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Fifa in race to finish World Cup IT

Late finish of German football season poses installation challenge
Written by Andy McCue, Contributor

Late finish of German football season poses installation challenge

Fifa will have less than a month to install the entire IT network into all the football stadiums for the World Cup tournament this summer due to the late finish of the German football season.

The late finish of the Bundesliga in May means Fifa's main supplier Avaya has had to build the IT network first in its labs in Frankfurt ahead of being able to install it in the stadiums.

Doug Gardner, MD of Avaya's Fifa World Cup programme, told silicon.com: "The Bundesliga finishing so late has been a challenge. I would have liked another month to six weeks."

But he insisted the IT network will be ready on time with Avaya spending the rest of March and early April "testing the hell out of it", including penetration testing to ensure that hackers or viruses won't be able to breach the system.

Fifa will do integration testing between 4 and 10 April to check that its own applications, which will handle everything from tournament accreditation, accommodation, transport to logistics and match results and information for the media, run over the network without any problems.

Gardner said that once Fifa gives it the thumbs-up, his team in Frankfurt will pull the labs apart and shut all the equipment in the racks it is going to be installed in at the football stadiums. Avaya will then use UPS Germany's special delivery service for fragile computer equipment and will be ready to start installing in the stadiums from 5 May in time for the start of the tournament on 9 June.

The IT equipment will be placed strategically around each stadium to ensure that a fire or other incident in one part of the ground doesn't take the whole network down.

Gardner said: "We will recable it, plug all the cables in, plug into the WAN, test it to make sure nothing has been damaged in transit - all in three to four weeks."

Once the IT network has been installed in the stadiums there will be another round of penetration testing to make sure all the ports are locked down.

Gardner admitted there was a major attempt to breach the IT network before the opening match in the World Cup in Korea and Japan in 2002 but said one of the main threats is people unintentionally logging onto the network with viruses on their PC or laptop rather than anything malicious.

But with Fifa demanding 99.99 per cent network availability during the World Cup tournament there is undoubtedly a huge amount of pressure on the performance of the IT network.

He said: "The whole world is watching. There is no room for error."

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