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Nov 12, 2013

F1 is coming to America

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F1 is coming to AmericaSpeed, noise, colour, emotion… passion… history. Formula 1 isn’t just a sport. To its millions of fans around the world, it is a religion. Played out on a global stage in some of the world’s most glamorous locations, it is the ultimate gladiatorial battle, combining technological precision and excellence with grit, determination and the highest levels of sporting skill and agility seen anywhere on earth. A sport where the slightest mistake can mean not simply the difference between winning and losing, but between life and death. Fast, furious… unforgiving. Formula 1 is the ultimate window into the pinnacle of human endeavor.

It is the most watched sport on earth. Yes, you’ve heard that statistic before. But it is true. Half a billion people tuned in globally to watch the 2012 Formula 1 season unfold. Half a billion. Only the soccer World Cup and the Olympics can claim more viewers than that. They happen every four years. Grands Prix take place every two weeks.

From a business perspective, Formula 1 also exists as one of the most high profile billboards in the world. With just 11 teams and 22 drivers, potential advertising space on these modern day chariots is limited and in high demand, with every penny of investment going to cut the tenths of a second that can make the difference between points, podiums and that most powerful drug of all… victory.

And yet for all its allure, for all its success, Formula 1 is still a niche interest in one of the biggest global markets of them all. America remains the land of opportunity for Formula 1 and the market in which it has the most interest in conquering.

Land of opportunity
It has long been said that Formula 1 needs America more than America needs F1 and, since I started working on the US television broadcast four years ago, I have seen an extent to which this old adage rings true. America is a sports mad nation, but a sports mad nation with quite an insular view. For many US sports fans the great rivalries are not inter-nation, but inter-state. NASCAR and IndyCar have always carried more popular support stateside than Formula 1, their calendars existing almost exclusively within the North American continent.

Of course, Formula 1 does itself no favours in trying to establish itself in the US. It is the big show, and considers itself to be the pinnacle of all racing worldwide. How very arrogant to come into still unchartered territory and claim that it is the best racing out there. But Formula 1 and humility have never and will never be easy bed fellows. There are no American teams. There are no fulltime American F1 drivers. How then, can F1 sell itself to the mass populous of its most important market?

In order to ensure roots are laid down for a solid future in the US, a partnership was needed with a network that would promote the championship and push it forward. In NBC Sports, I think Formula 1 has that. It has been a pleasure to work this season with the whole crew and with a network keen to promote Formula 1 across its many and varied platforms. The committed and loyal fan base that exists in the States needs to know that waking up in the early hours will be worth its time, and the quality of the show reflects the investment and faith that the network has in the product.

The Monaco Grand Prix saw the highest figures for an F1 race in the US for over five years. The fan base is there, and it is growing with each passing race.

I am glad to see US-based companies like Internap showing their support for Formula 1 by sponsoring the Sahara Force India Formula 1 team. Internap, a provider of high-performance hosting services, hosts Sahara Force India’s website which is the primary means of communicating with the media and engaging with the team’s growing, global fan base. The US Grand Prix gives Internap the opportunity to support Formula 1 in the states while strengthening customer relationships through VIP hospitality and exclusive access to the Sahara Force India team.

Formula 1’s future in the US appears to be very bright indeed. The interest is clearly there for US-based sponsors, and the fan base is expanding almost as fast as the Formula 1 calendar itself. Formula 1 may always have believed that it needs America more than America needs it, but on recent form it appears that while America might not need Formula 1, it not only wants Formula 1… it loves Formula 1.

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Sep 20, 2013

Sahara Force India: This F1 website doesn’t brake for pit stops

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Sahara Force India

Formula One is rightly regarded as one of the greatest expressions of technology. In a world living on the edge, where a thousandth of a second can mean the difference between triumph and defeat, there is no space for compromise.

The same mentality applies to the IT solutions that power the Sahara Force India website, our most effective platform to interact with our fans and engage them. In a technological world that is connected 24/7, nothing is left to chance. Through our website, we connect with Formula One followers all over the world, sharing news, behind-the-scenes insights and information, making them an integral part of our team.

