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NHL And Sun Get Ready For Draft Weekend

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, 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.

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