London 2012 Olympics turns to green tech

The London 2012 Olympic Games will be the “most green and sustainable” games to date, and IT will play its full part.

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The London 2012 Olympic Games will be the “most green and sustainable” games to date, and IT will play its full part.

That is the message of Gerry Pennell, CIO for the London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (LOCOG), and IT services partner Atos Origin.

Pennell and Atos Origin this week highlighted green technologies, such as server virtualisation, that could help the organising committee control costs and reduce waste.

Michele Hyron, chief integrator to the 2012 Games at Atos Origin, the company leading the consortium of IT suppliers that designs, builds and operates the huge technology infrastructure in support of the Games said the team will cut hardware and software in a bid to reduce emissions.

“We are looking to reduce the amount of hardware, cooling, power consumption, air conditioning and equipment that the London organisers have to buy," said Hyron, who was operations manager at the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games, integration manager at Athens 2004 and quality manager at Salt Lake City 2002.

Derek Ward, executive VP for UK markets and strategic relationships at Atos Origin, added: "At the front of our mind is always sustainability because this way we can minimise the use of hardware and power."

The games will use an estimated 900 servers, around 1,000 network and security devices and 8,000 computers. On top of this, Hyron said, Atos will ensure all applications and equipment has undergone 200,000 hours of testing.

The Olympics team also face another challenge, with tier one sponsor Nortel, the Canadian telecoms equipment manufacturer, filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in mid-January.

Pennell said LOCOG is working closely with Nortel to find out what the Chapter 11 filing will mean for the Olympics but he insisted Nortel's financial pressures would "have no impact" on the Olympic timetable.

"More broadly, we are keeping an eye and conducting due diligence regarding the financial robustness of our suppliers, as you would expect us to do. At the moment we are not seeing any problems," said Pennell.

The Olympics CIO said that construction crews building the Olympic Park are early adopters of server virtualisation – by using IT applications inside a hosted environment with a shared service desk for crews and Games organisers.

London 2012 will also improve the remote capabilities of its commentators' information system, streaming real-time results, athlete information and coverage to broadcasters' around the world and offering a single feed of all Olympics news. The idea is to reduce unnecessary travel and to use less paper than the 2008 Beijing Olympics, where 50 million sheets were printed out.

But the merits of virtualisation are still being investigated, as only proven robust technologies will be adopted. LOCOG and Atos cannot risk system failures, explained Adiba. "Managing risk is the key factor for us,” he said.