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Tech at the Tour – stormy weather, but plenty of cloud cover

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With cloud technology and a great team by your side, you’re prepared for anything … even bad weather on the Tour de France 

There are just some days when we’re faced with the undeniable truth that things don’t always go to plan. In the dynamic environment of a major sporting event, even the cornerstones of a great technology solution can be changed … or even blown away by the wind at a moment’s notice! Being agile and flexible enough to handle the situation is key to success. And that’s exactly what the cloud components of our Tour de France data analytics solution allowed us to do on a day that proved challenging on all fronts. 

Roaring wind speeds

Stage 12 of the 2016 Tour de France was the long-anticipated Montpellier to Mont Ventoux stretch of the race with a punishing climb to reach the finish line at the 1912 m summit. But not this year. At 12:34 am on 14 July, the stage route was changed due to a weather forecast that expected 150 km/h+ winds at the endpoint. As a result of changing the route, the technical zone had to be split into two separate areas … with no interconnectivity.

The Tour de France technical zone and the big data truck on a typical day when the weather is good

A split technical zone

 Arriving at the zone, our technical team assessed the situation by asking a few pertinent questions: Is our big data truck there? Are the data providers and data consumers there? Can we connect to the Internet? We soon discovered that some of the central providers and consumers weren’t in the same technical zone as we were, and were 6 km further up the mountain, where the new proposed finish was. We held a strategy meeting and decided to activate our business continuity plan, consisting of three major elements.

1.) Switch-over technical zone integrations. Dimension Data provides data to the international television feed and other press and digital data consumers via local connectivity. These integrations had to be made to the new Internet-based services through changes in application configuration, networking, and Internet connectivity.

2.) Disaster recovery for the big data truck, run in the cloud. We deployed and configured the base big data truck’s build virtual memory system (VMS), and then installed the latest patch versions and algorithms.

3.) Delivering on the service level agreement we promised to Amaury Sport Organisation. By executing the first two elements above, we achieved 100% service availability during race time. 

Hitting the ground running

Our technical team immediately split into teams to make sure the new integrations were set up successfully. We also needed to make sure that the disaster recovery solution in the cloud was operational within the time frame and had to work around challenges like lack of mobile coverage for the technical zone 1 by using collaboration tools such as Skype for Business and WebEx. 

On a typical day, our technical team is hard at work inside the big data truck

With the disaster recovery plan executed, we ran a test to validate everything and get the system on standby, while we waited for the race to begin.

Always have a plan

Having a plan and leveraging the flexibility and on-demand agility of the Dimension Data cloud was essential. But one can also never underestimate the value of a truly dedicated team of experts to execute such a plan when the chips are down. All of this meant that – in spite of the inclement weather - we were still able to deliver race data to fans, professionals and the media around the world. Just another day – if a little windy – in the big data truck.

Watch this video if you want to know more about the cloud component of our Tour de France data analytics solution:

 

Learn more about hybrid cloud

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