Cloudy Olympic Games – The art of zero down time


Posted on: February 12, 2014 by Paul Albada Jelgersma

Most companies in the world are now very comfortable to discuss the use of cloud computing for strategic IT functions. Most conversations between users and providers nowadays focus more on cloud aspects such as security, data privacy and information management regulations.

But what happens if you add zero-tolerance for a down time into the mix? This is the question that the organizing committee of the Olympic Games faces and is obviously a subject for conversation when you discuss the IT for the Olympics.

Obviously not only for this event; zero downtime is also important in circumstances related to healthcare, transport; and what to think about going into space? All of them situations where we do not want the machines and information processing to halt, even for a second.

Even more interesting is the expectation of users, as downtime is now no longer seen as an inconvenience, it now has become a sign of weakness and a reason to take ‘your business elsewhere’.

No wonder that bringing cloud-enabled computing to the Olympic Games was carefully prepared and with 12 brand new events, such as the spectacular snowboard slopestyle, the size of the IT landscape increased beyond running a ‘simple’ computing environment.

Delivering zero-downtime

With these requirements, delivering zero-downtime for cloud computing focuses on 3 important elements:

  1. Resilience in the infrastructure; making sure that no hardware failure has an impact on the availability and capacity of the applications.
  2. Strong attention to change management; this can, for example, be done using the Canary Model as described in “Continuous Delivery: Reliable Software Releases through Build, Test, and Deployment Automation” by Jez Humble and David Farley
  3. Automation of all processes that monitor the cloud and act on unforeseen events, even quicker than any human might do this. Using DevOps as a starting point, this allows for a speedy migration of the virtual machines running core applications.

It is these types of methods, tools and technology that is now being deployed in cases where the availability of the applications, the continuous processing of data and the delivery of services, products and results become a 24 by 24 activity. That we can now do this using cloud computing, made it possible to decide for cloud computing also for events like the one we are watching now in Sochi.

For the millions and millions of viewers worldwide of the Olympic Games in Sochi 2014, this means that all athlete live results are now delivered to the cloud-based official website. A place that is visited by so many people and reflects the hopes, ambitions and aspiration of so many great athletes that downtime is not an option.

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About Paul Albada Jelgersma

Global Head Atos IoT Solutions and member of the Scientific Community
Paul has over 30 years of experience in running IT and business programs; including managing large teams of IT and other professionals. Paul is a founding member of the Atos Scientific Community. In his day job, he focusses on developing and delivering Internet of Things Solutions for our customers. Paul likes to work with Virtual Teams in the new way of work. He dislikes email as a chat and document-management tool. He occasionally writes articles and publishes at his own blog. Paul is married and has 2 children. He lives near Amsterdam, The Netherlands. He likes to travel, moderate hiking and watch Netflix series.

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