How IT Keeps The Game Going

by Sohini Bagchi    Jan 13, 2014

Milind Kamatatos

As Worldwide IT Partner of the Olympic & Paralympic Games, Atos leads the technology effort for the staging of the upcoming Sochi 2014 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games to be held in Russia from February 6, 2014.In an exclusive interaction with CXOtoday,Milind Kamat, EVP & CEO, Atos India explains the key role IT is playing to keep the Games up and running.

You have been the tech partner for London Olympics in 2012.  What difference do you see in the tech usage and deployment in this Olympics?

Each Games is different in terms of the culture and people. Winter games are generally challenging because of the extreme weather conditions. For Sochi 2014, technology will further improve access to information. The technologies that we are introducing for the first time and will shape the Games for this Olympics include BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) - Anywhere, anyhow, any place – the ‘Info’ service (the Olympic intranet) that will be delivered over mobile platform for the first time. Second one would be Electronic access control for Olympic family and all spectators which will also make a debut and finally, CIS (the Commentator Information System) will also be available for the first time for all 5 Paralympic Winter Games sports. 

 Can you please explain the nature of the project you are handling?

 Every two years in a new territory, we are there, bringing the Olympic Games IT to the world. With over 200,000 people, from athletes to media to other Olympic family members, that need to be accredited, with 3 billion viewers, operating in a 24×7 environment, we have to prepare for such high visible and complex project several months in advance. By this year end, Atos will manage a technology system consisting of 400 servers, 500 security and network devices and 5,600 computers. We provide near real-time information to 9500 accredited media and broadcasters. We deliver over 200 000 accreditations we perform over 100 000 hours of testing, and Atos integrate around 3000 technology specialists to deliver and support the Technology solution.

In other words, the project demands us to handle the Games management systems  to support the planning and operations of the games and Information diffusions systems, to deliver real-times result top the media and participants. We are expected to offer seamless integration, project management, design, testing and security of games IT systems and handle the overall operations, implement and manage the infrastructure and systems during the games.

 What are the key IT challenges in the Olympics Games and how do you plan to tackle them?

 Since we work in an highly complex environment, mission-and time-critical program that involves many participants and stakeholders, the secret to success is building upon a strong team that are demonstrated by those athletes competing for gold in the team events. Therefore to us, working effectively as a team is not only a win-win proposition; it’s a vital part of our culture. The idea is to overcome the challenges involving people, projects, processes and IT for the Olympic Games and the success in implementing large scale and multi-vendor projects for businesses operating anywhere in the world. From each Olympic Games we learn valuable lessons for the next. In fact, success of each Olympic Games relies and depends on knowledge and experience being transferred from previous Games. It also helps to keep costs down and to lower risk. We have developed a comprehensive knowledge management processes and methodologies as well as a portal to enable information to be shared within the Olympic IT teams as best practice.

Please tell us about the future technologies and their impact on the Olympic Games?

 We see that the rise of mobility further will increase. More rich, real-time content needs to be available on an anytime, anywhere, any device basis. And cloud will also play its role for the Games. As an event that happens only once every two years, in a different location every time, which needs a huge computing infrastructure and generates a huge peaks of data, the Olympic Games are a perfect fit for cloud computing. And in future it might be more and more. The approach to the Cloud was still conservative as a lot of the big technology decisions were taken back in 2010 for the Sochi 2014 Games, when the market for Cloud was not as mature. However, moving forward, more and more will be delivered over the cloud, providing more efficiency, agility and productivity. It’s inevitable that we will see Games systems deployed over the Cloud in the future. Moreover, advances in virtual imaging, timing, broadcasting, and social media are all changing how we watch the Games.