I couldn't resist this opportunity to discuss high availability, speed to root cause, speed to restoration, security and mission critical services. We sit on the eve of the largest single sporting event that comes around only every 4 years and the recent headlines are, "Twitter Down 2012: Service Out for Users Throughout the World". I scratched my head wondering how this would look on the London skyline, literally as the London Eye conveys the Sentiment with Twitteras the gauge of status with color and intensity for all to see?
The Olympic folks have great challenges and they differ with each event. You might think that they could create a playbook and just re-use it for each event. This is a prime example of how quickly technology has changed since the last event and how that provides both great opportunity and new challenges for the Olympics IT team. For example, Smartphones were just surfacing in 2008. Data networks were in high use and Social Media sites were gaining in popularity, but streaming video over handheld mobile phones and tablets were just emerging. Fast forward to 2012, now we have and expect real-time, streaming rich content on many devices regardless of where we are, based merely on who we are and our access rights to services we subscribe to. See the below
Infographic by- GO-Gulf.com Web Design Company on Smartphones, to see what I mean.
This is just one of many technological advances that has arrived since the last Olympic events in 2008. The folks running IT for the Olympics have been testing and preparing for quite some time to insure availability and access to content as they discussed in a recent CIO article, "Olympics Website Leans on Open Source, Akamai for Winning Results".
Availability is one important aspect and security is another. Atos Origin used Sentinel to aggregate information from 3,000 systems and devices and correlate data on potential security threats, which helped safeguard the 2010 Youth Olympic Games. Vladan Todorovic, Technical & IT Security Manager, Youth Olympic Games, said "During the operational period of the Games there were more than 90 million security events. Using intelligent processing in our SIEM, this was reduced to only three million events for review, which were prioritized according to the level of business risk they posed. This saved a lot of valuable time for the Incident Management team." Read full story.
Now think about all of the ancillary technology partners, service providers, etc. that will be counting on high availability starting with Twitter for up to the minute reactions. Just to name a few accounts: @olympics, @NBCOlympics, @London2012, @USOlympic, @youtholympics, @CDNOlympicTeam, @LO2012, @CTVOlympics... the list is endless. As I linked to above, the London Eye will be lit up based upon current sentiment in Twitter, it's not just text chatter around the globe any longer. Now you may think Twitter is just noise and something for the kids to text and share, but it is not. It is used during world tragedies to send out information, it has become a dependency within business for marketing and communicating with customers, it is now a tool to share global viewpoints, etc. Twitter being unavailable during the Olympics over the next 3 weeks will be highly visible and center stage when we should be speaking of the athletes and the events. It should be in the background enhancing the experience, not diverting the focus from those who have trained so hard to compete.
One other example of dependency will be internet based television. Another technology that has grown widely since the last Olympic games. Service providers now have competition in every region of the world and quality of service is mission critical as we, the consumer, can switch and carry our phone, internet and television with us. KPN, the leading Telecommunications and ICT Service Provider in the Netherlands, knows to successfully deliver true high-definition television, on-demand video services, and time-shift capabilities, KPN iTV had to make sure its services would give consumers a superb viewing experience. Willem Haumerssen, National Operations Centre Manager, KPN iTV says "Operations Center is helping us to visualise, in real time, how our ICT environment is performing against our business objectives." Read full story here and watch the video here.
Like the London Eye will do over the next 3 weeks, we use color for state in Operations Center everyday to discern the difference between severity (system down) and priority (the whole world cannot access the service) and shades of blue, yellow, orange, etc. in between to alert proactively of increasing risk of an impending service impacting event so as to avoid, load balance, divert, etc. When an outage does occur, the cause is pinpointed and restoration occurs quickly, while others analyze cause and future resolution. Generally speaking, outages can be short as restoration can be speedy with the proper DR and root cause pinpointing in place. It's the finding the needle in the haystack without visibility or warning that is time and resource intensive. Think of it as a pilot flying blind without instruments. Not really the plane I want to ride in.
I also do not envy the Olympics IT team over the next 3 sleepless weeks. They certainly are presented opportunity to play with cool new toys, but the other side of that sword is extreme pressure to perform without skipping a beat. There will no doubt be hiccups, however, it is the grace under pressure where the hero's will shine with the rest of the world witnessing flawless execution.
I always look forward to the Olympics, gymnastics was my sport and continues to be my favorite. This highlights again, IT Transformation, or maybe Extreme Transformation, in action across many industries and providers all centered around a single sporting event. I hope that we are using technology to enhance the events and focus on the athletes and events that they have prepared a life time for to compete with technology and all of the ancillary service providers remaining in the background for a safe and successful event.
As they say in the UK, Cheers, here's to the @Olympics!
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Jul 27 2012, 01:54 PM
Filed under: dashboards, performance, Systems Management, NetIQ, IT management, Availability, security, Twitter, CIO, BSM, Business Service Management, Live Dashboards, Operations Center, WorkloadIQ, Smartphones, Tablets, Quality of Service, IT, Business Services, Load Balancer, High Availability, NOC, Outage, IT Transformation, Michele Hudnall, DR, Olympics, London, KPN, Sentinel, iTV, London Eye, Atos Origin, SIEM, Data Center Solutions