When it comes to popular road races, people scramble to sign up almost as quickly as they'll run to the finish line. For runners, completing a race is a tremendous sign of achievement, and it also provides a networking opportunity for an activity that can otherwise be solitary. According to Running USA's "2013 State of the Sport," 2012 saw 15.5 million people in the U.S. cross the finish lines of various running events scattered across the country. These events were not limited to traditional running alone – they also included a smattering of obstacle courses, mud runs, and other events.

But what united all the events was a need for participant registration. A race cannot be held where runners simply show up day-of. That would be chaotic. Thus, runners make sure to sign up for races far in advance of the event. But handling the registration of more than 15 million people can prove difficult for any kind of business. Luckily, for the groups charged with road race registration, that is where the enterprise cloud enters the picture.

A registration service that looked to the enterprise cloud to fix its vulnerabilities
In the world of competitive racing, the busiest time for registration – especially at popular races – is right when the opportunity opens up, according to CIO contributor Jen Miller. The influx of prospective participants can quickly become unmanageable for a registration company that is not prepared for the onslaught – as sign-up site Active.com discovered when overseeing registration for the Chicago Marathon in 2013. When the site opened up for registration, it was quickly so overrun with users that it shut down, Chicago Business reported.

This embarrassment led Active.com to re-evaluate its approach to registering prospective runners. They found their answer by exploring the enterprise cloud. With an estimated 5.5 million visitors to its site per month according to CIO, Active.com cannot be called a small operation. Yet even its infrastructure was not prepared for the barrage of requests it would receive surrounding the Chicago Marathon. In order to prevent future mishaps, the company has landed on an answer that is firmly planted in the enterprise cloud: virtual queuing.

Now, if a massive number of people access the site at the same time and attempt to sign up, they will be given a number denoting their spot in the virtual line. This will prevent the site from getting overwhelmed by traffic. After all, just as a physical ticket booth would quickly stop functioning if a huge crowd simply stormed its windows, so too would an online ticket dispenser. Through its new system, the company hopes to maintain order in the cloud.

Within enterprise cloud, solutions to challenges
Inevitably other businesses in the cloud will face predicaments like the one Active.com dealt with. However, these problems are far more likely to arise in the public cloud, which has neither the security infrastructure nor sense of cohesion to sustain a company. Fortunately, the enterprise cloud provides a secure and organized platform on which companies can not only continue to function, but also enhance operations.