by Nadia Cameron

Tennis Australia’s new CIO sets his sights on hybrid cloud

Jan 21, 2016
Technology Industry

Re-evaluating Tennis Australia’s cloud strategy and taking a hybrid approach to applications and IT infrastructure is top of the list for the organisation’s new CIO.

Speaking to CIO during the opening day of the 2016 Australian Open in Melbourne, Primoz Trcek pointed out this year’s tournament is the first to fully leverage IBM’s SoftLayer cloud environmentfor digital platforms and customer services. It’s a situation that opens up a wide array of opportunities to further capitalise on cloud, he said.

“The security and cloud provisioning [in SoftLayer] is very interesting for us and there are lots of things we can do, such as content sharing with partners using the SoftLayer application centres, and other programs and ideas we can look into,” he said.

“Potentially, disaster recovery and business continuity could be leveraged off it. With DR, we’ll move that eventually and look at SoftLayer as one of those platforms.”

Tennis Australia is also considering running its event management system in the cloud.

“Right now, the event management system is on thick clients with an IBM ad back-end database. We’re looking at whether we can make that Web-enabled and bring it into the cloud platform,” Trcek said.

To make this sort of shift happen, Trcek plans to revisit and re-evaluate Tennis Australia’s cloud strategy, developed about eight months ago, in partnership with the senior leadership team.

“When we look at legacy applications, for instance, that need to be moved or are ready for cloud, there is some low-hanging fruit,” he said. As an example, Trcek said the not-for-profit already implemented the Office 365 productivity suite to about 60 people in mid-2015.

“We’re also going to look at hyperscale or enterprise cloud, and it’s looking like we’ll take a hybrid approach to cloud,” he said.

Trcek took over the IT leadership reins at Tennis Australia in November, replacing high-profile CIO, Samir Mahir, who quit after four years in the role. Trcek has been with the organisation since August 2011, managing IT infrastructure and data delivery. Prior to that, he spent nine years as IT infrastructure manager at speciality fashion retailer, Country Road.

With a wider array of data sets increasingly being accessed and analysed by Tennis Australia to deliver better operational efficiencies, customer services and fan engagement, Trcek agreed the ongoing question of data ownership, responsibility and utilisation is an interesting one.

It’s a good question – where does responsibility for data lie? Who owns the data? We are still going through that,” he commented. “IT should be custodians of the data, and if it is stored in the cloud, you need IT professionals, security experts and analysts overseeing that.

“My opinion with the Internet of Things, is that security is one of the most important aspects you need to cover off. It pushes the whole security question out to the perimeter.”

Several projects launched by Mahir taking advantage of advanced data analytics are ongoing under Trcek’s leadership, and he’s hoping to reap some rewards from one or two this year. One example is the organisation’s MyTennis online-based, membership offering for customers, which includes players, coaches and members.

“We hope to realise some of the benefits from that project in March,” he said.

More widely, Trcek expects another 2016 emphasis will be implementing new processes and policies. Tennis Australia has nearly doubled in size in recent years, and not only manages legacy events in Brisbane, Hobart and Sydney, but also the World Tennis Challenge in Adelaide, the Asian Wildcard Playoff, and Davis Cup and Fed Cup matches.

“All kinds of roles have been brought on, and IT plays a big part in those events, particularly from a scoring perspective,” Trcek said. “For example, we manage the LED screens outside and what goes through those, plus the scoring feed that goes through to the Web and digital teams.

“I want to look and see what needs to be addressed, look closely at our business strategy and align with those priorities.”