Top performance online and on the circuit
Formula One is a global sport and our team has fans in every continent. It is crucial for our website to be live and accessible at every hour in the day and in the night – no downtime is acceptable: our partnership with Internap guarantees the most reliable platform in order to leave no fan out in the cold – wherever their location and needs.

Especially at race weekends, when traffic reaches its peaks, the platform created by Internap allows us to achieve top performance, while the knowledge that no fan is ever let down by our website’s technological solutions gives our team the ease of mind to concentrate on bringing new, exciting content to our fans.

Being able to count on a website that delivers unrivalled performance has allowed us to build a unique relationship with our followers, bringing them exclusive content with the confidence our fans will be able to enjoy it.

“I visit the website every day” says Patricia, who hails from the Asturias in Spain; “I am a massive fan of your blogs where you talk about your summer break, how you feel when going somewhere for the first time or how is it like for the team to race in India. This kind of entries put us fans closer to the team and I appreciate that a lot.”

Young fan Cassie, from England, attributes her passion for Formula One to the team’s website, her one-stop-shop for information. “I read every article, even older ones – each one helps my Formula One knowledge grow” is her verdict. “Without the website I wouldn’t have my Paul Di Resta shirt, I wouldn’t know where to get the full race previews from all the team – I wouldn’t be one of your Best Fans!”

The website is the way our team connects to our home in India and to the passionate fans following our team there. Superfan Darshan, from Kolkata, is “really thankful for the website, the best source of information about the team.

“The blogs give us so much about what is going on behind the scenes. When you go through them, one can imagine the situation and feel just like you’re there with the team. It is also great to read about [Academy Driver] Jehan’s excellent performances. It’s tough to get hold of any news of him on the net but there are so many updates by the team!”

Through our website, we try to bridge the gap between the team and the millions of fans who wish us well every race weekend. Getting closer, sharing the insights of what happens backstage at a Grand Prix gives the hundreds of thousands who cannot travel to a race the opportunity to be part of the team. There are a few fans, however, for which this connection reaches an even more personal level – those for whom the interaction with our site allows to keep in touch with loved ones: the families of our team members.

“The team website is so important for us” says Oana, originally from Bucharest. “It makes us feel part of the race weekends and therefore part of the lives of our dear ones when they’re away. The same goes for all our friends, work colleagues and extended family so the virus of F1 and love for SFI spreads through its people.

“As a fan of the team, I love all the drivers’ pre- and post-race comments. I love their optimism and determination and the explanations making things clear for all us non-engineers!”

The positive feedback from our loyal fans is a huge reward for everyone in the team and renews our commitment to work hard, in partnership with Internap, to bring an even better website experience for our followers.

We listen carefully to the suggestions and comments of the best Formula One fans in the world. As we keep improving our offer, we want to bring you even more. Loyal fan Tim, from England, enjoys “one of the best and easiest to access sites of all the F1 teams so keep up the good work” and asks for “more about the team – the key players, the factory and the staff behind running a large operation like a F1 team.”

Working with Internap, we can keep working on bringing you the best content – today and tomorrow.

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Jul 12, 2013

Video: Live from the F1 British Grand Prix

Ansley Kilgore

I recently had the pleasure of attending one of the most anticipated F1 races of the year: the British Grand Prix at Silverstone. As anyone passionate about Formula One knows, this is where it all started. The first world championship was held at this circuit in 1950, so there was definitely a sense of excitement for my first European race and the mystique that surrounds Silverstone. To make it extra special, we hosted customers on the lawn of Sahara Force India’s headquarters – practically right on the circuit – at their annual partner event. Will Buxton and Jason Swales from NBC sports gave us some media muscle and helped document the festivities.

Watch four of our customers discuss their impressions of the Grand Prix weekend, the race and their partnership with Internap.

Bango
CCP Games
Onavo
Sahara Force India

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Mar 12, 2013

F1 2013: Sahara Force India & Paul Di Resta Suit Up for Performance

Ansley Kilgore

Formula One kicks off the 2013 season this weekend with the Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne. As Sahara Force India’s Official Supplier for Online Performance, we are geared up for an exhilarating season!

