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Adopting A Utility Approach

When Annika Sorenstam was preparing to make history in May 2003 as the first woman in 50 years to compete in a PGA Tour tournament, officials saw the tremendous amount of publicity being generated as an opportunity to promote their Web site's newest technology, TourCast.

Launched earlier in the year, TourCast provides golf fans with a a live 2-D virtual representation of PGA Tour events. The $9.95-per-month subscription service lets users see a shot-by-shot representation on a virtualized golf course of individuals participating in a tour event, as well as statistical analysis and a variety of features to enhance the viewing experience.

For TourCast, as well as other features on PGATour.com, to be financially viable, the association needed to find a new kind of IT model, says Steve Evans, VP of information systems for the PGA Tour. He turned to a utility-computing framework that ties operational costs directly to the number of users on the site, as well as the bandwidth used.

PGATour.com was already using a utility-computing-based platform for its ShotLink system, which supplies a live, real-time score card for Internet users and tour personnel, when it outsourced the system two years ago to IBM. Evans envisioned TourCast as a major step beyond ShotLink and knew he needed additional resources and technical capabilities.

"As part of the business model, we needed to tie the cost of operation to the revenue produced by subscriptions," Evans says.

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