TORONTO—The mastermind behind the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics, John Furlong, recalls the months of preparation before the games and the recognition that technology would help meet the ever-changing demands of spectators.

“We required a flawless execution of everything,” said the president of the Vancouver Organizing Committee (VANOC) to a crowd of IT professionals on Thursday.

“We knew that we weren’t going to get a ‘Get Out Of Jail’ card from anyone,” he said. “It was going to be tough.”

Furlong said $400 million of the committee’s $1.8-billion budget was allocated to technology. And, clearly, spectator needs had changed given the Vancouver Olympics Web site attracted three to four times the traffic compared to the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games, four times smaller, had netted two years prior.

“It shows you how everything was changing and evolving and how we had to be ready,” said Furlong.

Part of VANOC’s accomplishments was the building of a private cloud to support the first all-IP Olympic Games in history.

Cisco Systems Inc. took the stage to discuss the state of cloud computing and the role that service providers play in that. Cisco is a technology partner of Bell Canada Enterprises Inc. who, in turn, worked with VANOC. It should be noted, however, that telecommunications provider Avaya Inc. was the sole network equipment provider to VANOC.

Scott Puopolo, a vice-president at network technology provider Cisco Systems, spoke of a new paradigm that essentially is about “turning the network into the platform.” 

He explained that this new platform has the “unifying capability” to deliver data and applications to the end user along with the bandwidth and device mobility they demand.

“Conceptually, we believe, the end user has to be central. Central to the architecture and central to the business outcomes they are trying to achieve,” said Puopolo.

In an interview with ComputerWorld Canada following the event, Puopolo said this paradigm is based on end users needed access to communications, collaborations and applications anywhere at anytime and that the capabilities of the network enable precisely that.

“In order to do that, the network becomes the unifying theme,” said Puopolo.

The push behind this is the consumerization of IT, which has really set high expectations for what technology can deliver, said Puopolo. This approach, coined by some industry observers as everything-as-a-service, is fundamentally about business agility and being able to link process change with technology change.

“In an everything-as-a-service environment, what we see is that the IT actually becomes an easier element for the transformation,” said Puopolo. “IT capacity and capability can increase as the needs provide.”

Follow Kathleen Lau on Twitter: @KathleenLau

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