To get you in the mood, turn up the volume and immerse yourself in the imagery and sound of F1.

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Jan 15, 2013

Sahara Force India and Internap – one year later

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Motor Racing - Formula One World Championship - Formula 1 Testing - Day 1 - Mugello, ItalySitting in my office on a dreary British January day (a Monday to add further insult to injury), I have just come off the telephone to our good friends at Internap HQ, based in Atlanta, Georgia. The weather may not be much better on the other side of the pond at this time of the year, but it is certainly a tonic to think so!

Following our call, I cannot help but reflect that at this juncture in 2012, we were in the midst of partnership negotiations and had yet to put any faces to names or fully explore all the opportunities open to us as partners. Some twelve months on and we are entering the second year of our association, both sides bringing with them a collection of great memories and achievements from 2012. I now know what high-speed internet hosting is all about and my colleagues at Internap understand a little more about Formula One tyre strategy. I should say that not only do I know what high-speed internet hosting actually means, but I have actually seen the effects of it first hand, with the Sahara Force India website benefitting from decreased load times and a greater ability to deal with the spikes in traffic that Formula One race weekends bring. In fact, I am now evangelical about the benefits of HSIH (as I like to call it) to my ever-suffering and IT-literate husband. But of far greater importance than improving my (decidedly weak) IT vocabulary has been the opportunity for key Internap customers and specialist IT media to meet our 2012 driver line-up: Paul Di Resta, Nico Hulkenberg and Jules Bianchi.

Starting with a dinner in New York in June after the Montreal Grand Prix, taking in an IT media briefing in the UK at Silverstone around the British Grand Prix and climaxing in a meet and greet event in Austin, Texas during the inaugural Austin Grand Prix, there have been plenty of opportunities for the friends and customers of Internap to get up close and personal with the senior team personnel and drivers. During these events, the synergies between the two organisations have become increasingly obvious. Both parties apply advanced technology to save time, both are performing in a crowded market place (or grid in Sahara Force India’s case) and both are striving to be the very best in their particular field.

2013 is set to be another exciting year in Formula One’s history, and at Sahara Force India we plan to continue to score strong points and challenge our competitors throughout the season. We have some further activity planned with Internap at key rounds, and some expansion phases planned for our website, www.forceindiaf1.com. One thing is sure, we are in safe hands with Internap as our hosting partner, leaving us time to concentrate on what we do best — racing cars. As for me, well, I hope my IT education will continue. I believe there is an IT cloud as well as our January rain clouds, so that is my next lesson to be learnt. Wonders will never cease…

For more information about Sahara Force India and Internap, read the case study.

 

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Sep 7, 2012

Six questions to ask when reassessing your IT goals

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Questions to ask when re-assessing your IT goalsEvery summer Formula 1 takes a break from the ‘circus’ with a two-week enforced factory shutdown. The teams are not allowed to work in the factory or on the cars. It gives everyone the chance to sit back and relax from the first half of the year. What it also does is give the teams, engineers, principals, managers and drivers time to think about how they are going to approach the rest of the year. How are they going to get the next 1/10 of a second out of that wing? How are they going to manage the pit stop strategies as they go to places notorious for dynamic weather patterns, for instance the last race at Spa. These are the types of questions that they are thinking about, planning for and waiting to act upon.

This time can also be an opportunity for you as an IT professional to look back and reassess how the first half of your year has gone. During these last few days of summer you can take a break too, just like Formula 1 teams, and spend it planning — either how to improve the resources you have now or to move on to a better resource, which helps to sharpen and make more effective your team’s resources.

Here are some questions you may want to consider when reassessing your IT goals for the rest of the year:

  • Do you have any budget left you could use before the close of the year?
  • If so, what projects are at the top of your list?
  • Have you met all of your planned data needs? Where are you at with capacity to support more data/media on your current servers/hardware?
  • Have your customers been complaining about slow performance or dropped sessions with your applications/website? How can you improve? Is it time to add web acceleration technologies?
  • Do you have upcoming seasonal needs? Is it time to try out the cloud to avoid capital expenditures?
  • What can you do to make the rest of your year more productive?

