Olympics executive says cloud comes up short for 'mission critical' Games

Cloud computing won't win any gold medals—or silver or bronze, for that matter—at the London Summer Olympics because it's not yet mature enough for the "mission critical" application, Gerry Pennell, CIO of the London Organizing Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (LOCOG) said at a press event in London.

According to IT World Canada, which covered the event, Pennell believes "the infrastructure in the cloud is not sufficiently mature enough to support the kind of things we're doing at the Olympics. The applications aren't there, they're not written in the cloud (and) quite a big migration would be required to move particularly that core infrastructure into the cloud."

Telephony services for the Games are "entirely based on central platforms and delivered over the network (as) part of the legacy" that will then be used to support business customers when the Games are completed, he said.

To operate efficiently, the LOCOG is concentrating on integrating software so that data can be gathered in a central hub and sent to press agencies, uploaded to websites and used in mobile applications. This data measures athletes' performance, drives scoreboards and pushes TV graphics to broadcasters, he said. Where the appropriate data caching technology was available, Pennell said, "we've used it, but it's limited to those areas where it's tried and tested."

Similarly, he said, the data network is comprised of 110,000 pieces of equipment over an infrastructure that needs to be in place and reliable.

"At Games time, it's not acceptable for a typical corporate business service level to prevail. The model where you ring up a help desk and several days later you get a fix won't really work. We need the right support model provisioned locally and we need to make sure we have the right technological expertise on tap," he concluded, noting that he believes LOCOG is "in a pretty good place, but it's not over until it's over."

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