RealTime IT News

Sun's Winning Pitch for Baseball

Sun Microsystems will announce a two-year, $25 million contract extension Tuesday with Major League Baseball's online arm that includes data center hardware, software and services.

The Santa Clara, Calif., systems vendor and Major League Baseball Advanced Media (MLBAM) have worked together since 2000. In that time, MLBAM's media-rich main Web site has enjoyed a surge in traffic as more fans upgrade to broadband connections.

MLB.com supports data- and bandwidth-intensive features, delivering as many as 10 live games daily and more than 5,000 audio streamed games each year, making MLBAM the largest online live event producer in the world.

To respond, MLBAM has built a second data center using Sun servers and storage devices. The firm plans to build a third Sun-powered data center in 2005.

The systems will be built on Sun's Digital Asset Management Reference Architecture, a framework developed in collaboration with Boston public television station WGBH.

The architecture provides specifications to build and deploy a complete content management infrastructure that easily integrates with existing IT and broadcast components to deliver real-time content.

"It's exciting for us to be involved in baseball because it's a real test," Hal Stern, CTO of Sun Services, told internetnews.com. "When there's an issue with the site, several million critics that will let you know."

Stern said the Sun hopes to highlight the project to other companies as an example of the company's ability to handle high data and bandwidth demands. Sun has similar agreements with the National Hockey League and McClaren, an F1 auto racing team.

Bob Bowman, CEO of MLBAM, said the company was looking for a strategic technology partner to help it deliver the highest level of performance, scalability and reliability to handle the real-time demands of the site's more than 650 million visitors worldwide.

For New York-based MLBAM, the deal comes a week after it expanded its distribution network, inking lucrative agreements with Microsoft and America Online .

MLBAM is also reportedly mulling a public offering for a minority stake in the company. According to The New York Times, the move could raise several hundred million dollars for the league and has implications for the broader Internet content market.

MLBAM had received valuation estimates of more than $1 billion from bankers, unnamed sources told the newspaper.