ESPN is the largest programmer for cable television sports in the world. Moreover, it is the most popular source of results for sports, commentary and content on the web. As a result, there is a need for the company to deploy technologies for processing information necessary for serving the online audience, which has more than 50 million varied and unique visitors each month. Such processing technologies ought to be flexible, efficient and powerful for the company to achieve the set objectives and goals. Current case study report will describe various concepts and facets of the ESPN Company.
How many requests from users does ESPN receive each second? Do you think this is a consistent pattern or does it have peaks and valleys? When does it peak?
ESPN handles at least ten thousand requests from its users in a second. It takes place over a period of four hours when the events are ongoing. It implies that the pattern is not consistent. The valley occurs when there are no events taking place. The company boasts of thirty-two million users online. Such number makes it the 34th most accessed and popular site on the web. The website offers videos, information, and sports programming. ESPN has broadband services and five local sites. The local sites deliver more than four thousand online live events meant for its subscribers. Due to the high number of unique and different users online, the company has to ensure that the different requests and preferences are tracked. The requests and preferences come with each particular user.
Additionally, due to the increasingly high amount of popularity on the Internet, it is difficult to contemplate the amount of requests from users who visit the site on a single instance each second. During the peak time, the company receives approximately ten thousand requests within a second from its subscribers. Consequently, 10,000 requests in a second emanating from subscribers are redundant and relentless. It implies that, with every second, at least 10,000-requests come to the site from the users. However, as discussed earlier, the requests are not consistent. The requests from the subscribers only tend to increase and reach the peak when a game is being played or immediately after the game ends. Subscribers enjoy visiting ESPN.com to watch live events, scores, pre tapped footage, highlights of the played games and the talk shows.
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Why does ESPN store personal information and preferences on its databases and how does this personal information complicate the ability of ESPN to respond to requests from users? Why can’t ESPN just use Web page caching to handle the loads?
The company stores personal preferences and information for the users in databases to make sure that mobile and online websites are personalized. The company uses not only personalization but also requires single sign in. For instance, ESPN wants to have preferences for each customer forwarded to their phones, iPhones, other devices or even any website owned by the subscribers. The personalization provides opportunities for preferences like favorite sports, such as NFL or MLB. The latter may also include favorite teams, such as Cowboys, Dallas and the Texas Rangers. The composer only needs to receive requests and preferences from the subscribers and send them to the ESPNs grid. The grids from the company send back the message to the composer. It gives the composer an opportunity to build responses that are personalized and based on the requests made by the user. The responses to the user are then processed and sent out back in a single digit millisecond. Thus, the stored personal information in the databases of ESPN ensures that there is a total personalization experience for all the users with particular personal preferences.
Additionally, personal information makes it difficult for ESPN to offer responses to requests received from subscribers. It is caused by the fact that ESPN has to provide an answer to the user within a single millisecond, considering the fact that there are thousands of users expecting the answer. More so, ESPN has to ensure that it is able to communicate to the accurate service, as well as respond back to the subscriber within one millisecond required for response.
ESPN cannot decide to utilize web page caching. There is a need to store more than 10 million subscribers. Therefore, with full redundancy, there is a need to store or handle more than two hundred gigabytes of data. Moreover, the company requires similar personalization system to be used in soccernet.com, its mobile websites and the deporter.com.
How much information on users does ESPN store? Why does this pose a challenge for ESPN? Can’t they just use a standard 1 terabyte hard drive from a PC? Why can’t they use a single PC?
ESPN stores information for more than ten million subscribers. It accounts for approximately 200 gigabytes of data for the users. According to the Manny Pelarinos of ESPN, it averages to almost five kilobytes for each user. Much of the data is utilized to store the custom data of the subscribers so that the company can exhibit to the users the information regarding their favorite sports, teams, among other facets.
