The Union of European Football Associations (Uefa) IT team is considering to implement a bring your own device (BYOD) policy for volunteers during Euro 2016 to save costs on IT devices.
“A bulk of our content is already consumed on mobile devices and we think that, in the next couple of years, more people would have tablets and smartphones,” Daniel Marion, head of IT at Uefa, told Computer Weekly at Cloud World Forum 2013.
The IT team is currently assessing how cost-effective the move to BYOD for Euro 2016 could be.
Euro 2012 saw 5,000 volunteers working for Uefa during which the organisation had to provide the staff with devices.
It cost Uefa money to provide all the staff with the devices. It then proved time-consuming to re-sell and dispose of the devices after the Euro 2012, Marion said.
Of the total budget allotted for Euro 2012, about 10% was spent on IT, he said.
“Having a robust and secure BYOD policy in place to support all devices for Euro 2016 will definitely help us reduce costs,” Marion said. He is expecting about 7,000 volunteers to work for the event.
But the cost savings on devices for Uefa with the introduction of BYOD for 2016 cannot yet be predicted, as the European football governing body is still at an early stage of the planning.
“It is all about balancing the risks and savings,” Marion said.
The IT team has already started looking at VDI offerings from service providers to support the BYOD policy.
Its plans come at a time when experts predict that BYOD trends are gaining pace in Europe. BYOD strategies are being adopted much faster in Europe than in the US, said Carlos Sartorius, head of Citrix in Europe.
A global survey of CIOs by Gartner found that, by 2016, 38% of companies could stop providing devices to workers altogether.
IT infrastructure suited to BYOD
Uefa’s IT infrastructure is ready to embrace BYOD for Euro 2016, as the organisation has already adopted cloud services.
90% of Uefa’s IT infrastructure is hosted in private cloud giving the organisation a highly scalable and virtual IT, Marion said.
Uefa is using Interoute’s private cloud services for hosting its applications, including the primary website, Uefa.com.
Uefa relies on Interoute’s infrastructure to bring all the latest competition results and information to fans around the world, as well as underpinning online ticket sales and organisational applications.
“IT is not our core competency, so we decided to outsource it,” he said. But the IT team was clear that it needed a highly resilient service.
"An SLA of 99.9% uptime is not good enough for us. One mistake in delivery can be a failure and Uefa wants 100% performance uptime," he said.
Disaster recovery measures
As a safety measure, the organisation is using two of Interoute’s datacentres – one in Amsterdam and one in Geneva.
The Geneva facility is the main facility providing private cloud services to Uefa while the Amsterdam site is a DR (disaster recovery) site. Both the sites are connected with fibre network and has the same infrastructure. So, should one facility fail, another one can automatically take over for uninterrupted services.
“Next IT opportunity for us is to burst to the public cloud,” Marion said. “Public cloud is cheaper but we don’t want to rush into it, because security is paramount to us,” he said.
“Private cloud provides confidence and public cloud provides convenience and we need to get the balance right.”
But Uefa is not looking at large, mainstream cloud providers such as Google, Microsoft Azure or AWS. Instead it has already started to trial its Microsoft Exchange systems and some testing and development environments on Interoute’s public cloud IaaS platform. “We could use Microsoft Office 365,” he said.
But the team wants to avoid looking at a new provider, understanding the terms and conditions and migrating its workload onto a new platform. “With Interoute’s IaaS service, although it is public cloud, we know where it is hosted,” Marion explained.
Marion can look forward to newer IT projects, such as implementing BYOD policy, because with cloud computing it has overcome one of its major challenges – providing uninterrupted service to millions of football fans who flock the same digital service at the same time, such as live streaming, or results page or even game heatmaps.