While Formula One cars raced around the track this weekend in Austin, Tex., NTT Communications was working behind the scenes to support the networking and data analytics that enable the McLaren Honda team to gain rapid insights on the operation of its vehicle.
McLaren Honda has been working with NTT Communications announced a three-year technology partnership in mid-2016, and McLaren Honda implemented NTT Communications’ software-defined networking solutions for the first time in a track-side network earlier this month in the Japanese Grand Prix. Formula One teams have some of the same IT challenges as other mid-sized businesses, according to Chris Davis, senior marketing for NTT Communications, but others that are unique: their venues change from week to week, they have to be able to operate from any track in the world; and they need to quickly and securely move large amounts of data from its source into analysis and rapidly return with insights that can be immediately applied to improve vehicle performance.
“The key objective is to find ways to go around the track faster — and in the Formula One world, you’re talking a fraction of a second can make all the difference in the world, the difference between first place and 10th place,” he said. “Anything they can do to save time and make performance gains is worth trying.”
To figure out how to improve vehicle performance, McLaren relies on a network of more than 200 sensors on the car, and computer systems that generate around 100 gigabytes of data in a weekend of qualification and racing, Davis said. Some of that data is wirelessly transmitted from the vehicle to the team, some of it resides on systems that transfer large amounts of data once the car returns the garage. McLaren Honda is using NTT Communications’ enterprise cloud, cloud management platform and business networks solutions in order to support its private network needs at the track. The network environment at tracks complicated by the fact that there are multiple wireless network types and technologies supporting fans and teams, and a slow connection will hamper a team’s ability to transfer and receive data for analysis.
“We’re moving massive amounts of data, and they don’t want to wait for 100 gigs to upload over a very slow link,” Davis said.
While this is a relatively small unit of NTT’s overall operations and the company is best known as a service provider in Japan, Davis said, “it’s been very fast-growing. … The IT services to enterprises is out core business outside of Japan.”
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