Data center runs the Boston Marathon

Data center has two database servers, storage arrays, two F5 load balancers, redundant configuration and HP ProCurve network switches (See video, below)

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The BAA sent text message alerts at four points during the race: 10 kilometers (6.2 miles), 21 kilometers (13.1 miles), 30 kilometers (18.6 miles) and at the finish line of 42.2 kilometers (26.2 miles.)

Sending 400,000 text messages during the race proved to be a challenge for the BAA on race day. Some people who signed up to receive text message alerts never received them, even though the race Web site confirmed that the runners had crossed the checkpoints. In other cases, texts were significantly delayed, some coming two hours after the check points were crossed. Race officials were not available to comment on whether that was a widespread problem.

Spectators could also track runners on www.baa.org, a site Burgholzer anticipated would get 1.2 million hits on race day, have 120,000 concurrent connections and handle 7,000 database requests per second. He anticipated bandwidth usage around 750m bits per second.

While the IT team had a small workroom a few hundred yards from the finish line in the Fairmont Copley Plaza Hotel, a full data center was 45 minutes west of the city in Marlborough, Massachusetts.

"We have a back-end server. It's a C7000 Blade enclosure and there are about 12 servers in the enclosure," said Kevin Meany with Versatile Communications, one of the companies working with the BAA to provide IT support.

The data center had two database servers, storage arrays, two F5 load balancers, redundant configuration and HP ProCurve network switches, he said.

While all of the attention from Burgholzer and Meany was focused on the marathon Monday, they're already looking toward next year.

In the 5-kilometer race Sunday, the BAA piloted tracking technology that forgoes the shoelace chip in favor of RFID in the runners' bibs. The bibs are the sturdy pieces of paper that display the runners' numbers and are typically pinned on their shirts or shorts. Burgholzer said he thought that marathons in California and Germany had used the bib tracking technology with success.

"If it goes well [during the 5k], we will use it for our half-marathon in the fall and ... our whole goal would be in 2011 to use that for the marathon."

Copyright © 2010 IDG Communications, Inc.

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