LOCOG (London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games) have, not surprisingly, been the subject of increasing media coverage as the start of the London 2012 Olympics draws ever closer. Hidden amongst the news of security concerns, transport problems and allegations of over zealous protection of the Olympic brand was the headline “LOCOG CIO pans cloud!” Speaking at a BT press event this week Gerry Pennell, CIO for LOCOG, had apparently said that although the Olympic Games were likely to make greater use of cloud computing in the future, “it was certainly not possible in the three and a half years we had in the interval between 2008 and 2012” and went on to say that “The trouble is the infrastructure in the cloud is not sufficiently mature enough to support the kind of things we’re doing in the Olympics.”
This is, in my opinion, a bit of a sweeping statement and certainly isn’t a true reflection on the state of the industry. Hopefully Gerry has simply been misquoted. I certainly agree with him that the use of some of the public cloud offerings probably wouldn’t be the optimal delivery mechanism for the Olympic requirements. However, I am hoping that LOCOG have made maximum use of private cloud and virtualization and haven’t just stood up silos of legacy infrastructure to support the games! The whole theme of the London games is to inspire a generation and leave a lasting legacy – that legacy could and should include new IT capabilities to support national, and even international, sporting events and venues. Cloud computing is established and proven and numerous organisations (including EMC) are running their mission critical applications in private clouds and an increasing number are using public cloud offerings – and not just for development and test environments. The Government is actively pushing cloud computing through their G-Cloud initiative with clear savings and efficiency targets associated with the programme. So to say is not mature enough is, at best, a little harsh. Cloud computing was just coming to the fore in 2005 when London was awarded the games and has made a quantum leap in terms of maturity and capability in the last 4 years. There isn’t a CIO I talk to that isn’t either already actively utilizing cloud capabilities or is actively progressing a plan to do so. Most are still firmly wedded to the private cloud – but, as concerns over trust and reliability are allayed, this will shift to a more hybrid approach making use of both private and public capabilities.
The agility, operational efficiency and resilience that well architected private cloud offerings can provide an organisation would, I imagine, have been right at the top of the list of requirements for the IT systems for the Olympics.