I was invited by HPE for a behind-the-scenes tour at the Ryder Cup in the weekend of September 30th at Le Golf National just outside Paris.

Allthough golf is not my favorite sports game, I must admit I was surprised by the numbers of the event: the event spans 150 acres (+/- 85 soccer pitches) , 51.000 fans will visit daily the course, being +150.000 fans for the entire event. And approximately 620 million households watching The Ryder Cup on TV each day through 40 worldwide broadcasters. Impressive!

Knowing that 8 years ago it was not even allowed to have a mobile device at the golfcourse (!!!), I was intrigued of how this event could be the biggest showcase on earth (together with the Olympics) for a BYOD deployment.

The biggest surprise for me was the fact that this is just a temporary deployment for just a few days, which makes it even a bigger challenge, besides the complexity of the network itself, 150 acres remember?

 

A day at the golf course

When you arrive at the entrance, you cannot miss this billboard:

    

Once connected (which went fluently) you can install the Ryder Cup app for the most complete user experience.

    

Anywhere you are at any moment in time, you will get the latest details from the ongoing games including live score and live radio broadcast.

 

Behind the scenes

Off course I was there for the real facts, of how HPE Aruba made this happen.

We kicked of the day with an introduction by Ryder Cup CTO Michael Cole about the challenges he and his team are facing for this event. For instance the grandstand build in Paris is the biggest one ever at the Ryder Cup, holding more than 6500 seats. Good luck providing all those fans a good wireless experience. Well I tested it and must admit, it worked!

Quickly we moved to the NOC (Network Operations Center) where we got more details about the infrastructure deployed:

  • +700 Aruba Access points (146 AP’s on the grandstand only)
  • 130 Aruba distribution and edge switches
  • 450 BT beacons
  • 200 asset tags
  • 200 km optical cables
  • 6 servers running VMware
  • 2 datacenters for required 99,9% uptime for the entire event

 

All this is monitored in 2 operation centers, physically spread across the golf area.

While walking around I found myself looking for AP’s. And found some of them…

 

More than just infrastructure

Of course, having this kind of infrastructure gives much more possibilities to the organization of these events.

By using the beacons and asset tags, and the location based services provided by Meridian, gives a lot of data points of players and fans that can be used to optimze their experience…

Some examples are crowd-monitoring, interactive maps with way-finding, context-based marketing activation, inventory management and player tracking, and so on. The data is there, just use it…

All this can be used not only with golf, I see big opportunities as well for sports like Formula 1, soccer, basket, tennis and so on… Large opportunities in front of us!

 

About the Ryder Cup

The Ryder Cup has become one of the world’s greatest sporting events. Every two years, 24 of the best players from Europe and the United States go head-to-head in match play competition, captivating an audience of millions around the world.

Each of the first two days includes one four-match session of four-ball and one four-match session of foursomes. The final day is reserved for 12 singles matches.

Congratulations to team Europe with their monster score victory of 17½ versus 10½ for team USA.

 

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