Vancouver Olympics scores real-time info distribution

Sun Microsystems of Canada Inc. announced today it will join Canada’s amateur athletes on the world stage as the official computer network server provider of the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games.

In a launch event from Markham, Ont., the company joined the Vancouver Organizing Committee for the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games (VANOC), former Canadian Olympic gold medalist Nathalie Lambert and even the Vancouver 2010 mascots to announce the partnership.

The company said it will provide the network server and storage infrastructure that collects and distributes all the scoring, times, results and weather information from the events in real-time. Andy Canham, president of Sun Microsystems of Canada, said Sun’s experience working with major sporting leagues and events such as the National Hockey League, Canadian Football and the Salt Lake 2002 Olympic Winter Games will ensure they have the expertise to pull off the monumental project.

“For example, let’s say Canada won both men’s and women’s hockey, the second you see that light come on, we’ll be capturing and sharing that information in real-time in Canada and around the world,” Canham told a conference room of several hundred Sun employees. “We will have a direct impact on how the games will run and how the world will watch them.” VANOC’s CEO John Furlong said his committee chose Sun because of its experience with major events like the Olympics.

“When an athlete crosses the finish line at the Olympic Games and wins by one thousandth of one second, they rely very heavily on technology and people to get it absolutely right,” Furlong said. “The Olympic Games is highly reliant on technology in every aspect of the delivery of the Games. And if you’ve talked to people who have organized the Games in the past, they will tell you that technology plays a greater than ever role in delivering perfection.”

To underscore the importance of technology to the Games, former gold and silver medalist Nathalie Lambert, the chef de mission – or team leader – of Canada’s squad in 2010, expressed her support for the partnership to the crowd.

“I am thrilled that Sun is on board, because my role is to make sure that nothing will prevent the athletes from having their day in history,” Lambert said.

Sun is using the Vancouver 2010 Information Diffusion System, developed by Paris-based IT consulting firm Atos Origin SA to compile and distribute the real-time scoring and timing results throughout the world. The system will be powered by Sun Fire UltraSPARC servers as well as the Solaris 10 operating system. Additionally, both the Games Management system, used to manage processes like the accreditation for event attendees and the calendar system for athletes and officials, will run on a series of Sun Fire x64 servers with Intel and AMD Opteron processors.

Lambert said that these technologies will bring information like event schedules, rosters, and starting order, to the athletes instantaneously, and ultimately help their preparation.

“Let’s pretend for a minute that I’m still 25 and I’m getting ready for the Games in Vancouver,” Lambert said. “More than time and energy, it’s the whole centre of our universe when we’re in it. Most athletes will have worked out for 10, 20, or in my case, 22 years to get to the games and when the time comes we’re nervous.”

Lambert said her training and technique patterns is what got her to perform successfully on the world stage, which makes more accurate reporting technology at the 2010 Games extremely vital.

“When I’m preparing, I need to know the exact time my race starts to the minute, because then I’ll know exactly when I’m going to warm up, when I’m going to go on the ice, when I’m going to go on the bicycle, and even when I’m going to ask my massage therapist to give me a quick shake,” Lambert said. “Getting the information as fast as possible will make a huge difference for us and how we prepare.”

In addition to being a sponsor for the 2010 Winter Games, Sun’s four-year official supplier partnership with VANOC will also give them sponsorship rights for the Canadian Olympic Teams participating at the London 2012 Olympic Games.

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