By Ben Stephenson, Journey to the Cloud
It’s no secret that the Winter Olympics in Sochi has had its fair share of problems. From infrastructure issues, to handling incidents, to security, to amenities for athletes, it seems like anything that could go wrong has gone wrong. So, what can IT learn from what has unfolded at Sochi?
Have your infrastructure in place beforehand
There are plenty of examples from Sochi about the proper infrastructure not being in place before the games started. There was unfinished construction around the city that consisted of exposed wires, uncovered manholes and buildings that weren’t finished. Many of the hotels were also unfinished. Some didn’t have working elevators, completed lobbies, or even running water (not to mention toilets that don’t flush). There’s a great picture circulating the web of an employee spray painting the grass green outside of an Olympic venue. Even the rings at the opening ceremonies malfunctioned. There were also safety concerns regarding the infrastructure of some of the ski / snowboard courses. The women’s downhill ski training runs were delayed after only three racers on the opening day because it was deemed too dangerous because one of the jumps was too big and athletes were “getting too much air.” In addition, Shawn White pulled out of the slopestyle event over safety concerns.
The first takeaway for IT from Sochi is to have your infrastructure in place and running properly before trying to start new projects. For example, if your organization is going to rollout a virtual desktop initiative you better take the proper steps beforehand to ensure a smooth rollout or you’re going to have a lot of angry people to deal with. For example, you need the correct WAN bandwidth between offices as well as the correct storage requirements in place for suitable performance. You also need to ensure that you have the correct network infrastructure in place beforehand to handle additional traffic. Finally, you need the proper server infrastructure set up for the redundancy and horse power necessary to deliver virtual desktops.
Make sure you have a way of handling incidents as they arise
There are always going to be unexpected circumstances that arise during the course of an event or project that have the potential of throwing you off. For example, there was a pillow shortage for Olympic athletes in Sochi. The following message went out to surrounding communities
“ATTENTION, DEAR COLLEAGUES! Due to an extreme shortage of pillows for athletes who unexpectedly arrived at Olympic Village in the mountains, there will be a transfer of pillows from all apartments to the storehouse on 2 February 2014. Please be understanding. We have to help the athletes out of this bind.”
I’m not going to pretend like I know what the plan was ahead of time to deal with supply shortages, but I’m going to go out on a limb and guess it wasn’t to borrow used pillows from strangers.
IT needs to make sure they have detailed plans in place BEFORE starting a project so there is a protocol to deal with unexpected issues as they arise. For example, a few months back GreenPages moved its datacenter. Our team put together an extremely detailed plan that broke out every phase of the move down to 15 minute increments. They devised teams for specific phases that had a communication plan for each team and also devised a backup emergency plan in the event they hit any issues the night of the move. This detailed planning of how to deal with various issues in different scenarios was a big reason why the move ended up being a success.
Have proper security measures in place
Another picture that is circulating the web was taken by a journalist who returned to her hotel room to find keys in her door and the door wide open…even though she left the room with the door shut and locked. There were also reports that visitors in Sochi faced widespread hacking on their mobile devices. IT departments need to make sure that the proper security measures are in place for its end users to protect corporate data. This includes implementing authentication and encryption, using intrusion detection technologies, and edge scanning for viruses.
When dealing with top talent, make sure they have the tools to get their jobs done & stay happy
Olympic athletes certainly qualify as top talent, as they represent the best of the best at their crafts in the entire world. When dealing with top talent, you need to make sure they have the tools to get their jobs done and to stay happy. The yellow colored tap water in Sochi is probably not all that appealing to world class athletes who may be looking to quench their thirst after a long day on the mountain. I can’t imagine that the small bathroom with multiple toilets, but no stalls or dividers, goes over very well either.
In the business world, it’s important to retain top talent. IT can help keep employees happy and enable them to do their jobs in a variety of ways. One example is to make sure you’re offering the applications that people actually use and want. Another example is empowering employees to use the devices of their choice by implementing a BYOD policy.
Take these lessons from this year’s Winter Olympics in Sochi and apply them to your IT strategy and maybe one day you too can win your very own shiny gold medal.
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