As a result, the information stored poses challenges for the company because the amount of information is big and cannot fit in one or even a hundred of JVMs. Moreover, the company cannot use a hard drive of standard 1 terabyte from a personal computer or make use of single personal computer because the information has to be encrypted. More so, programs for transforming the encrypted information into data that the computer comprehends for faster responses are required.
What platforms do ESPN customers use when access their Web sites, and how does this further complicate ESPN’s processing picture?
Apart from the personal computers, the customers of ESPN use soccernet.com, mobile platforms and deportes.com to have an access to ESPN. Therefore, the company has to use similar personalization systems for all the platforms. It is caused by the fact that the company needs to utilize its personalized programs in all platforms and systems. Since the company needs its systems to be usable on various platforms and systems, it has to adapt a system that can be used on varied platforms and ensure that there is enough data space for keeping data and information accurate. In addition, the users have access to regular and mobile websites. Therefore, the users are able to receive their information irrespective of the device or platform used to access the data.
What are the key components in ESPN’s solution? Describe the function of each.
ESPN uses a relational database known as personalization DB. The personalization DB has two specific components known as composer and grid. Finally, there is the Existing Service Tier. The grid uses the ABM WebSphere eXtreme Scale. The latter is effective and efficient. Indeed, it is very fast and enhances the response of the millisecond time. The other component, composer, understands how to communicate with the grid.
In general, the regular process entails user participation. The user utilizes the ESPN.com and request for his or her favorites. The user’s request is then sent to the composer, which, within sub seconds, passes the message to the grid. The grid knows the preloaded data and information, which comes from the personalization DB and the preferences required. The latter are sent to the composer and afterwards forwarded to the ESPN’s Existing Service Tier. At that time, the composer asks for scores, news or anything it requires. The Existing Service Tier then communicates to the composer in XML the information requested depending on the preferences of the user. The composer then communicates and exhibits the information to the user. The above process is executed within very short duration, namely, less than a second.
Why is Scalability So Important to ESPN?
Scalability of services enables the ESPN to offer fast response to every user. The company can achieve such goal because the grid works based on ten physical servers. Every physical server poses a RAM of 32 gigabytes. It enables ESPN to dynamically decelerate the servers at run-time and accelerate them when needed. It implies that the amount of servers can be adjusted depending on the amount of requests.
Therefore, the grid feature allows ESPN to switch off and on the servers within a very short time span. It can be done automatically based on what and where the services are required for best experience procurement. In fact, the grid has the capability of handling decreasing or growing amount of tasks in a capable manner. Energy is also another important factor of the system, as it helps to optimize the ESPN power utilization.
The structure provided by ESPN is effective, though requires additional improvements. There is a need for additional coding and making the system work better. The company has provided a good example of how great results can be achieved making very little efforts. When one thinks about ESPN, the notion of an industry leader appears despite the fact that the company uses very few programmers and developers and few resources for computing. Moreover, the company has managed to achieve highly visible results and develop a valued system. Apparently, it was caused by the fact that efficiency has been used in the company and has saved money to make profit.
ESPN should continue with its strategy of supporting and understanding its audience. The decisions made by the company should be driven by the set goals. Furthermore, the devices and platforms should always be made available to every user. The company should also enhance accuracy, speed, broad coverage, and availability of its data. It does not mean that the aforementioned facets are not catered for in the company. However, there is a need for the company to enhance them.
The tailored systems for various uses in ESPN should be enhanced, as well. It is caused by the fact that the tailored systems are the strength of the company and allow provision of different services to the users. For example, the company can decide to improve the query caching mechanism to optimize cases of distribution and game updates, since it is the main business of the company.
In conclusion, it is surprising how ESPN handles all the changes, complexity, load, and responsibility. Its system is quite complex to comprehend, as the company deals with such aspects as broadcasting and television, publishing, live scoring, editing, and providing sports score, digital media mobile, web personalization, and fantasy games. Additionally, the company wants to expand its API access to cater for the third party developers. All such aspects can be achieved through java enterprise stack.