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Are Middle East Corporate IT Networks Resilient Enough to Deal with the Olympic Games London 2012 fever?
It’s not just the athletes that need to watch out for the hurdles in the run up to the London 2012 games, highlights Brocade’s regional manager MENA, Sufian Dweik
June 11, 2012 9:37 by Colin_Saldanha
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates, 6 June 2012: The clock is ticking – the world’s greatest sporting event will be held in London in less than 2 months from now; the Olympic Games. This is already causing IT headaches, not just for the organisers and organizations in London, but those across the globe and the Middle East too.
Let’s consider the direct/indirect IT impact, particularly on the network, and consider it by the numbers: some 10 million people will visit the 2012 official website; 8.5 billion sports fans are expected to be monitoring the games via the Internet – equating to about 30 per cent more data traffic than in Beijing; around 27,000 journalists will be writing reports and downloading images; plus hundreds of thousands of employees, volunteers, athletes and affiliate organisations will be using the on-site communications network in some way; consider these numbers and you begin to grasp the sheer enormity of the task at hand.
Let’s consider the Olympics from a more holistic position for a moment: how the Olympics will disrupt the behaviour of the global population during July/August.
Brocade’s regional manager MENA, Sufian Dweik says that the Olympics are set to have an impact on everything from TV broadcasting, online streaming, consumer spending, online banking, social media usage, the consumption of news, transport networks, and everything in between.
First, let’s consider broadcast. In the last few years, the viewing habits and expectations of the public have changed exponentially, with demand for HD and 3D television sets higher than ever. It should come as no surprise, then, that the BBC, the official broadcaster of the Games, will devote 24 special channels to Olympic coverage, half of which will be available in HD, to allow views to watch every Olympic sport, live from every venue. The increased data demands on broadcasters’ networks will be considerable: HD consumes 120 megabits per second (Mbps) and 3D consumes a massive 240 Mbps while Standard Definition (SD) TV, a mere 50 Mbps. Consumers will expect ‘flicker-free’ images and any network instability will seriously jeopardise the user experience.
The same is applicable to online streaming. The increasing regularity of websites with ‘rich’ content (high res images and streamed content), along with IPTV, has put greater demands on networks; the pressure on the networks of organisations reporting or dealing with any sort of Olympic related traffic or news will be immense.
Home working will no doubt increase as employees will want to catch all the action from the comfort of their homes. The additional congestion on corporate and service provider could be challenging. The thousands of additional employees accessing corporate networks from their personal devices will pile additional pressure on to already stretched networks. Critically, companies that have not already addressed this challenge may be risking a significant productivity/revenue slump during the Games. Those that have addressed it need to be 100 per cent sure that they have back-up plans in place should network performance waiver.
These games are the first to fully engage with social media, with the likes of Twitter and Facebook representing the modern face of social engagement and information sharing. Every national team will have its own Facebook page and most, if not all athletes will have their own private blogs, Facebook pages, Twitter accounts and even dedicated websites. The Olympics will no doubt see traffic through social media mediums, along with the likes of the BBCs and Sky Sports channels of the world will go through the roof.
Everybody knows how exasperating it is when the Twitter page goes down, due to the server issues caused by too many users online at once – imagine the frustration if this were the case for sustained periods of time during events, like the 100 meters sprint or 50 meters freestyle – over in an instant and containing such iconic Olympians as Usain Bolt and Michael Phelps.
The challenge facing IT organisations in the run up to, and during the Olympics will be to predict workloads and potential areas of stress upon corporate networks and manage them accordingly. For many, a subscription-based acquisition option for network infrastructure, which allows organisations to align network capacity with fluctuating business demands, may well be the most operationally efficient and economically viable solution.
Being able to flex and react to consumer demands without affecting performance or initiating an outage – whether it is to increase capacity within 24 hours, or simply add extra bandwidth – will keep end users happy, and give an organisation the edge on competitors.
Similarly, recognising the importance and areas potentially at risk on the network is key; investment in comprehensive network monitoring tools gives network managers confidence in the exact state of the health of their network and can provide rapid diagnosis, before any outages occur.
A comprehensive planning, testing and simulation-building environment will ensure that business applications are resilient and aren’t close to falling over anytime soon – no matter the levels of stress they are exposed to. Network managers are concerned about what the network is doing, while not knowing, and not being able to do anything about it. Warning signs including bottlenecks and where they are; whether the network is near its limits, or if a component is near the end of its useful life are key to keeping the network functioning efficiently when it comes under extra stress.
By following the tips above, and with appropriate IT and networking measures in place, the potential black spots listed above can be avoided and everybody can look forward to a successful and problem free games.
Brocade (Nasdaq: BRCD) networking solutions help the world’s leading organizations transition smoothly to a world where applications and information reside anywhere. (www.brocade.com)
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