NHL® to Deliver Next-Level Stats with SAP HANA Cloud

The players are at the heart and core of the NHL, the world’s top professional hockey league. With high-quality and instantly accessible data, coaches can better direct their performance to beat out the competition. Future data from the NHL’s new puck and player tracking system, with support from SAP HANA Cloud, will provide valuable insights in real-time to NHL coaching staffs via the SAP-NHL Coaching Insights App for iPad. This new data will reveal enhanced player locations, speed and acceleration metrics, puck zone time, and much more.

SAP HANA Cloud will house the enormous amount of generated tracking coordinates with its data tiering capabilities. It will also serve as a powerful processing engine to bring data to the end-users. Through SAP HANA Cloud, coaches will gain easily understandable insights to make data-backed decisions. With visualizations made possible by SAP Analytics Cloud, the league can review the coaching teams’ usage of the app to be able to further improve the solution and tailor it to their needs.  

Every 30 milliseconds puck and player position coordinates recorded
30 gigabytes of archived data per game analyzed instantly
40 terabytes of inexpensive long-term storage per season

Puck and player tracking will be an invaluable asset to our coaches as it generates an incredible amount of data. SAP HANA Cloud is completely up to the challenge of handling all of this data. Thanks to the powerful tiering capabilities, we will save on time, resources, and cost.

Eric Schneider, SVP of IT and Development, NHL
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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 data storage tier allowing coaches to make tactical decisions on the fly.

After each game, SAP HANA Cloud’s data tiers offer 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, as this Puck and player tracking data from past seasons can still reveal long-term trends.


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.

We’re looking forward to rolling out puck and player tracking league-wide and having this data available for our coaches and fans. SAP HANA Cloud will allow us to reliably store the incredible amount of data that will be generated and is the powerful backend solution we needed to turn this project into a reality. As a result of SAP HANA Cloud’s high performance, we will be able to get real-time insights from this data.

David Lehanski, EVP Business Development & Innovation, NHL

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