Can the London Games take down the cloud?

One of the finest achievements of any Olympics Games is the technological developments that are required to keep it functioning. These are the true legacy for each host city.This year, the London Olympics Committee used cloud computing muscle to simulate the predicted traffic that would hit its servers during the games. Engineers spent six months running scenarios of swarms and spikes against the official Olympic websites and mobile apps. SOASTA, an American company, employed the cloud power of Amazon EC2 and Microsoft Azure to simulate both patterns of individual users and business applications.

Cloud services have been able to instantly access a vast amount of virtual servers from anywhere on the globe.  SOASTA provided results to assured organizers that their servers would survive hits from up to 1 billion people over the 17 days that the games are scheduled.

What they didn’t count on was the opposite effect — that the Olympic Games might take down the cloud.

Last Thursday, July 26, the Dublin-based MicrosoftAzurecloudwentdown for about the length of the new Batman movie. No one yet knows why it went down during the France vs. U.S. soccer game, but Chris Leigh-Currill, CTO of Ospero, a European supplier of private cloud services, attributed the downtime to probably “a single point of failure in a network switch or other device.”

He laughed off any suggestion that a traffic spike could down the cloud itself.  He summed up, “Despite the British press’s tendency to see Olympic traffic in everything, I can’t imagine a large enough spike that would have affected the Dublin data center.”

Fleeing the games

Cloud resources are experiencing record demand from individuals and businesses beyond just those working in media and entertainment services. It must take an Olympian effort to ensure continuity in business operations during the games in London, given the density of round-the-clock communications. Meanwhile, local professionals are seeking security for themselves and their businesses by getting out of town.  The spiking demand for working remotely and online viewing has sucked demand for cloud resources. In fact, several remote office companies have published guides to help the intentionally displaced, such as the report by YourCityOffice: “How to Work and Watch the Olympics.”

Businesses and professionals who have tried remote working arrangements tend to keep those arrangements in place long after the triggering event.  Increased security for company data on the cloud and expanded flexibility for the workers drives the change from both ends.

The Brit’s silver lining

Once the games terminate, the cloud will assume a new significance in London. One section of the Olympic Park will become a hub for businesses featuring innovations in cloud computing.

iCITYwaschosen to oversee the Main Press Centre (MPC) and the International Broadcast Centre (IBC). They stated how their intention post-games is to develop the MPC into a higher education research site while the IBC will become an ‘Innovation City’ with a strong preference for cloud computing promoters. Olympic buildings were designed with the future in mind; some will be converted into apartment housing and a main stadium will have its top rows removed for better multi-purpose use after the games.

Given the challenges other cities have faced in recovering from the Olympics, cloud computing and Big Data could easily boost London’s previously poor East End economy for the coming decade and experts say it could take that long for the pixie dust to sparkle.