International Rugby Board Converts to MJ Flood Technology

Refreshed virtualised server and storage infrastructure provides continuous, uninterrupted operations for Rugby World Cup. Record global TV audiences ensured the recent Rugby World Cup (RWC) was another triumph for the International Rugby Board (IRB).  The provision of continuous, uninterrupted IT services to support this global rugby fest, comprising 20 teams playing 48 matches over a six-week period, was instrumental in that success.

Thanks to a refreshed virtualised and storage infrastructure designed and deployed by MJ Flood Technology, the IRB can provide resilient, scalable and flexible IT services, which specifically cater for the unique requirements of this global sporting organisation.
“The Dublin network was a critical component in the flow of data to our website in terms of statistics and results,” explains John Corbett, IT manager with the IRB.  “The network was very busy during the Rugby World Cup and had to cater for additional staff on the ground in New Zealand, months before the tournament even started.  Thankfully, we had very few teething problems with the solution and the migration was seamless.  Everything was stable and worked as expected.”

Mission Critical Network
The IRB had looked at the possibility of virtualisation over the years. With 14 servers, it was a technology, which was always going to deliver real benefits to the organisation.  However, with a demanding project pipeline, the lull in business activity before the RWC offered the perfect opportunity to upgrade the infrastructure.

“In any World Cup year, we would always have to increase our infrastructure to support temporary file storage or temporary mailboxes for additional staff,” according to Corbett.  “The mailbox count alone was up by over 50 per cent and these accounts were typically used by website editorial staff to exchange rich content of video and audio files.”

The IRB’s mission-critical application is a data feed which provides statistics and results.  The statistical feed gathers data from multiple sources, packages it into XML files and pushes it across the network from Dublin to various sources including the IRB website and other agencies, who have paid to take the service on a per tournament basis.  Resiliency and maximum uptime, therefore were critical for the continuous and uninterrupted flow of tournament-related information around the world.

“Given the experience and tender review sessions we had with a number of technical specialists in MJ Flood Technology, we felt they were the best fit to do the job for us.”

John Corbett, IT manager with the IRB.

A Resilient and Practical Solution

“We recommended an HP technology platform as we felt it offered the best price-performance solution for the IRB’s unique requirements,” according to David Flood, senior IT solutions consultant with MJ Flood Technology.  “Computing needs are handled by 2 x HP DL380 G7 servers running VMware for virtualisation and provide the high speed, high performance required by the IRB for their mission-critical traffic.  An HP P2000 iSCSI SAN array coupled with HP switching technology forms the core of the network and delivers the scalability and resilience which underpins the network design,” he adds.

Virtualisation allowed the IRB to reduce the number of servers from 14 to two, delivering a host of benefits to the sporting organisation.  “Firstly, we have cut down on the amount of physical space used in our computer room,” says John Corbett.  “Secondly, we’ve significantly reduced our server power consumption with more redundancy that we ever had with physical boxes.  Finally, we can also fire up new servers for testing systems and applications and that’s much easier to do on a virtualised system rather than configuring physical boxes,” he adds.

Match Analysis and Statistical Deep Dive

In parallel to the primary SAN array for “live” production data, the IRB also had a specific requirement for cheaper storage, which would accommodate their video analysis files.  An HP MSA 2000 chassis with 5 x 2 TB SATA drives provided the ideal solution as Corbett explains.  “This system stores an archive of all IRB matches, allowing our Game Analysis Unit to access video files and use their game analysis software to provide granular detail on each match.

In choosing an IT service provider, the IRB went out to tender and originally considered proposals from four organisations to complete the project.  “Given our experience and tender review sessions with a number of technical specialists in MJ Flood Technology, we felt they were the best fit to do the job for us,” explains Corbett.   “Their technical expertise was solid and the team made us very comfortable that they could deliver the solution for us, within the aggressive timescales required by the project.”

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