Not a Cloud in the Sky: Why the Cloud Won’t Be Used at this Year’s Olympics

Given the transient nature of the Olympics – moving from city to city, country to country, continent to continent, only staying in one place for a month at a time – you’d have been forgiven for expecting the International Olympic Committee to be falling over themselves at the prospect of putting cloud computing networks through their paces at this year’s games.

The Olympic Games – at least from an IT point of view – lends itself almost perfectly to the convenience and security of cloud services. So why the reluctance to give the technology its Olympic debut?

Without wanting to sink too deeply into nonsensical management speak, the “mission critical” nature of the London Olympiad has been cited by one leading figure, as well as the “lack of maturity” in currently available cloud services.

Speaking at the BT press event, held in London this week, the CIO of the London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (LOCOG) Gerry Pennell was thankfully able to clarify the situation. At the event he explained his concerns and ruled out the use of cloud computing this time around;

“It was certainly not possible [to develop cloud computing services to the necessary standard] in the three and a half years we had in the interval between 2008 and 2012,” Mr Pennell explained.

“The trouble is the infrastructure in the cloud is not sufficiently mature…The applications aren’t there, they’re not written for the cloud; quite a big migration would be required to move that core infrastructure into the cloud.”

Despite the decision to delay the use of cloud services at the Olympics until a future games, Mr Pennell was still confident that cloud computing and the Olympic Games would eventually form a fine partnership. He explained the economic factors of hosting and organising an event where data intensity was so “peaky” and how managing this data leant itself to the technology of the cloud.

He also outlined areas in which cloud services had been used already, during the build up to the London Olympic Games, although he stressed that cloud computing had not been written into the LOCOG’s core plan.

In response to claims that the games’ organisers had been sleeping on technological developments in recent years, Pennell was keen to outline the leaps forward that had been made in these fields. Smartphone and tablet information services were just one of the new challenges posed to the organisers of 2012 games; this of course led to further quandaries such as how to produce professional-looking and informative apps for visitors to the games.

Much work has also been done with mobile networks to deal with the vast number of visitors to Olympic Park. Anyone who has ever been to a major sporting event or music festival will be well aware of the disruption large numbers of people can cause to mobile phone signal; the organisers of this year’s Olympiad hope to have eradicated this problem.

The introduction of a huge Technical Operations Centre (TOC) has been another one of the LOGOC’s technological introductions. This 180-seater command centre will cast a watchful eye over the IT systems of the entire games.

About Author Rob Pell

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This article was brought to you by Rob Pell an independent writer for Simplifydigital, the UK digital services experts. Simplifydigital are Ofcom accredited and provide independent advice to consumers looking for the right broadband, TV and home phone packages.

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