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Avaya Scores with Convergence Solutions for the FIFA Women's World Cup

Converged communications solutions promise greater flexibility and simpler installations, but implementing a solution is especially challenging when it must be up and running in 93 days. Following the SARS outbreak in Asia this year, the Federation Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) decided to move the 2003 Women’s World Cup from China to the United States only months before the tournament.
Written by Sandra Palumbo, Contributor

Converged communications solutions promise greater flexibility and simpler installations, but implementing a solution is especially challenging when it must be up and running in 93 days. Following the SARS outbreak in Asia this year, the Federation Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) decided to move the 2003 Women’s World Cup from China to the United States only months before the tournament. For two years, FIFA and its technology partners had planned the event; now the solutions had to be completely redesigned for the United States.

As the communications provider for the event, Avaya had just weeks to design, build and implement the new solution, including working with 20 other vendors and service providers. A month before the opening, approximately 10,000 pounds of network equipment had to be configured, tested, staged and transported to various locations. This equipment made up communications networks that enabled organizers to manage the tournament; report match statistics and tournament information; accredit players, staff and volunteers; and support the media covering the tournament.

The flexibility of wireless networks such as Wi-Fi and the simplicity of IP solutions made this possible. If Avaya faced this challenge a few years ago, it would have been costly, error prone, and difficult to accomplish.

The Solution
FIFA quickly needed a highly flexible solution so users could access the network with either wireless or wireline technologies. It was critical that FIFA employees work from the various tournament venues. Escalating the challenge for Avaya, the company had to turn off its network during NFL games in some of the tournament stadiums.

Avaya designed a wireless, IP voice and data network to support phones, PCs and other devices without requiring costly, disruptive and labor-intensive wiring. The nationwide architecture linked six stadiums across the United States, the event headquarters in California, and systems in New York and Switzerland. Avaya needed to ensure the security and performance on all networks.

The Approach
Avaya used several new offerings, including network switches and data products, wireless LANs, IP telephony systems, VPNs, security gateways and network management technologies. Avaya’s network architecture also integrated existing equipment from vendors and partners.

Avaya Security Gateways provided secure remote access and allowed remote monitoring of the network. VPNmanager software established and managed security policies, and Wireless Outdoor Routing System protected wireless traffic through 64-bit Wired Equivalent Privacy (WEP) protocol and 128-bit RC4 encryption. All the wireless endpoints used VPNremote Client for authentication. It encrypted all converged voice calls traveling between telephones, other access devices and the network switch.

A team of network managers monitored the system using VPN connections established on secure gateways that integrated a secure perimeter firewall with VPN functionality. Through the gateway, engineers monitored network performance and resolved problems remotely, ensuring peak performance throughout the event.

Critical Success Factors

  • Integration of wireless and wireline services: Avaya’s architecture provided FIFA staff, journalists, players and team managers access to critical information from a variety of devices, including wireless-enabled PCs, IP phones and mobile phones.
  • Integration of legacy systems with converged IP solutions: FIFA required integration of new technologies with existing equipment and services. Interoperability with legacy systems was critical to deploy the systems in time; rewiring hotels and stadiums would have been impossible.
  • Flexibility: Given the deadline and diverse use of the network, a converged IP architecture provided a flexible solution that circumvented the locations’ limitations. It offered users a choice of access devices, enabling them to work from anywhere.
  • Security: Security was critical. The solution allowed for a variety of access types, as well as converged voice and data traffic. Avaya implemented authentication and encryption technologies to manage logical network security and to verify identities and credentials for FIFA’s physical security procedures.
  • Efficiency: The converged IP architecture and flexible access points provided increased communications efficiency. For a time-sensitive, limited event, efficiency and flexibility were critical, because many of the system’s functions were conducted in real time.
The Value
Avaya’s converged solution gave FIFA the required infrastructure very quickly and provided the communications functions and information access necessary to host a world-class event. Using a traditional TDM solution (that lacked integration with VPN and wireless services) would not return the operational benefit of the integrated IP-based solution provided, because of:
  • Legacy integration: It integrated advanced communications capabilities with established systems and networks, minimizing interoperability issues and reducing integration costs.
  • Enhanced applications: It integrated security systems, providing a cost-effective, real-time tool to ensure physical security at each venue.
  • Reliability: Avaya provided stable, reliable access to systems throughout the United States and Europe.
  • Cost effective: It simplified moves, adds and changes; reduced cabling and infrastructure costs; and created a common management infrastructure.
Convergence allows businesses to leverage existing and new networks to achieve business objectives. Avaya’s solution was an excellent choice, particularly for a temporary architecture needed immediately. Among many options, Avaya’s solution best met FIFA’s urgent needs and provided the greatest flexibility and functionality.

Enterprise Recommendations

  • Conduct a pilot implementation. Most clients don’t face FIFA’s aggressive timetable. Financially, it’s worth testing the flexibility and benefits of an integrated wireless and wireline solution. We recommend piloting an integrated IP telephony, VPN and wireless solution for a workgroup of mobile and communications-intensive employees. A pilot scenario enables the enterprise to determine security levels, service levels and the performance of vendors and service providers. A network manager can use a small, initial implementation to benchmark operational processes and metrics.
  • Work with companies with a demonstrated history of integrating solutions. Converged solutions are complex—they introduce new implementation and operational issues that tax all but the most sophisticated IT staff. FIFA’s network was functional in 93 days because it enabled a partner to develop a custom solution. The existing infrastructure varied in age, functionality, capacity and interoperability, so the implementation team had to make changes on-site to get the entire network operational swiftly. Vendors that are too rigid in their offerings or implementations are not providing solutions to problems—instead, they could cause bigger problems.
  • Consider managed network service. Even if an enterprise is reluctant to use a managed service for the monitoring, management and maintenance of its network, in emergency instances (or when implementing a new solution), a basic level of managed service may be needed to ensure continuity and success in the short term (or even long term). Some level of management is inherent in IP solutions, making a more complete managed solution worthy of consideration.
The Yankee Group originally published this article on 17 November 2003.

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