London 2012: Keep Calm And Carry On

Official guidelines issued by London 2012 urge Londoners to avoid all ‘non essential’ travel during the Olympics. With this in mind, many businesses including those in Canary Wharf and Whitehall itself are already exploring alternative flexible working models, such as mobile working and implementing BYOD schemes – all of which have the potential to place unprecedented levels of strain on existing corporate networks.

To prevent disaster and mitigate risks, businesses must test their IT pressure points now. With over 600,000 sports fans expected to arrive in London this summer for the Olympics, it will undoubtedly be a struggle to maintain ‘business as usual.

At present, an estimated 24 million trips are made in the capital on an average day. The number of trips could rise to 25 million during the busiest times of the Olympics, with up to 500,000 spectators at events, live sites or cultural events, making the navigation of the city near impossible for many.

The additional strain on the city’s infrastructure will be immense, but it’s not just bus routes, tube lines, roads and airport terminals that are set to feel the pinch. Business leaders will be under intense pressure to keep operations moving and to maintain all-important business continuity.

Home working will no doubt help to ease congestion on the capital’s transport infrastructure, but the additional congestion on corporate networks and service providers will prove challenging. With thousands of additional employees accessing corporate email archives, VPNs, and company files, networks will under immense pressure.

In the final run-up to the Games, CIOs should be looking at testing their networks’ resilience and, as well as examining any other potential pain points. Earlier this month, a number of large banks in Canary Wharf trialled a home-working stress test to assess their readiness, and last week saw a large-scale test of homeworking in the public sector too. I would go so far as to encourage others in a number of different sectors set to be affected by the games to follow suit – and quickly too.

Companies that have not addressed these challenges may be risking a significant productivity/revenue slump during the Games. Whereas, those that have indeed addressed it, need to be 100 per cent sure that they have sufficient back-up plans in place should network performance waiver.

As Country Manager for the UK & Ireland, Marcus Jewell’s responsibilities include overseeing Brocade’s sales and services teams, driving the expansion of the company’s Ethernet/IP business and determining Brocade’s partner and channel strategies in the market. Marcus has over 15 years of experience in the networking business, having started his career in technical sales at Xerox, focused on network attached solutions. He then joined MiTech Europe, where he rose through the ranks from lead generation and sales to become Managing Director of MiSpace, a managed ICT services company jointly owned by MiTech and Jewell. He joined Mitel Networks in 2003, heading up the Enterprise Sales and Services for the UK and Ireland, where he was responsible for significantly growing market share and revenue. He graduated from Glamorgan University with a Bachelor of Engineering Honours Degree in Civil Engineering.