Inside the London 2012 Olympic Network

Michael Vizard

When it comes to managing IT under pressure, there’s probably no bigger stage than the London 2012 Olympics. After all, nearly 50,000 people are involved in staging an event that over 4 billion people are supposed to tune and watch at some point.

According to Ian Foddering, Cisco CTO for the United Kingdom and Ireland, one of the more interesting facts about the IT infrastructure for the games was a requirement that all the technology involved had to be two or more years old.

The thinking behind that requirement, says Foddering, is that the London Olympic committee wanted to make sure that only proven technologies were used in order to minimize risks. That might strike some IT folks as being overly cautious, but given the scope of the Cisco networking equipment being deployed in a relatively short period of time, that level of caution might be forgivable.

Some of the highlights of that deployment include the ability to transmit 60 Gigabits per second, which is roughly the equivalent of the entire content of Wikipedia every 0.5 seconds, using 2,200 switches. That creates 65,000 active network ports being used to transfer 40 Gigabytes of data per second.

The network itself is being managed by British Telecom and the IT services from Atos on behalf of the London Olympic committee. Obviously, given the scale, something could obviously go wrong. But as Foddering notes, the network has been getting as much training as the athletes, in this case some 200,000 hours, which means the odds that the network will medal over the next 17 days are more than favorable.

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