These are just a few ideas to get you thinking as summer comes to a close. What other things are you considering as we enter the last few months of 2012?

 

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May 11, 2012

What Formula One can teach us about testing, performance and results

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Motor Racing - Formula One World Championship - Formula 1 Testing - Day 1 - Mugello, ItalyMotorsport teams, especially Formula 1, test their cars and equipment as much as they can. Why do the teams test?  They do this so they can bring the best possible combination of parts and strategies to the race. Over the past few days, all of the F1 teams have been allowed to bring their cars and equipment to Mugello, Italy to test. This is one time during the race season where official testing on the cars can be performed in real-life conditions. (Meaning not on a simulator or in a wind tunnel.) The teams are limited to only 15,000 km (approx. 9,000 mi) of real world testing per calendar year, which includes both pre-season and current season.

What exactly is “testing?” It involves bringing in newly designed aerodynamic parts, electronic parts, suspension parts and unseen motor parts to be used in a real-world environment. The cars are carefully measured, weighed and warmed up before each and every session. During every second of every session, multiple sensors from the engine coolant to brake temperatures and more are collected and measured. The measurements take place at the track for quick adjustments and assessments by the team and afterwards, at the factory, where they can do long-term and short-term trend analysis. These measurements allow the team to assess whether a small wing change can give them an advantage over the competition and thereby improve their results and ultimately win races.

The long and short of it is that the teams must test in order to improve their cars, to enhance performance and make gains that keep them ahead of the competition. So just like F1 tests continuously, Internap is always striving to improve its IT managed services for customers. Just take a look at our new Agile Hosting service, for example. After many months of testing, we are now able to offer a dynamic, new online configurator, which allows enterprises to instantly customize and provision both physical and virtual IT Infrastructure needs to meet diverse and rapidly growing demands. Improvements like these mean better performance, and better performance means better results — results that help your organization stay ahead and give you the edge over your competitors today.

Click here to access our new online configurator to provision popular bare-metal configurations in minutes and seamlessly hybridize virtual and physical servers to meet your specific application requirements.

Image Credit: Sahara Force India Formula One Team

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Apr 20, 2012

What Formula 1 can teach us about teamwork

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What Formula 1 can teach us about teamworkFormula 1™ is a very competitive sport and business. With the average team spending tens of millions, and the top teams spending hundreds of millions of dollars, each team is trying to get the most effective use of their money and resources.

The goal of the team is to win races and to win championships. F1 teams spend hundreds of hours designing, building, testing (when allowed) and perfecting each aspect of the car. What you and I see on the TV screen is the result of this teamwork. The effort culminates in two drivers from the team going out onto the track and using their knowledge of the car, their race craft and experience, to pursue F1 victory.

If you have ever seen the overhead shots of a F1 pit stop, you will see 16+ people (including three per wheel, one each for front and rear jacks, an extra man with engine start gear, and the lollipop man holding the driver in the pit) perform a highly orchestrated ballet of sorts. It is a very short ballet, usually less than four seconds, which allows the team to change all four tires and make slight wing adjustments (and in previous years, refuel the car.) This teamwork helps the driver get into and out of the pits ready to go back out onto the track and challenge for victory.  Just take for example the Sahara Force India team who has actually won an award for speedy pit stops.

The pit crew is the most visible aspect of the modern F1 team, but there are many other team members back at the factory who are designing, building, manufacturing and testing parts that will end up in or on the car. There is also a huge logistical effort to get all of the cars, personnel and equipment to each race venue. All of this effort contributes to building and maintaining the team and the drive for success.

This past weekend at the Chinese Grand Prix we witnessed how that effort and drive paid off for Nico Rosberg, who after over 100 races scored his first F1 victory. His victory was a product of everyone’s efforts on the Mercedes team. Together the team achieved the necessary performance advantage to obtain and score that victory.

Much like the pit crew helps the Sahara Force India team drivers achieve success, the Internap NOC (Network Operations Center) and on-site data center staff help maintain the IT Infrastructure that drive our customers’ successes. Two NOCs, one here in Atlanta and one in Seattle, address customer issues, answering calls within 10 seconds. Certified engineers, not just ticket-takers, tackle the calls, and 95% of all inbound issues are addressed by the engineer that first takes the request. Meanwhile, on-site data center personnel are available for managed data center services and support 24/7 including remote hands requests, managed installations and more. Now that is teamwork!

