NHL And Sun Get Ready For Draft Weekend

The NHL is using Sun's blade-server technology to keep information moving at this weekend's Entry Draft.

February 4, 2003

2 Min Read
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The New Jersey Devils may have skated off with the Stanley Cup in late January, but that doesn't mean the National Hockey League has hung up its skates for the summer. To prepare for early February's 40th annual Entry Draft in Nashville, Tenn., the league is using blade-server technology and Sun Ray desktops to run its version of a mission-critical operation.

The Entry Draft, in which the NHL's 30 teams select North American amateur and European amateur and pro players, involves a flow of data across a network in real time"with millions of dollars at stake with each transaction. The draft will operate on a Lotus Notes-based system. Four of the eight Sun Fire blades will support the nearly 50 Sun Ray clients, with two blades dedicated to running a Lotus Domino server and two more blades on hand for an emergency. Since the Notes client doesn't run on Solaris, the configuration also includes two HP ProLiant servers running Notes and app server software from Citrix Systems Inc. A Sun Netra 1125 server and StorEdge D1000 array provide the network-attached storage.

"Aside from winning the Stanley Cup, these are probably the two most important days in hockey during the year," says Ken Chin, VP of events and entertainment for NHL Enterprises LP.

Since Sun Microsystems chairman and CEO Scott McNealy is an avid hockey buff, a Sun partnership with the National Hockey League would seem natural. But McNealy says he wasn't the one who initiated the deal under which Sun will become the technology partner of the league and the NHL Players Association. "I wasn't the one who decided to get into sports marketing; the sales folks went out and did this," he said at a news conference.

Sun gets exclusive marketing rights at major NHL events, and its servers will power the NHL's Web site. The Sun servers will continuously feed data to NHL.com, linked with a more traditional four-processor Sun server. The league opted for a blade configuration this year to create a more flexible environment that can scale as needed.The NHL and IT have more than a passing acquaintance. The San Jose Sharks' home arena is now known as the HP Pavilion; Hewlett-Packard renamed the former Compaq Center the league's Web site, which also runs on Sun equipment.

This is the second draft that the NHL has used Sun technology. A year ago, the NHL used Sun Ray desktops when it took over the PC maker last year. Software maker Corel Corp. has its name on the home of the Ottawa Senators. And in 2000, former Computer Associates chairman and CEO Charles Wang and current president and CEO Sanjay Kumar became co-owners of the New York Islanders. The Isles, who won four consecutive NHL titles in the early 1980s, have been among the NHL's most improved teams during the past two seasons, making the playoffs both years after missing the postseason for seven consecutive years.

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