Private Cloud Fuels Formula One Racing Dynasty

By Michael Vizard

When the Infiniti Red Bull Formula One racing team won the United States Grand Prix this year, the team’s CIO was a member of the delegation that strode onto the podium to accept the trophy.

Leveraging a private cloud based on multiple clusters of servers running IBM Platform Computing software to manage a battery of analytics applications has enabled the Infiniti Red Bull team to dominate the sport and win the last four consecutive Formula One championships, starting in 2010.

While there’s no doubt the lion’s share of the credit for winning those championship races goes to the engineers that build the car and the drivers that race them, Infiniti Red Bull CIO Matt Cadieux says none of that success would be possible without the 3D simulations that racing team runs at the company’s data centers in Buckinghamshire, England.

Environmental Concerns Prompt New Rules

The Infiniti Red Bull team’s simulation applications are being put to the test this year because many of the Formula One racing rules have been changed to reflect environmental concerns, Cadieux says. The shift from V8 to V6 engines in particular has Infiniti Red Bull engineers pouring over new simulations.

“It’ll be a demanding, fun year,” says Cadieux. “Formula One racing is going green with the times.”

So far this season, the results from initial trials for the Infiniti Red Bull 2014 entrant were disconcerting and more recently one of the Red Bull drivers was disqualified from the Australian Grand Prix for violating new rules concerning fuel usage, which is necessitating more testing on and off the track.

To provide its engineers with access to more computing resources, Cadieux says Infiniti Red Bull is evaluating a new cloud service based on IBM Platform Computing software. Today, Infiniti Red Bull runs about 20 simulation applications on IBM Platform Computing software, running on a mix of heterogeneous servers.

Cadieux says Infiniti Red Bull relies on the IBM Platform Computing software to optimize the computing resources needed to run everything from complex fluid dynamics simulations to processing data generated by the 107 telemetry sensors that Infiniti Red Bull embeds into its racing cars. That information is used for everything from altering the team’s pit stop strategy in real-time based on the conditions of the track to performing what-if modeling scenarios that determine the probable outcome of a race if certain types of conditions prevail or events occur.

Obviously, Infiniti Red Bull is not the only Formula One racing team investing in advanced IT. McLaren, for example, has aligned with SAP to take advantage of the SAP in-memory computing platform. But after investing $1.2 billion on the the Infiniti Red Bull racing team, it’s pretty clear that how you leverage IT to win the race is still more important than the technologies used to drive it.

About the Author

Michael Vizard is a contributing writer for CIO Insight. To read his previous CIO Insight article, “The Race for the Software-Defined Data Center,” click here

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