How Cisco is Weathering the London Olympics
Each time I get a push notification on my phone from my handy dandy NBC Olympic app I think about Cisco and I’m astounded by the ever-changing technology that surrounds us. They are calling it the Digital Olympics in London, and there’s good reason to do so. In the palm of my hand I can see minute to minute updates of the latest in breaking Olympic news, videos, photos, medal counts, athlete bios, and wait… yes, even watch my favorite (swimming – Go Phelps!) Olympic events live! And while I may be cozily sitting in my office watching the Olympics on my phone – ah, I mean working… there are many “Cisco-ians” fast at work making it all possible in London.
Back in May we posted a blog about Cisco being a proud supporter and network infrastructure provider for the Olympic and Paralympic Games – Cisco Raises the Roof at the 2012 Summer Olympics. With the games underway the years of detailed planning and excruciating work are being put to the test.
Cisco is working around the clock making sure the Olympics come off without a glitch. And with the Olympics nearly at their halfway point they seem to be doing a fine job! For example, they have successfully connected nearly 100 different locations across the UK into one virtual Games venue while managing the network traffic of 200,000 visitors and media personnel via 1,800 wireless access points.
In fact, Neil Crockett, managing director for London 2012 at Cisco Systems said, “The IT systems for London 2012 will process 30% more information than any other Games in history and Cisco networking is at the heart of it!” And speaking of history, here’s an awesome infographic created to show the evolution of communications at the Olympic Games called, “London Calling: Mobility & the Olympic Games.” In the beginning there were birds, pigeons in fact, that did all the communicating about the ins and outs of the Olympics. Now we can instantaneously watch the games from our iPad while laying on the beach thousands of miles away… something that wasn’t even possible just 4 short years ago from Beijing! In fact, Cisco's network will be transmitting 60 GB/sec, or the equivalent of 60,000 novels or the entire content of Wikipedia every 0.5 seconds.
Cisco had the challenge of predicting how technology would evolve over the past four years so that they would be able to provide the necessary infrastructure to handle it. It has taken them 4 years of preparation, 200,000 hours of testing and two extensive technical rehearsals to make it all happen. And by the way, “making it all happen” includes:
- 30,000 connections across 94 locations
- 2,200 switches
- 1,800 wireless access points
- 7,000 cable TV sockets
- 16,500 IP telephones
- 65,000 active network ports (active connections)
- 80,000 data ports
- 40GB of data per second
As far as preparation goes, Cisco has gone above and beyond making sure there’s reliability, redundancy, and security surrounding the Olympic network. "Our biggest technology focus is security – we have firewalls that process several gigabytes of information at any one time, to those running in distributed mode at individual venues, as well as intrusion prevention system (IPS) devices," said the head of the Cisco Olympic team. Also, rather than using Cisco’s latest technology they opted for their tried and tested Cisco 6500 switches that have been on the market for 10 years. The same switches they used in Sydney and the 2010 Fifa World Cup. They also have 3,750 edge switches that connect laptops and IP phones at the venues. Cisco estimated that the total traffic will be no more than 10GB of throughput at any one time, but they can support up to 80GB so even if half the switches go down at one time, they would still have 4 times the bandwidth needed. And to top it all off, all the switches, routers, access points and other devices in use will have spares available for use throughout the course of the games, with 24x7 replacement contracts in place.
Cisco was able to dream big preparing for these Olympics and their mantra seems to align with Michael Phelps when he said, "You can't put a limit on anything. The more you dream, the farther you get". All their hard work and preparation are paying off as the Olympics seamlessly reach the world in any number of digital formats around the globe. From their Cisco House that we spoke of in our last article to the wifi spots for the local Olympic attendees, Cisco seems to be an ever-present part of making 2012 Olympics the most digital Olympics yet.
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