With the eyes of the world watching, the team running the IT infrastructure for the London 2012 Olympic Games is putting the emphasis on reliability, not showcasing cutting edge technology.
That means that hot technologies such as cloud computing won’t form part of the core Olympic IT infrastructure for now.
Michele Hyron, chief integrator for London 2012 at Atos, which leads the consortium of IT suppliers running the Olympic tech infrastructure, told TechRepublic: “We are using some virtualisation but we are not in the cloud. We are always working with proven technologies: at the beginning of the project we take the technology steps that are needed because you cannot be frozen forever, so we have to evolve, but we are [careful] choosing the pieces.”
She added, of the cloud: “When we did the analysis back in 2009 we were not ready to take that step… It’s very interesting but it was too early for us.”
The four year gap between each Olympic Games makes it a tricky balancing act in terms of making sure the IT infrastructure remains up to date, Hyron said.
“We have to find the balance when we make the choices at the beginning of the project, to make sure the solutions we are adopting will still be maintained at the time of the Games which is usually four years later.
“That’s why in some cases we will change the operating system versions, or something like this, because four years later they will not be maintained any more. It’s always a very interesting exercise we do at the beginning of the project.”
The team running the Olympic IT systems have recently completed the first technical rehearsal, overseen by officials who have a list of disaster scenarios which they inflict in order to test the team.
This involved simulating incidents like unplugging equipment or somebody calling in sick. “The aim is to test the reaction of the team, to see they are ready to react properly and work under a lot of stress because the technical rehearsal officials are throwing in a lot of scenarios, way beyond what is expected to happen during the games,” Hyron said.
She said the rehearsal had gone well: “We are happy with the way the team is responding to incidents,” and said that there was more work to be done on the communication between the venues and the technology operations centre.
The second technical rehearsal takes place in the second half of May, along with a second disaster recovery rehearsal. “The concept is the same it will happen in more venues,” Hyron said.
While the Olympics is still months away some of the systems - like the accreditation system - are already up and running. Deployment of systems at venues will go on throughout May, June and July, with a total of 900 servers, and more than 10,000 PCs being rolled out. Soon the tech team will start to swell - from around 300 now to 3,500 as Atos staff, students and interns join the team. “There are still more than 100 days to go and we are still very busy,” said Hyron.