How To Stress Test IT Infrastructure Like an Olympic Champion

The London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (LOCOG) is relying on Atos, Europe’s largest IT services firm, to make sure that everything at the 2012 Summer Olympics goes off without a hitch – at least when it comes to technology. And just like an athlete preparing for the games,  Atos is practicing and practicing again ahead of the opening ceremony.

Last week, Atos reported the completion of the first of two full rehearsals. Over 300 IT pros from Atos and fellow Olympic technology partners Cisco, Acer, Omega, Panasonic, Samsung, BT and Airwave (A Gartner case study goes into much more depth on the integrations between all of the above), tested the system under Games-time conditions, ensuring that  everything is working smoothly and that proper procedures are in place for when the starting gun sounds. All in all, Atos expects to put in 200,000 hours of “meticulous testing” before the Olympic Games kick off on July 27th, according to the press release.

Atos’ specific contributions include Info+, a kiosk system for athletes, coaches and media to get statistics, schedules and other information, and Commentator Information System (CIS), a tool for delivering real-time information to touch-screen PCs, giving announcers the results of a match before a noisy crowd even registers what happened. Once the games start, Atos will have 3,500 technology pros on the ground to help support 900 servers, 1,000 network and security devices and ten thousand computers.

It always, always pays off to stress-test your IT infrastructure ahead of a full roll-out – no self-respecting professional wants to be caught flat-footed when problems inevitably arise, and there’s a direct link between proactivity and productivity.

“[A] musical group’s preparation is never complete without a full dress rehearsal in the actual venue for a performance. Similarly, an IT organization should never launch a system or release into production without functional, end-to-end, UAT, PLUS performance/stress testing with predictive process simulation of the expected impact on a business organization’s processes,” as EMC Consulting’s Laddie Suk put it in a blog entry last year.

Obviously, not every CIO will have the chance to do hundreds of thousands of hours of testing under real-world, high-stress conditions. And thankfully, not every deployment is as highly demanding as the 2012 Summer Olympics. But the lesson here – that stress-testing is absolutely vital to gold medal performance – is a critical one.