Defining the Data Problem
The NHL knows that providing coaches with innovative data solutions to analyze player and team performance continues to evolve the game. The first version of the SAP-NHL Coaching Insights App for iPad released in 2019, gave coaches instant insights into 60 different individual and team statistics. Although this customizable information helped coaches adjust strategies in real-time, the NHL wanted to continue the evolution by including tracking movements for the puck and all players within this app.
Adding puck and player tracking to the SAP-NHL Coaching Insights App will be an important data project for the NHL. With 31 teams historically playing 82 games in a regular season, the sensors used for tracking will generate terabytes of data per year. Much of this data must be analyzed instantly, as coaches need instant insights during gameplay. Historical data also has to be stored inexpensively for deeper pattern analysis into long-term trends.
The NHL found the right blend of affordable high-volume storage and fast performance they needed with SAP HANA Cloud.
Data Tiering and the Built-in Data Lake
For this project, the NHL required a single place to connect all their data for accurate analysis, both real-time during games and for long-term analysis (e.g., in-game preparations and reviews). The tiering capabilities offered by SAP HANA Cloud will give the NHL the flexibility to handle their data exactly as needed, without having to sacrifice performance. With the built-in data lake, the NHL will gain the ability to store massive data volumes that can still be accessed rapidly.
For real-time insights during the game, the SAP HANA in-memory data stores and processes each data point. Due to powerful transactional and analytical processing capabilities, there is no delay in this hot data storage tier allowing coaches to make tactical decisions on the fly.
After each game, SAP HANA Cloud’s warm data tiers offers affordable storage with high performance. Data that was once stored in-memory can be tiered down to the native storage extension and the data lake. This data remains easily in reach for shorter-term analytical purposes.
For long-term data from past seasons, data can be tiered down to the cold storage level. Puck and player tracking data from past seasons will reveal long-term trends, but it’s not needed with the ready access of the warm and hot data tiers.
Gaining Instant Analytical Insights
Effectively tiering all the necessary data is a crucial first step. Getting insights from the vast amounts of puck and player tracking data is most important. This will be made possible by SAP HANA Cloud’s advanced analytic power. With the spatial, graph, and machine learning capabilities, the NHL will gain insights from real-time data.
To further gain accurate and timely insights, SAP Analytics Cloud, an analytics and reporting solution, accesses data from within SAP HANA Cloud to generate easy-to-understand visualizations. Puck and player tracking data will enable the creation of new advanced metrics and statistics to help measure performance, including player speed, location, distance traveled, and player time on ice. SAP Analytics Cloud will also measure usage and performance of the SAP-NHL Coaching Insights App to reveal areas of improvement to enhance the user experience.
The Future for NHL Fans
The availability of the NHL’s puck and player tracking data within the SAP-NHL Coaching Insights App will equip coaches with insights that they never had before. While fans already gain impressive insights from the NHL.com/stats website powered by SAP HANA Cloud, the NHL plans to improve their experience by rolling out insights to millions of diehard fans. Soon, fans will be able to track the performance of their favorite teams and players on a level of detail that no other sport currently offers.
All of this is made possible with the advanced capabilities of SAP HANA Cloud.