Ever since the dawn of the sport, racing drivers have appreciated the importance of the dashboard in the car. Even whilst dealing with the pressures and increased workload of driving a contemporary F1 car, drivers can, at a glance, get reassurance or receive a vital early warning of issues to react in the shortest possible timeframe.
The advantages of having an early warning system, together with the reassurance that all is functioning as it should, are equally as valid for the IT engineers that keep McLaren’s F1 cars on track. With responsibility to oversee two of the most complex, data-generating vehicles in the world, engineer Joe Bawn relies on the Raceday Dashboard. Developed by NTT Communications specifically for McLaren, the Raceday Dashboard’s intuitive user interface (UI) enables Bawn to keep an eye on thousands of data points and systems required to keep McLaren’s cars and trackside operations running smoothly.
Solving the issue of tracking multiple IT systems through a single display
Before the adoption of the Raceday Dashboard, McLaren’s engineers were faced with a massive overload of data that was dispersed across multiple locations and devices due to the use of legacy systems. “Historically, it was challenging to oversee all our systems. Our processes were time-consuming and despite our efforts, it was easy for us to miss things,” says Bawn. “With resource restrictions trackside meaning each engineer had a growing number of tasks, coupled with the sheer volume of data generated - easily a Terabyte a weekend - we didn’t have as much control as we’d like and turned to NTT Communications for support.”
Created in close collaboration with McLaren, the NTT Communications Raceday Dashboard has, in just a short space of time, become a crucial element for both prevention and resolution of issues as well as offering insight into how the infrastructure is functioning. “NTT Communications was quickly able to grasp what we needed and had the experience to integrate disparate systems such as AWS and Azure,” says Bawn. “It genuinely understood our requirements and brought its own experience and ideas from outside of motorsport to create a competitive advantage.”
Insight around the racing world
Developed on the proven NTT Communications Cloud Management Platform, McLaren’s Raceday Dashboard was built specifically for the team using tools and features available to all Enterprise Cloud customers. One crucial requirement was to be able to monitor both the infrastructure at all 21 tracks on the F1 calendar as well as the IT systems at ‘Mission Control’ in the UK. “It’s vital that wherever we are competing, we understand how all our systems are performing,” says Bawn. “The Raceday Dashboard provides more insight into the interactivity of the components of our complex infrastructure.”
The right information always to hand
The Raceday Dashboard now enables McLaren’s engineers to see at a glance, on a variety of devices, the status of the team’s entire IT infrastructure. “The user interface, customised to our requirements, tells me how all of our systems are performing in real-time. Even when the pressure is on, say when the driver reports a problem we can’t immediately see, I can quickly confirm all is well from an IT standpoint,” adds Bawn. “It also provides me with reassurance wherever I am that all is running smoothly and if there is a problem, I know that the dashboard will give me the earliest warning to respond. It’s one less thing for me to worry about.”
Delivering impressive efficiency gains of up to 20 per cent
Beyond the clear benefits of being able to proactively manage IT systems, Bawn and his colleagues have realised unexpected benefits through the adoption of the Raceday Dashboard. “By freeing up my time from monitoring multiple sources and devices we have become more efficient, by as much as 20 per cent. I’ve been able to use that time, together with the data from the Cloud Management Platform, to identify potential bottlenecks as well as uncovering under-used resources,” claims Bawn. “One such example could be a machine running low on disk space or the CPU running too high. We have certain thresholds set which allow us to be proactive in resolving those issues. It has happened on a few occasions where a machine is low on disk space, but because of the insight NTT Communications provide, it’s allowed me to free up space.”
McLaren is also realising that the benefits of control extend beyond the IT department. For Head of Strategy Randeep Singh, knowing Bawn has a system able to spot potential problems and rectify them before they become issues, has increased confidence for him to focus on other developing situations. “In the comfort that we have the capacity to run extra simulations or, that scheduled back-ups won’t interfere with our own data transfers, means I can concentrate on improving our race performance,” says Singh. “And if there is an issue, we can identify and solve it quickly.”
Platform highlights potential for wider applications and performance gains
Having a richer, easy to use interface to monitor the IT infrastructure, is according to Bawn, another example of the relevance of technology transfer from the racetrack. “We are already sharing our experiences with other McLaren divisions,” says Bawn. “Having a greater insight into the IT infrastructure in for example, a manufacturing environment, can avoid unnecessary line stoppages or disruption. Now, proven in the harsh environment of F1, we will look to share the benefits elsewhere within McLaren.”
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