The 2012 London Olympics are coming. Data centres and companies alike must be prepared, lest they risk the performance of business critical applications. What will these challenges mean for datacentres and companies? Why does application performance matter? And how can these challenges can be proactively handled?
The challenges of the Olympics
The Olympic Games threaten to stress UK networks like never before. BT, the official communications sponsor of the Games, announced that the Olympics are 'the most complex logistical peacetime challenge [they've] had to face'. Every second BT expects 6GB of information to travel across their Olympic-designated networks, equivalent to 6,000 novels, or the entire contents of Wikipedia every five seconds. In preparation, BT is investing 640,000 man hours into the Olympic project. O2 also is investing £50 million to increase its reliability around Olympic sites by deploying new temporary antenna.
It's no surprise BT is concerned about the impact of the Olympics on networks. Consider a related international event: the 2011 World Cup. During the World Cup, mobile bandwidth data usage increased by 24%. Web browsing traffic increased by 35% during match time. YouTube grew by 32% on post-match mornings, while lunchtime matches showed the largest bandwidth increase with 31%. Video streaming increased by 11%. Networks faced unprecedented traffic flows.
There are reasons to believe the Olympics will generate greater data levels than even the World Cup. Unlike the Olympics, World Cup matches are single events taking place at a single time, and after matches the crowds dissipate to wider areas, drawing on different infrastructure. Similarly, the World Cup takes place over a larger geographic area with stadia hundreds of miles apart, meaning communications demands are not so concentrated. The Olympics are a different ballgame. Closely concentrated, incredibly complex, the Olympics threaten to challenge networks like never before. Indeed, they will challenge networks as only one other thing can: the future, when such ever-active applications streaming to and fro across networks will become the norm.
What these challenges mean
During an average week, 56% of UK office-based employees watch online video while at work. Roughly 66% of UK employees indicated they watch more than one hour of online video per week from the office. A large portion of the Olympics will occur during business hours; employees will go online to track events. So take the traffic stats mentioned above, and expand it to – quite literally – Olympic sized proportions.
If companies aren't prepared, their business critical applications will be affected as they compete against YouTube, BBC iPlayer and online video for limited resources. IT departments need to know how to guard against this.
The failure of business critical applications can really cost an organisation. For instance, a high-volume online store bringing in £25,000 per hour could crash due to a single network failure. If the outage lasts several hours, the monetary impact can be quite significant. IDC recently estimated the cost of an 11-hour IT outage at around £600,000.