The View From The Cloud At The Winter Olympics

Editorial By Andrew Elvish

Temperatures here in Montreal have once again settled into the low negative 30s. Rather than complain, we embrace the cold and head outside. And this year, it’s with the added benefit of getting ready for the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea. To be fair, we are not all Olympic athletes able to compete in bobsledding, skeleton, or moguls. But we do feel like winter sports are an essential part of our everyday lives. We feel personally connected with the event, and, for me, this extends to issues of security.

A few years ago, I had the opportunity to talk with Juliette Kayyem, a professor who teaches on homeland security at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. At the time, she said something that has stayed with me ever since: “If you want to have a perfectly safe Super Bowl, don’t have a Super Bowl.”

She was not advocating that we give up on security or big events. Rather, she was emphasizing that security is part of the equation for having the freedom to live a good life. We lose something if security takes over completely. The Olympics are an important part of our global lives. But we have to approach them carefully and with considerable preparation to ensure their continued success.

One of the ways these Olympics and the Paralympics that follow in South Korea will be different from past events is that they are the first to have all of their critical systems in the cloud. What is interesting for us is that this will allow organizers to manage security for the events and Olympic locations remotely.

A great way to facilitate collaboration:
Connecting venue and facility security systems through the Cloud gives security personnel the ability to collaborate with other teams and to monitor locations remotely. It gives them eyes on buildings, sporting facilities, and traffic flow to create a comprehensive picture without the vast spend required to build an on-premises and, in the case of the Olympics, temporary system.

We saw great success at the 2015 Special Olympics in LA when organizers used Federation-as-a-Service to connect video cameras from disparate groups and locations. With more than 500,000 spectators having free access to every event, security was tight but never interfered with the celebration.

The all-important cost saving:
While the budgets for events the size of the Olympics might seem staggering to most people, the fact is that these events are notorious for going over budget. Here in Montreal we know that tax-payers can continue to pay for facilities long after everyone has gone home. Now, host cities are always looking for ways to save money.

As we saw with the Special Olympics in LA, moving to the cloud offers significant savings as it eliminates costs associated with buying, storing, cooling, and running on-premises servers. Moving to the Cloud also avoids the other problem associated with on-premises systems namely that, after an event is over, organizers are not even able to recuperate costs because the servers can only be sold for pennies on the dollar. This means that organizations can save money and maintain consistent coverage of an entire event.

Resilience as the key to success:
The overriding benefit of moving to the Cloud is that it is a highly resilient solution. Even in the face of a minor incident, the ability to maintain access, keep eyes on people and facilities, and store data are paramount for getting back to normal as quickly as possible. The size of the event —Super Bowl, Winter Olympics— should not compromise your resilience. Cloud-based systems are redundant, always-on solutions that help make special events like these safe and fun-filled for everyone.

About The Author
Andrew Elvish
Vice President of Marketing


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