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IT on track for Athens Olympics

The task of developing and implementing the IT infrastructure for the 2004 Olympic Summer Games in Athens is solidly on track, according to SchlumbergerSema, the games' lead IT aggregator.

Schlumberger already broke a record when it and the International Olympic Committee announced in September that for the first time in Olympic Games history, all critical IT functions were ready for testing during live events a year before the start of the games.

"We're using these months we have left to continue to rehearse and test, try out what-if scenarios, test again. We're basically in full-testing mode," said Claude Philipps, SchlumbergerSema's chief technology integrator of the 2004 Olympic Games. Testing and integration is being done at a computer lab which has been operational in Athens since November 2002.

SchlumbergerSema, under contract with the International Olympic Committee as lead IT aggregator for four Olympic Games - the winter games in Salt Lake City (2002) and in Turin, Italy (2006), and the summer games in Athens (2004) and in Beijing (2008) - is in charge of IT planning, project management, systems integration, software development and IT security.

SchlumbergerSema is co-ordinating the work with about 10 other secondary IT companies, such as Eastman Kodak, Xerox, Swatch, Dell and Sun Microsystems. During the games, SchlumbergerSema will oversee an IT staff of almost 4,000 people.

SchlumbergerSema, which by all accounts developed a solid IT infrastructure and ran a very effective IT operation at the Salt Lake City winter games, faces the challenge of duplicating that success on a much larger scale.

The IT and telecom infrastructure will include a secure network connecting 60 competition and non-competition venues with key IT support sites, and two redundant data centres, a primary and a back up one. This network is not linked to the public internet to protect it from any possible external attacks. Access to the public internet will be provided through a secondary network used for non-critical administrative tasks.

Hardware will include about 10,000 PCs, 400 Unix servers, 450 Intel-based servers, 13,000 mobile phones, 23,000 landline phones, 2,500 intranet terminals, 2,000 printers, 2,000 fax machines and printers and 9,000 two-way radios.

Two key sets of applications are involved: the Games Management Systems (GMS) applications, which are ready and in use, and which are designed to automate logistics tasks, such as accreditation, transportation, arrivals and departures and accommodations; and the Info Diffusion Systems applications, which will be completed this month and which will be used during the games to deliver real-time event results, scores and other information to journalists, officials, coaches and other accredited staff.

A key part of the GMS application set is the Accreditation system (ACR) for controlling access to venues. ACR combines physical ID badges, a scanning system and back-office database applications linked to the games' IT network. It will be used to manage registration and establish which areas each accredited person can access.

"We have been very impressed with Schlumberger consistently meeting all deadlines," said Philippe Verveer, director of technology for the International Olympic Committee.

SchlumbergerSema is also dealing with is its sale to a new parent company. New York-based Schlumberger announced in September that French computer services company Atos Origin had agreed to buy its the core IT services activities, a deal expected to be finalised in January. However, SchlumbergerSema does not expect the deal to have any adverse effect on the Olympic Games IT work.

Juan Carlos Perez writes for IDG News Service


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