By Jessica Carroll, Managing Director, Information & Digital Technologies, USGA
A nimble, dynamic infrastructure, with round-the-clock support, and an environment where you can deliver on your customer’s needs faster. This is what the smart CIO wants. The cloud promises all of these advantages (and more), but does it come through on the promise?
At the USGA we’re a case study in action. As a non-profit organization, our focus is not on technology or sales. It is on serving the game of golf and the growing universe of people who play the game or want to learn more about it. The cloud enables us to support this mission by focusing technology on these growth areas, rather than legacy IT utility services.
There’s no better place to see this than on usopen.com, the USGA’s online destination for the U.S. Open, golf’s national championship. With over 6 million visitors, over 83 million pageviews, and 1.3 million video streams across all platforms in one week alone, the infrastructure to serve up a high performing website is a brilliant case for using the elastic cloud. As we consider the hardware, bandwidth and manpower required to support this volume for one week of the year it’s obvious that the investment needed could not possibly make long-term sense for us.
Roll in the cloud. The USGA has partnered with IBM to provide a scalable cloud hosted solution that can flex with our growing digital offerings and our growing online fans. Problem solved.
Beyond usopen.com, we have embraced cloud thinking in many areas, including disaster recovery.
The cloud helped us step up our game regarding business resilience in ways we simply could not have considered previously. Years ago disaster recovery solutions, such as mirrored data centers, were outside of our reach and we settled on traditional tape backup rotations off-site. With today’s dependency on real time access to information we knew we had to rethink our disaster recovery strategy. The cloud made this transition easy. IBM’s SmartCloud afforded us a means to backup up mission critical data nightly off-site, with minimal infrastructure and support on our part.
Often discussion about the cloud lands on loss of control by IT, but that truly misses the big picture. The key is to choose cloud environments and cloud vendors you know you can trust. The customer service and reliability of your vendor is equally as important as the hardware any vendor’s sales team will extol. It’s critical to remember that wherever your systems live, they are still your systems. Wherever your data resides, the responsibility of that data is still yours. While not every application may present the right case for the cloud, at the USGA we have found the right balance by carefully placing the right systems with the right vendors to give us the service we require.
Whether we’re serving up a first-class online experience of the U.S. Open to our fans or we’re providing resilience for our data, the USGA has turned to cloud technology as a way to provide agile solutions to support the business.