Cisco has been involved for over three years, working closely with our technology partners, BT and Atos in their roles as Communications Systems Partner and Global IT Partner implementing Cisco infrastructure
BANGALORE, INDIA: Ian Foddering, CTO, Cisco UK, in an e-mail interaction with Deepa Damodaran of CIOL, details how the company was catering to the networking needs at the London Olympics 2012 Venue. Excerpts:
CIOL: Can you provide us the details of the network infrastructure that was installed at the Olympics venue for voice, video and data traffic?
Ian Foddering: London 2012 was the most connected Games in history due to the explosive growth of smart-phones and tablet devices since Beijing 2008.
As the Official Network Infrastructure provider to the London 2012 Olympic and Paraolympic Games, Cisco’s network infrastructure supported the delivery of the voice, video and data traffic for London 2012, which was carried over BT’s communications network to the thousands of people running, reporting, competing in or enjoying the Games.
In addition to this, BT also used Cisco Wi-Fi access points and Wireless LAN Controllers to be able to offer rate card and internet services to this large community of eager users during the games.
There were primarily three requirements all running over the network infrastructure:
The ‘Office Admin’ LAN - This is the platform designed, tested, implemented and operated by BT, for the organizing company (LOCOG) to run the administrative function of preparing for the London 2012 Games.
It includes e-mail, calendaring, document sharing, bespoke web-portals and printing. It also supports wireless guest access and the IP Telephony system supplied by BT.
The ‘Games LAN’ - This is the mission critical network infrastructure. It provides information for television commentators and on-screen graphics. This network is designed, tested and operated by Atos Origin and installed and maintained by BT.
The ‘Rate Card’ Services - This is a catalogue of available services that can be ordered from LOCOG by accredited organizations such as broadcasters, press, international sporting federations, Olympic Committees and sponsors. Most commonly this is to provide internet access, but more complex internal networks can be created. These services are designed, tested, provisioned & maintained by BT.
In terms of network infrastructure, Cisco used equipment that has been successful in mission critical environments for many of our largest customers worldwide and which also was used in similar Cisco projects such as the 2010 FIFA World Cup.
CIOL: How many months did it take to build this network? How large is the team? How much was the investment?
Ian Foddering: Cisco has been involved for over three years, working closely with our technology partners, BT and Atos in their roles as Communications Systems Partner and Global IT Partner implementing Cisco infrastructure to nearly 100 locations, including 36 competition venues, 20 further venues such as the Olympic Village and operations centre, and approximately 50 other spectator and athlete sites including transport hubs, training grounds and ticketing booths.
Over the three years the team has grown from a core team of five to a team of over 200 people, with 30 network engineers working alongside Atos and BT providing 24 by 7 support during the Olympic and Paralympic games.
CIOL: How many people, on an average, were using the network on any given day?
Ian Foddering: We had deployed 1800 wireless access points, 16,500 IP telephones, 65,000 active connections and 80,000 data ports during the games and nearly 205 National Olympic Committees, 6,000 LOCOG employees, 21,800 athletes and team officials and 22,000 media personnel were using Cisco's network in one way or another.
The network is equipped to handle 60GB of data per second.
CIOL: What were the challenges?
Ian Foddering: The scale of the challenge can be illustrated in terms of the number of stakeholders the network infrastructure.
Architecture has to enable and support. However, this is a situation Cisco is very familiar with where we successfully work in Partnership with organizations on a daily basis to deliver solutions. Equally, LOCOG (London Organizing Committee of the Olympic and Paralympics Games) stated that the technology deployed had to have a two-year provide track record, so the networking infrastructure is very familiar and a known quantity.
CIOL: Did you deploy any new technologies at the Olympics?
Ian Foddering: Although, as mentioned previously, the technology we deployed had to have a two year provide track record, there were still some firsts for the Olympics in terms of elements of the infrastructure that were deployed.
It was for example the first time that cloud technology had been used. This took the form of BT 'One Cloud' solution providing over 16,500 Cisco IP telephony handsets, together with Cisco WebEx for audio conferencing and desktop sharing and e-mail security deployed in the shape of Cisco Ironport.
CIOL: How were you catering to the bandwidth and security needs?
Ian Foddering: Cisco Virtual Switching System (VSS) provides a network infrastructure virtualization service that logically consolidates multiple Cisco Catalyst 6500 Series Switches over a Virtual Switch Link (VSL) into one virtual switch. This increases operational efficiency, boosting non-stop communications, and can scale system bandwidth capacity to multiple terabits per second (Tbps), if required.
The security of the network was a top priority and the network infrastructure provided included Cisco ASA series Firewalls, Intrusion Detection and Prevention systems, which prevent unauthorized access and detect malicious attack signatures, plus the Cisco Ironport Email security solution, which combines anti-virus, anti-spam and policy enforcement capabilities.