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AI World Conference & Expo · Boston, MA · December 11-13, 2017

This syndicated post originally appeared at Zeus Kerravala's blog.

The summer Olympics in London kick off with the opening ceremonies this Friday, and this year’s games will be different than the Beijing Games for a number of reasons. Back in 2008, smartphones were a rarity, “iPad” wasn’t a word heard outside of Apple, and Facebook was something just a few college kids used. This year’s Olympics is expected to attract about 4 million spectators, more than 15,000 Olympic and Paralympic athletes and countless members of the media covering the event.

Needless to say, high-quality, continuously available communications is an absolute must for the 2012 Olympic games, as the use of Twitter, Facebook, Skype, VoIP, Video and other communication services will be at an all-time high. Solving such a challenge is as difficult as beating Usain Bolt in the 100m sprint, as the network capacity is expected to be 7-10 times that of the last summer Olympic games. This is the task placed upon British Telecom (BT).

To meet this challenge, BT, the London Olympics’ official communications partner, installed a cloud-based UC&C solution to connect all 25 of the Olympic sites, as well as providing coverage for the almost 100 game venues. BT has been required to provision 18,000 end points for the London Organizing Committee (LOCOG), along with a range of UC&C infrastructure, and will be required to provide rapid change management for those end points and services during the course of the games. Just as important, after the games, BT will be required to just as rapidly un-provision all of the devices and infrastructure, so that the cloud platform can be re-allocated to various non-profit organizations.

BT is providing the latest UC&C tools, including VoIP, WebEx conferencing, specific XML applications, unified messaging, presence, network access and other collaboration tools to the media, athletes and Olympic delegates. As most of you would know, this is not a trivial task – to activate a suite of UC services across 18,000 end points consistently and within a very tight window of time.

To enable this state-of-the-art infrastructure, BT chose to partner with Cisco and VOSS Solutions. The cloud-based UC&C infrastructure is built on Cisco’s Hosted Communications Solution (HCS), which is designed for large, complex enterprise deployments that require dedicated or shared multi-tenant capabilities. VOSS is integral to the solution, providing integrated management and automated service fulfillment capabilities.

Cisco HCS gives BT the ability to provide the rich UC&C services to all of the designated Olympic users, with minimal premise equipment, as the HCS infrastructure is located in BT’s own data center. This demonstrates some of the inherent values of cloud-based communications – rapid provisioning, highly scalable services and ubiquitous access. Cisco HCS will enable a number of rich set of communication and collaboration features to LOCOG. The cloud-based services will range from basic voice capabilities such as voicemail and on-net calling to rich collaboration features such as web conferencing, presence and video services.

The VOSS service fulfillment and support system is the “command and control” center for BT’s cloud solution. Without a system like VOSS, BT would have required an army of engineers to configure the 18,000 end-points and collaboration services in the allotted time window. That army might be possible in China, but getting that skilled resource level available in London would have been impossible. VOSS provides the following capabilities to BT and LOCOG:

  • Speed – BT was able to create an automated “production line” to rapidly deliver the infrastructure, end-points and services, all with a highly customized LOCOG dial plan.
  • Accuracy –The platform was configured in a highly consistent and accurate manner. There was very low risk of human error in the actual configuration process.
  • Ease of Use – The BT NOC has central control of the entire cloud platform and is able to make rapid changes anywhere on the network without having to access the underlying network infrastructure.
  • Flexibility – BT was able to not only pre-test the LOCOG design in their reference labs, any last minute requirements (can you imagine there not being some of those?) can be implemented rapidly across the network. 

By using Cisco and VOSS as communications partners, BT should be able to offer an outstanding experience to anyone connected to the Olympic network. Now that the UC&C is enabled…let the games begin!

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Zeus Kerravala

Zeus Kerravala is the founder and principal analyst with ZK Research. Kerravala provides a mix of tactical advice to help his clients in the current business climate and long term strategic advice.
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