We Know it Took a Lot to Build an Olympic-sized Network, But Did Everything Go as Planned?

We Know it Took a Lot to Build an Olympic-sized Network, But Did Everything Go as Planned?

March 10

As you may recall, just as the Sochi Olympics began, we had a look at what it takes to build a communications network of Olympic proportions. With the Sochi Olympics over, we once again asked Avaya’s networking folks to give us their take on what ended up happening with the robust network solution they implemented for the short event.

Here are excerpts from an emailed response.

Recovery Zone: Did everything turn out with wireless networks like you had planned?

Avaya: Yes – we were delighted with the overall performance of the network. Avaya provided both the wired and Wi-Fi environments for the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games to provide network connectivity services for the Olympic Family as well as the media. As the environment had been very well tested in advance, and due to previous Games experience, there wasn’t anything that was unexpected, despite the greenfield nature of the site, which meant the communications infrastructure was installed alongside brand new buildings, roads and services – and the fact that 40,000 unknown guest users all show up on day one of the event!

RZ: If you had any unexpected issues, were they easy or difficult to resolve?

Avaya: We are happy to report that throughout the entire duration of the event we did not experience any “severity 1 or severity 2” incidences – i.e those which may be caused by some kind of communications infrastructure issue or failure. It was a flawless performance from an IT perspective.

In terms of unexpected issues, the warm weather in Sochi made the threat of exposed fibers in the alpine venues a concern; however, each venue was architected with fiber diversity/redundancy with the ability for each venue to operate independently in the unlikely event of a dual fiber cut. And despite the traffic load we placed on the network – including 36 channels of HD IPTV running across the various Olympic venues – we had scaled the deployment to the extent that bandwidth concerns were not an issue.

RZ: Will Avaya manage the wireless infrastructure going forward or are there different plans? 

Avaya: Each Games requires a competitive bidding process, as effectively the franchise for running each Games is allocated to a new Organizing Committee in the host city.  We are already in discussions around the support we might be able to provide to the Olympic family for the next Winter Games in Pyeongchang, Korea in 2018.

RZ: What lessons will you take with you for the next time you have to do this?

Avaya: What we have learned through our experience with the Olympic Winter Games is the importance of testing. We simulated the complete Sochi network environment in our labs in Santa Clara, Calif. and pushed it to its limits to ensure that whatever was thrown at us from a capacity, number of devices perspective that we would be able to handle it – and handle it flawlessly.

With the Games being only 17 days long – and the majority of guests arriving the day of the Opening Ceremonies – there is little to no time to fine-tune the network. Simulating the environment and pre-testing is critical to success for an event such as this.

Sochi was also the first Games to deploy virtualised networks, with multiple separate virtual networks supporting different elements of Games activity running over the same physical infrastructure. This radically simplified the deployment for the Sochi Organizing Committee, and significantly reduced the costs and man hours required in network build out. The virtual fabric we deployed in Sochi is certainly something we would look to expand still further in Pyeongchang if we are selected to do so.

Photo Credit: Rune T via Compfight cc