2012 Olympics – The “Network” – “worked”

The British are famous for being quite reserved, at times cynical and in the views of many not that good at celebrating success. However all of that changed a fortnight ago when London 2012 captivated the nation. In the worlds of Lord Coe “we did it right”, and how we did it right. But the countrywide euphoria and team GB success wasn’t the only high point, “the Network worked”.

I must admit that I hoped it would but still feared the worst. This was set to be the “Digital games” and at times I joined the many prophets of doom prior to the Olympics with forecasts of network slowdowns due to the volume of standard and high definition video expected across worldwide networks. But like “Y2K” and many of the previous “digital Armageddon’s” nothing untoward happened. The digital universe underpinned by the Internet and mobilised by the new wave of highly interactive mobile users, watched, snapped (digital photos), streamed (video, online content) and “shared” when they wanted to – how they wanted to.  And the Network just “worked”.

 The recent figures released from the BBC are compelling and surely throw down the gauntlet for the Olympics in Rio 2016. 

 http://www.bbc.co.uk/mediacentre/latestnews/2012/sport-online-figures.html

55m (global) and 37m (UK) browsers to the BBC Sport site in total across the Games (with the previous record for a single day was 7.4m global and 5.7m UK). And the records continued to tumble with 106m overall requests for BBC Olympic video content, more than double seen for any previous events. And let’s not forget our “on the movers” with 34% of the daily users mobile browsers with 12m requests for video from mobiles.  I cant end this BBC digital roundup without mentioning my daughters favourite, “the BBC Red Button” with 23.7m viewers to the 24 SD, HD and Freeview streams throughout the Games, and every single stream seeing at least 100,000 viewers. 

This leads me to a recent enlightening meeting with Jeremy Wallis the UK CTO of Netapp with discussions of the pervasiveness of 10Gb Ethernet as an enabler of simple, high performance storage connectivity. Checking back to the BBC figures, 2.8 petabytes of content was requested across the Olympics, with the peak traffic moment occurring when Bradley Wiggins won Gold with over 700 Gb/s. This is a sounding cry for those who forget to place storage and the network hand in hand.

Away from the anecdotes the hard numbers highlight the “network” took everything thrown at it across the Olympics period and more and just delivered. It even endorsed a working approach we have dabbled with from the earliest network “connected” environments – remote home & teleworking. Who can forget those empty central London streets and congestion free trains and UK PLC on mass where possible “working from home” (ok, maybe the park on a tablet computer). The remote access and corporate connectivity platforms seamlessly handled not just the existing corporate remote worker pool but also the short term “Olympic home worker” pool without a hiccup – surely heralding a new dawn in organisational approaches to redress the work life balance.

And what now, do we applaud gleefully the magical performance of global networks and shrink back into the “old way” of doing things. I suggest not, as the digital template delivered and embraced for the 2012 Olympics has surely proved the network is not only here to stay but is now a fundamental part of who we are.

Maybe those 70s and 80s SciFi films weren’t that far off the mark after all.

Until next time

Colin W

Twitter @colinwccuk

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About Colin Williams

Colin is Computacenter's Practice Leader for Networking, Visual Collaboration & Security @colinwccuk

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