One-year countdown to Olympics begins

With 365 days to go before the mega sporting event opens on Aug. 8 next year, preparation work on the IT infrastructure enters critical testing phase.
Written by Lynn Tan @ Redhat, Contributor

The one-year countdown for the Beijing 2008 Olympics begins today, along with the next phase of implementation involving a series of critical tests on the IT infrastructure that will support the mega sporting event when it opens.

Coined "Good Luck Beijing", the critical testing phase--which is scheduled to end in June 2008--consists of 42 sporting competitions, including 14 top-level international events. This initiative will involve the testing of all aspects of hardware equipment to be used during the actual sporting event, said Lenovo in a statement.

The Chinese PC maker added that the "arduous year-long process" will ensure the IT systems are ready for the actual Olympic Games next year. "Tests will end only weeks before the opening ceremony", Lenovo said, which will kick off on Aug. 8, 2008.

The hardware vendor supplies computing equipment deployed for the Beijing Olympics, and its foray into the Olympics began February 2006 during the winter games in Turin, Italy.

Lenovo announced last week that it has completed its "third massive hardware delivery" to the Integration Test Center, managed by the Beijing Organizing Committee for the Games of the XXIX Olympiad (BOCOG). The shipment encompassed more than 3,500 pieces of computing equipment, including servers, desktops, monitors and notebook computers.

This brings the accumulated count of hardware shipped, to date, to over 8,200 pieces of IT equipment, including 242 servers, 140 server racks, 2,375 desktop computers and 141 notebook computers, Lenovo told ZDNet Asia in an e-mail interview.

Together, the equipment will power 56 Olympic venues--including 39 competition venues and 17 data centers and BOCOG centers--across seven cities in China, the company said. Computing systems supporting the Games will be tested at 42 separate events, including World Cup qualifying matches, the Beijing International Marathon and international tennis events, Lenovo said.

According to the PC maker, some 14,000 pieces of computing equipment will be provided for the Games when the final delivery to the sporting event is completed in 2008. A team of 150 engineers and support staff from Lenovo will also be working "in concert with various partners to ensure complete preparedness for the test events" at Good Luck Beijing.

The company noted that at the same point in the lead-up to the Torino 2006 Olympic Winter Games, Lenovo only needed to commit about a third of the number of products and technicians. In comparison, when the Beijing Games begins next year, the number of Lenovo technicians and engineers working on-site at the BOCOG will reach nearly 400, and will include a core team of more than 10 staff members with experience from the Torino 2006 Olympic Winter Games.

"The upcoming tests are in effect a full rehearsal for the 2008 Games, ensuring the reliability of the hardware that forms the Games' computing backbone," said Yang Yichun, the BOCOG's technology director. He noted that Lenovo's high-performance equipment and technical expertise gained from the Torino Games will be valuable at next year's Games.

Alice Li, Lenovo's vice president of Olympic marketing, said in a statement: "After years of preparation and planning, the testing phase is vital because implementation of the Games' computer infrastructure will take place literally overnight."

"We have worked with the BOCOG to put together Lenovo systems that meet the specific requirements of this complex system, and we are ready to see them in action," Li said.

She noted that the company's SureServers, for instance, will be "responsible for handling hundreds of thousands of requests per second for everything, from athlete biographical information to the latest scores, to organizing BOCOG activities".

In addition, a large number of software applications will be deployed to support various processes during the Games next year, including Games Management Systems, staffing and scheduling, accreditation, transportation, sports entries and qualifications, timing and scoring, and ticketing, Lenovo said.

According to the PC maker, many of these systems will need to be duplicated in seven different cities--Beijing, Hong Kong, Dalian, Qingdao, Tianjin, Qinhuangdao and Shanghai--with tools in place to provide remote management of all venues.

Last month, Atos Origin announced they were on track to complete implementation work for the IT system architecture to be deployed at the Olympic Games 2008. Atos Origin is the appointed partner to design, build and operate the IT infrastructure for the Games in Beijing.

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