An Olympic task for cloud technology

When the modern Olympic Games began in 1896 the only way to see the action was inside the arena. The first major technological milestone for audiences elsewhere was in 1924, when radio listeners could tune in to hear the live action.

Now, not only do we expect to be able to see the Games in full colour, live and in high definition, we also want all of the information, scores, updates and running totals wherever we are, whenever we choose.

London 2012 reached an audience of 4.8 billion people over the 16 days of the Games, and Rio is set to be the largest global audience in the history of the Olympics. This is primarily due to the maturity of mobile technology and internet streaming services allowing audiences to experience the Games online, from almost any location. With a four-hour time difference between Rio and the UK, most live coverage will be broadcast between 1pm and 3am; it is therefore likely that a lot of us will keep up with the latest news via digital services.

Digital services therefore need to be able to cope with extra traffic, especially during high profile events. Using a cloud infrastructure is key to hosting this kind of material, providing the ability to handle extremely high peaks in traffic and activity with efficiency and ease, ensuring that viewers can keep up with the latest news.

In addition to websites, those wanting to keep up with the latest Olympic news will be turning to mobile apps. It is predicted that two thirds of Olympics views will be ‘second-screen’, using handheld devices whilst also watching TV; in fact, research from Marketing Tech News suggests this will be the case for nearly two thirds of those in the UK.

Today’s society expect information to always be at their fingertips, whether they are sitting in front of the TV at home, at their desks at work, or on the move. Apps for sporting events have grown in popularity over the last two years, with both Wimbledon and Euro 2016 offering mobile content to give users instant updates on the latest results, statistics and match highlights. Euro 2016 experienced some difficulties this year, with the security of user’s data coming into question, something that hopefully Rio 2016 has learned from. There are a lot of apps available, including the official Rio app which has been live for a number of weeks so that users can track the location of the torch ahead of the opening ceremony.

What remains to be seen is how the Olympics’ IT systems will cope with the demand for instant updates from information-hungry sports fans. Much of this lies in the cloud solution Rio has employed, provided by Atos.

Atos’s cloud solution will not only have to send results around the city as soon as they are announced, but also around the globe within half a second. It will also need to deliver detailed event and athlete information to users on the multiple devices used by spectators, commentators, coaches, athletes and news services.

Delivering a resilient, highly available cloud solution for the Games is no small challenge, but Atos is confident that the IT delivery for the Rio Games will be the most successful ever, even with the exponential increase in demand for information. The company has been testing its IT systems for 200,000 hours prior to the Games to ensure that everything runs smoothly.

Richard Gardner, Cloud Solutions Architect at Six Degrees Group, comments: “For large peak event such as the Olympics, two things stand out – scaling on demand and content delivery. Scaling on demand works by automatically increasing your horsepower as the workload increases, and decreasing once the workload dissipates, meaning customers get a great experience without your revenues paying the price. Content delivery is the art of making sure content is close to customers – global load balancing and content delivery nodes help users to get content in the fastest time by locating the closest node which is specially designed to push content as fast as it can to browsers. Crucially, cloud technology helps you do both of these things without the capital expenditure or long lead times to delivery.”

Using a cloud solution gives the Games scalability, resilience, and high availability, all of which are vitally important for large scale, high profile, data and information heavy events such as the Olympics.

All of this behind the scenes activity will hopefully take place without anyone noticing, so we can all enjoy the ‘greatest show on earth’.

Campbell Williams, Director of Strategy and Marketing at Six Degrees Group

Image Credit: Everything Possible / Shutterstock