Cisco Enters the Home Straight for Olympics Preparation
UK CTO explains firm's strategies for success at London 2012UK CTO explains firm's strategies for success at London 2012
Behind every great athlete preparing for the Olympics is a team of experts - from nutritionists to trainers to medical staff - helping to ensure they can achieve their absolute best in time for the event, to be at the very peak of their physical prowess.
The running of the Olympics itself is no different, with the games themselves the star, but powered by a vast army of individuals, companies and government organisations all working to ensure the event is a success for the UK, and the world at large.
Technology is, of course, a major part of this, and Cisco is one of several major technology vendors providing equipment and expertise to the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games (LOCOG).
The INQUIRER spoke with the firm's UK chief technology officer, Ian Foddering, to discuss how the firm is ensuring that its preparations are helping to ensure the hardware and software that it's providing will play a crucial role in delivering the greatest show on earth.
Of course, for an event of such size, the amount of equipment being provided is huge, with 2,200 switches, 1,800 WiFi access points and 16,500 IP telephony handsets all being deployed by Cisco, as well as the firm's Webex audio conferencing service.
As Foddering explained, this will be used by LOCOG staff to help with internal collaboration during the games and is used in conjunction with BT's HUCS (Hosted Unified Communications Services) service, allowing the technology to be run as a cloud deployment.
"The way LOCOG is using Webex is a great example of how cloud computing can benefit organizations. At the start of the preparation they had some 200-odd staff but in the run-up to the games this will rise to almost 6,000 employees working around all venues," he explained.
"This will then shrink right back down again after the Paralympic Games, so using cloud technology to scale this up and down is perfect."
However, Cisco's role extends beyond merely providing equipment, as it is also heavily involved in strenuous pre-event tests designed to ensure that the systems in place will remain online in event of any scenario, from extreme weather events to possible terrorist attacks.
While not going into specifics, Foddering said that Cisco and other technology vendors involved in the games had carried out several rounds of tests involving multiple scenarios, in order to ensure they are prepared for all eventualities.
"The testing we are doing is well advanced, as you would expect, and it will carry on right up to the start of the games and so far it has all been very successful," he said.
"The site is very much a 24/7 environment so we will not be able to make any changes during the event, or in the run-up to the Paralympic Games either, so everything has to work throughout the entire period."
Foddering also revealed that Cisco is providing 30 technical experts that will be deployed at the LOCOG technical operation centres, where they will work with staff from other firms, including worldwide IT partner for the games Atos Origin.
"This will help us ensure that in the event of a failure or an issue, there will be staff working together that can produce a swift resolution should anything occur," he added.
Such high-level measures are clearly necessary for an event of the scale and importance of the Olympics. However, as Foddering notes, the actual equipment Cisco is providing is the same as other, more standard installs the firm runs.
"Some of our customers are surprised that we are using the same equipment at the Olympic site as they have for their deployments - they expect us to be using our most cutting-edge, newest equipment, but LOCOG actually specifies that we use tried-and-tested equipment," he said.
"We have to know how it will perform and that nothing will go wrong, so we use equipment like our Catalyst 6500, 3750 and 2960, which are some of our core server products."
However, while the equipment may be the same, Foddering admits the Olympics is a special occasion for the firm.
"The excitement levels within Cisco are incredibly high at the moment, we are all counting down to 2012, and this really is a very unique opportunity for the firm. It's like nothing we've ever done before," he said.
---Original reading from theinquirer.net
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