus of what IBM's doing here at the Open. But thanks to IBM's multibillion-dollar Big Green push toward energy-efficient operations, products and services, the technology's taking on another role: leading the charge for the energy-efficient datacenter, and by extension, the cost-efficient business.

Next page: Green products, green message