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Avaya and the challenge of Sochi 2014

Zafar Anjum | March 11, 2014
Sochi presented challenges unseen by previous Olympic Games, especially in the deployment of a network capable of fulfilling unprecedented demand in a greenfield environment, says Dean Frohwerk, Chief Network Architect, Sochi Winter Olympics 2014, Avaya, in this exclusive interview.

What challenges Avaya faced in setting up the network at Sochi?

Sochi presented challenges unseen by previous Olympic Games, especially in the deployment of a network capable of fulfilling unprecedented demand in a greenfield environment. Critical to the success of the Games has been a secure, robust network capable of carrying vast amounts of data while identifying (and granting access to) a huge range of different user groups.

The network has had to provide seamless connectivity across all venues and provision additional capacity quickly and simply, handling huge peaks in data traffic as audience figures spiked with the flagship events. In Vancouver in 2010, wired traffic outnumbered wireless by a factor of 4-to-1. In Sochi, the ratio has been reversed, with Wi-Fi traffic being the predominate form of access.

Sochi has also been the first Winter Games to deploy IPTV technology to provide onsite coverage for the Olympic family. Previously this required a completely separate network, driving significant additional cost and complexity for the organising committee.

Finally, there was zero infrastructure for Avaya to leverage when building its network in Sochi. Sochi was a blank canvas spanning diverse and geographically dispersed territories. We had to build the communications infrastructure at the same time as buildings, roads and essential services were going up, which also created some interesting challenges - but also the opportunity to build from scratch a lasting legacy for Sochi and the whole region. Much of the infrastructure will remain to support further sporting events like the upcoming Grand Prix and 2018 FIFA World Cup, and still more will be repurposed for further use by the Sochi community.

What technologies Avaya used at Sochi?

Avaya has supported all the voice, data and video communications of the Olympic family in Sochi on a series of virtualized networks dedicated to different users - including athletes and their support teams, officials and timekeepers, the global media, the 25,000 volunteers who have supported the games, and the organising bodies.  A resilient fabric network created by Avaya's Virtual Enterprise Network Architecture has provided the high performance network for both the coastal cluster (where all the stadium-based ice events have taken place) and the mountain cluster which has been home to the skiing, snowboarding and sliding events. To aid connectivity we deployed extensive indoor and outdoor WiFi throughout both the Mountain and Coastal clusters.

The resiliency of the Avaya network has been designed to keep the Olympic Family fully connected throughout the games.  Our network was provisioned to recover within 20 milliseconds of an issue. Traditional networking technologies require up to 1-2 seconds to recover. The simplicity of Avaya's network technology enabled the design and deployment of the Sochi Olympic network within a short timeframe. And the agility of Avaya's network technology has made it a formidable opponent to the ever-changing, dynamic Olympic Games environment.  Avaya's network has coped well with sudden spikes in network capacity because it is able to make connectivity changes faster and easier than ever before automatically.


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