Have data centre, will travel
Taking technology to the road for the next stage of cycling transformation
Taking digital technology to the road to capture data from cyclists in a live racing environment has been one of the most exciting developments in my career. Before last year, building a truck up from an empty shell into a state-of-the-art analytics platform wasn’t something Dimension Data had ever done before, but now we’re the world’s most travelled mobile data centres.
Life on the road – and in the technical zones of some of the largest world-class cycling events – has opened up a world of possibilities for both technology and high-performance sport.
We’re on the cusp of a data analytics revolution, not just in cycling but in many other sports. There’s so much data that can be taken from live events that hasn’t been explored before – and we’re fast reaching the potential of technology to help us capture that data and unlock its value for media, fans, and sporting teams.
We’ve learned a lot since we made the bold decision to put a data centre on wheels. It’s been an ongoing journey for Dimension Data as we evolve our data analytics solutions. In the recent Berlin six-day track race and the Cadel Evans Great Oceans Road Race, for example, we weren’t only capturing positioning but also speed, cadence, and the heart rate of each rider and feeding that onto live TV.
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As the solution rapidly evolves, there’ve been many gains along the way. We’re at a point now where we can operate in a much leaner manner. What’s great for us on the ground is that EMC data centre technology is set to power this evolution.
This year we’re bringing in a set of VCE VxRails into our mobile data centre for redundancy. These are EMC’s new hyper-converged, fully automated, and self-configured virtualised appliances. They’re easy to use and simple to set up, but the best thing about the VxRail is its size – it takes up a lot less space! We can now operate with only half a rack – which makes our hardware more stable and removes risk in the stack when in transit.
With this solution we’ve reduced complexity in our network, and our compute and storage, with the aim of being a lot more operationally efficient, given the space limitations inside the truck. Our set-up and shut-down process at the start and end of a race can be reduced by 20-minutes at each end, which could save the good part of an hour every day.
With greater efficiency and less complexity, and as we automate more elements of the solution, we give greater focus on bringing more developments, insights, and value to the races – where it belongs.
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Dimension Data and EMC simplify the transtition to hybrid IT
While the Dimension Data cloud platform is a core and fundamental element of our solution for cycling, we’re delivering on our hybrid IT requirement by using VxRails for hyper- converged on-premise real-time analysis of data with the benefit of its 100% availability.
We’re only scratching the surface with the kind of data we can capture in professional cycling. As technology evolves to be able to send large amounts of data from a large group of riders, we’ll be able to do deeper analysis – from learning where the stresses and strains are on a bike, to how a rider’s position on the bike can improve performance. When we can start collecting more data from more elements, it will fundamentally change sport – from the way riders train to how fans consume these events.
Once a race starts, working from a big data truck is intense – the pace is at full tilt and never lets up. And to be honest, I wouldn’t want it any other way.
Watch how we’re taking technology to the road to digitise the next stage of cycling transformation