Looking for a winning team with support you can count on? Find out more about Internap’s Stevie Award-winning customer support.

Image Credit: Sahara Force India Formula One Team

 

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Apr 10, 2012

Accelerating ahead of the competition with F1 and XIP technology: Part two

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Accelerating ahead of the competition with F1 and XIP technology: Part twoIn part one I wrote about Formula 1’s DRS, the Drag Reduction System, and how teams and drivers utilize this technology to gain an advantage over the competition. In part two, I’ll write about another technological tool that F1 teams have at their disposal when competing: KERS (Kinetic Energy Recovery System).

KERS is a system to recover the kinetic energy that is present in waste heat created by the car’s braking process. It stores that energy and converts it into power that can be called upon by the driver to boost acceleration. The system, regulated by F1 rules, captures approximately 80 bhp (brake horsepower) that can be used by the driver via a boost button on the steering wheel for approximately 6.5 to 6.7 seconds per lap at specific locations. The braking action is always recharging the system during the lap, but it can never release more than the allotted 80 bhp. However, once the allotted energy is used up, the car has to pass the start/finish line again before the system is re-armed and available to the driver. It is optional equipment on the cars. The key points of the system are that it can be used both offensively and defensively. Offensively, it can be used to try and overtake a car ahead and defensively, it can be used to try and prevent the car behind from overtaking. KERS is a valuable tool and the tactics involved can give the driver a distinct advantage during the race. Every team wants to win and utilizing all of the tools at their disposal is paramount to winning the race.

Just like F1 drivers have access to advanced technologies like DRS and KERS, Internap customers have access to a toolkit of performance technologies themselves. These include our Performance IP™ service with our built-in Managed Internet Route Optimizer™ technology (MIRO), Accelerated IP, or XIP™, plus a robust Content Delivery Network with 100% uptime – just to name a few.

Need access to a toolkit that leaves the rest in the dust? Check out our performance video for an overview.

Image Credit: Sahara Force India Formula One Team

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Apr 6, 2012

Accelerating ahead of the competition with F1 and XIP technology: Part one

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Accelerating ahead of the competition with F1 and XIP technology: Part one

I’ve been a Formula 1 fan for years, attending my first F1 event in 1986 at the inaugural Hungarian Grand Prix. The small trek from the buses to the track was worth it when I was able to sit on the hillside and see, hear, and almost as importantly, feel the cars as they passed by below me. You can feel the power from the engines as it resonates inside your chest, hear the whine of the cars as they move away from you and smell the fumes and rubber after they’ve gone. It was a very visceral experience I’ll never forget.

Technology has come a long way with today’s cars utilizing things never dreamed of then. One of the technological advances is DRS, or the Drag Reduction System. Essentially, the system allows a driver to utilize downforce (drag) when it is needed in the corners and then remove downforce to obtain the highest speed possible on the straights. These movable rear wing elements are controlled electronically by the driver after a certain number of laps (determined by race control) and are activated when the car is within one second of the car ahead, which has to occur at a specific location on the track (the arming zone). Once armed, the driver waits for the opportunity to initiate the DRS on the following straight. This reduction in downforce effectively gives the driver/car approximately 10-12 km/h (5-6 mph) of extra speed down the straight, which may or may not be enough to complete a pass. The system is deactivated when the driver uses the brakes. The key point of the system is to gain a competitive advantage, even if temporarily. Every team wants to win and utilizing all of the tools at their disposal is paramount to winning the race.

It is the same in business. Every business wants to win, to gain customers and maintain that competitive edge. For our customers, utilizing all of the business tools at their disposal includes taking advantage of Internap’s Accelerated IP, or XIP™. XIP can improve enterprise web services and applications that rely on the TCP layer by up to 4x. It keeps your end user coming back, knowing that their order will be processed fast, having pages that load much more quickly and seeing fresh content at the speed of a click.

Image Credit: Sahara Force India Formula One Team

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