2004 Olympics present mammoth security and network challenge

The IT manager responsible for installing and managing the technology behind next year’s Olympic Games has spoken of the...

The IT manager responsible for installing and managing the technology behind next year’s Olympic Games has spoken of the challenge his team faces in securing networks against hackers and installing thousands of PCs and servers.

With 10 months to go before the start of the Athens Olympic Games, the event’s chief integrator, Claude Philipps, said the project was on track.

The technology for the games is being provided by 10 suppliers, ranging from Dell and Sun Microsystems to local Greek IT providers.
The IT project is being managed by IT services company Schlumberger Sema.

The games’ computer network covers 60 venues around Athens and incorporates 500 Unix servers, 500 Windows boxes, 10,000 PCs and 400 laptops.

Philipps’ IT team numbers more than 300 people from 22 different countries.

This number will eventually be swelled to more than 1,300 IT staff as volunteers come on board for the duration of the games. 
The project is unique, according to Philipps, who is employed by Schlumberger Sema.

“Because of the high profile of the event, failure is not an option and we have an unmoveable deadline. We cannot rely on penalty clauses. We have to be ready by the start date.”

IT security is a major issue for Philipps. “The games network is isolated, with no access to the internet or e-mail but we are taking precautions and have put in firewalls and layers of anti-virus and intrusion detection software.

“We also have security staff on hand to monitor the network and ensure that no one can break in to any of the data centres.”

In the run up to the games next August Philipps and his team plan to test the network rigorously. “We will rehearse everything and play out many ‘what if’ scenarios,” he said.

“Is our kit robust enough? Is the network reliable enough? What happens is there is a power cut? What happens if volunteers don’t turn up? We will leave nothing to chance,” he said.

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