Immaturity keeps cloud out of London Olympics

July 11, 2012

Just like young athletes all over the globe who came so close, but just weren't ready yet, cloud computing was given the, "you'll get 'em next time, champ," from the organizers of the London Olympics. Despite seeing all the ways that the cloud could make sense in the future, the CIO of the London Organizing Committee, Gerry Pennell, told a roundtable event in the city that it was not "mature" enough for the 2012 games.

"Economically and in the longer term, it would make a lot of sense for the Olympics to be done on a cloud infrastructure basis, because it's a very peaky operation, so you would be able to call off some resources and use them for a very short amount of time," Pennell said at the roundtable.

Olympic security issues
One of the reasons why Pennell may have been hesitant to migrate the Olympic infrastructure is concern over cloud security. Although secure cloud computing seems more a reality now than ever before, many in the industry still harbor doubts, especially with the technology only having been under the spotlight for a few short years.

Network and web security has never been as important to the Olympics as it is in London, even as the Register reported in May that Beijing 2008 featured 12 million cybersecurity incidents. Experts from a Russian security company told the International Business Times that the cyberthreat landscape for London 2012 was wide open.

While terrorism is the major concern for security officials at the games, the threat posed by hacktivist groups and other cybercriminals is a very real one. Standard threat vectors like a Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack sites with heavy traffic or phishing scams targeting viewers are all possibilities, as are attacks over the WiFi networks being set up across the city for the games.

Mature cloud
Pennell did feel that as the Olympic Games move forward and the cloud continues to develop, it could make appearances in Sochi, Russia in 2014, Rio de Janeiro in 2016 and on into the future.
ZDNet points out that aspects of the cloud, such as its scalability, make it a perfect solution going forward for the Olympics, thanks to the need for a huge infrastructure with great peaks of data. It's just not there yet.

"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," Pennell said. "The applications aren't there, they're not written for the cloud. Quite a big migration would be required to move particularly that core infrastructure into the cloud."

The cloud might not be ready for the bigtime yet, but in four more years, it could take home the gold.

-McAfee Cloud Security