Handling the pressure behind the scenes - the 2006 FIFA World Cup IT Solution
Every four years, the eyes of the world turn to the largest sporting event on the planet - the FIFA World Cup. The immense global interest in this event of course cranks up the pressure behind the scenes. With 3 million spectators in the 12 stadiums, and more than 30 billion television viewers expected to follow the competition, FIFA has become one of the world's heaviest IT network user and is placing non-stop demands on critical systems, from accreditation and security to logistics and match results.
FIFA and the German Organising Committee needed fast and reliable systems, applications and infrastructure, both beforehand, for the planning, and even more so now, for the smooth running of an event as large-scale and significant as the 2006 FIFA World Cup. Everything therefore has to function perfectly - and this is where the Information Technology (IT) Solution is playing a crucial role, with four key players involved. Avaya, Deutsche Telekom, Toshiba and Yahoo! are each market leaders in their respective fields and have provided the cutting-edge products and services necessary to the success of the technology implementation project that is the IT Solution. One look at the key stats confirms the complexity of the project: 40,000 network connections; 10,000 communications and network devices; 3,000 notebooks; 1,000 IT staff members and volunteers; 25 communication servers; 45 application servers over 8,000 kilometres of temporary cabling and more than 15 terabytes of converged voice and data traffic.
"There is real pressure on FIFA to get the project done," says Michael Kelly, Head of IT Solution at FIFA. "For example, every stadium is its own entity with various technical differences. Nevertheless, the IT Solution must deploy - in less than a month - a dynamic, secure and highly reliable event network which integrates all 12 FIFA World Cup stadiums into one seamless entity. At FIFA, we rely on our Official IT Partners to help us successfully manage what is effectively 12 simultaneous large-scale implementation projects."
Avaya test laboratory in Frankfurt
As Official Convergence Communication provider Avaya is providing the data networking components, services and software needed to power the event network, and is responsible for implementing and managing the voice and data network infrastructure and software to meet the stringent availability requirements of the FIFA World Cup. The company is also working together with Deutsche Telekom in the implementation, monitoring and overall management of the event network.
Avaya set up a highly impressive and efficient test laboratory in Frankfurt featuring the core components and control panels which have actually been implemented in all twelve stadiums. The various devices used throughout the venues were put through their paces here, with every conceivable (and inconceivable) situation simulated to make sure that this advanced technology had a few warm-up matches before the tournament began - after all, the FIFA World Cup event network must be able to cope with the kind of demands imposed by multinational corporations with complex processes and high levels of time pressure.
Deutsche Telekom - Europe's star player
Via its T-Com and T-Systems operating units, Deutsche Telekom is providing the telecommunications and systems integration services and products needed to drive event operations. T-Com forms the backbone of the FIFA World Cup event network, supplying all of the telecommunications services to support the data and telephony needs of the FIFA World Cup as well as the networking experts to work together with Avaya to design, plan and build the event network.
The T-Systems division of the company is providing support services for the event network, systems integration and IT operations at all venues as well as the central IT Command Centre, and is also hosting all IT Solution applications at a highly secure data centre located in Germany. This 'fortress' is acting as the nerve centre for the entire FIFA IT Solution, housing the servers that support the Event Management and Event Information Systems.
Toshiba on the move
In 2002, 90% of the computers used at the FIFA World Cup Korea/Japan were desktops. Four years on, FIFA exclusively uses Toshiba Tecra notebooks - three thousand of them, in fact - meaning that all of those involved with the running of the tournament have access to information, statistics, match data and online reports via their personal Toshiba notebook PCs - a boon for FIFA and Organising Committee employees who are constantly travelling between the twelve host cities. As well as being high-performance, the Tecra notebooks are both robust and secure in terms of viruses and also physical theft, thus maximizing productivity and minimizing risk and downtime.
Yahoo! brings the media closer to the action
Through Yahoo!'s leading Internet solutions, the press have all the information that they need at their fingertips. Yahoo! has developed the Media Channel - the virtual media centre of the 2006 FIFA World Cup which is available to the 15,000 accredited press representatives working at the event. As the Official Website Services Provider of the 2006 FIFA World Cup, Yahoo! has also created the official website, FIFAworldcup.com.
Football fans first and foremost
It's not merely a business proposition for the four Official IT Partners, however. They are here because they love football. "The reason we originally became involved in the FIFA World Cup was that after being spun off from Lucent Technologies, we saw it as both a branding opportunity and an internal morale-booster," explains Doug Gardner, Managing Director of Avaya's FIFA World Cup Technical Programme. "It's been very good for raising our global profile, as almost everyone is passionate about the FIFA World Cup."
Perhaps Thomas Wolter, T-Systems Enterprise Services' Executive Vice President of Systems Integration, sums it up perfectly "It's just like when you go into the stadium and hear your national anthem - you get goose pimples. That's how all our employees working on this project feel and that's why they take pride in working on it."