Forget Cool--Reliability Reigns At Games - InformationWeek

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Forget Cool--Reliability Reigns At Games

100,000 hours of testing and 500 what-if scenarios later, Olympics IT managers are ready for the games to begin

Bobsled And Luge Run

Bobsled And Luge Run
For Turin, Atos Origin bought CA's Security Command Center for real-time monitoring of Olympic networks, Sun Microsystems products to manage 90,000 Olympic accreditations, and an array of antivirus software, firewalls, intrusion-detection systems, and port-security tools. In each case, the services firm went with what it decided was best-of-breed.

Reliability is all the more important because most of the equipment and technologies must be selected more than two years before the games to get the entire infrastructure tested and in working order by opening ceremonies. Chinese computer manufacturer Lenovo, which bought IBM's hardware business last year, provided most of the computing hardware for Turin, including desktops, laptops, and servers, all of which are battle-tested warriors. "This isn't the latest and coolest technology," says Philippe Levy, Lenovo's VP of marketing for the Olympic Games. "But then again, the Organizing Committee isn't a normal company."

Deep Freeze

Freestyle Ski Run

Freestyle Ski Run
And the Olympic Games aren't a normal deployment. Some of Lenovo's products will spend weeks atop 6,000-foot mountains at below-zero temperatures, far from preferred computing conditions. A series of technical tests and benchmarking by Olympic organizers years ago certified that Lenovo products were reliable for the games. But since Lenovo had never worked outside China on such a large scale, early discussions focused on assuring its dedication to the Olympics. Lenovo also is looking to the Turin experience to help it prepare for the 2008 Summer Games to be held in Beijing.

Lenovo is finishing the deployment mostly waiting for the games to begin. The company has 6,000 desktops, 800 notebooks, 600 printers, and 350 servers at various sites. Every event and show that people will see at the Olympics will touch a Lenovo computer at some point. A team of 60 will support Lenovo hardware for the 16 days of competition.

Atos Origin will provide the biggest IT support team for the Olympics, managing almost 2,000 people. Terabytes of data will move back and forth to keep the games running, and the services firm has initiated 100,000 hours of testing, including running 500 what-if scenarios that include everything from auto accidents that could affect traffic patterns to full-blown computer system shut-downs. The firm has created redundancy for everything: two data centers, two networks.

In From The Cold At Turins Main Tech Center

In From The Cold At Turin's Main Tech Center
Atos Origin and Lenovo employees will be joined by people from several other companies working on the critical IT infrastructure of the games. All had to make similar long-term decisions on technology. Nortel Networks is providing the main telephony infrastructure, and the Organizing Committee had its mind made up about how that infrastructure should look.

This meant that despite Nortel's recommendations to go with state-of-the-art technology, the committee decided four years ago to go with traditional telephony instead of voice over IP, which it considered too immature and unreliable. The Organizing Committee "had very clear and strong ideas about how the technology infrastructure had to be designed and implemented," says Pierfrancesco Di Giuseppe, Nortel Italy's president. That didn't stop the company from including within the infrastructure voice mail, unified messaging, audio conferencing, and remote gateways to connect far-flung Olympic sites.

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