An Olympic Endeavour?

During "the Games" more and more of us will be working outside of the office, and for those of us that are used to this mode of operation it won't be a problem, either as end-users or as IT departments. For some though this will likely be the first time their infrastructure has been utilized by a larger than normal number of users; and I don't just mean our transport networks.

We are a few weeks away from the London 2012 Olympics and the advice for everyday Londoners is starting to build up. Transport for London have coyly told me to expect a "Major Impact to Travel" in an email earlier this week, reminding me in a fantastically understated way about "...the sporting events which will be held across London..." and how I should consider staying at home, or more precisely; working from home.

The Olympic Stadium

Working remotely is an increasingly common part of our jobs these days; the normal office hours have been eroded by our always-on connectivity (unless you're an O2 customer) and the rise of smartphones and mobile devices has given us more ways to work than just sat at our desks. Bring your own device (BYOD) is firmly taking root in all but the most resistant organizations and it's been posing new challenges for the IT department, who want to enable the technologies rather than revert to a culture of no.

Most companies have systems for remote-access for a small subset of their users. Some may provide lightweight services like Outlook Web App access so users can remotely access their email if not already using a smartphone. Others will provide a full range of network based services, usually accessible on the end of a token based two-factor authenticated VPN service. For all, there is normally a large requirement for on-premise infrastructure of some sort, and that's where the strain is likely to be felt most.

I'd lay down a small bet here; 10% of your workforce using your remote-access services on-premise is likely to be do-able, and probably close to what you designed the system to handle. 50% of your workforce all sharing the same infrastructure remotely is probably going to be a little hairy. 100% is where I would bet that most IT departments will start to wonder how well long their infrastructure will last. I bet there's only a small number of remote access infrastructures that were designed for 100% usage - is yours one?

This is the first of a series of blog posts I'll be writing during the Games, of course I can write them remotely so normal service is unlikely to be affected for me. But for you, who may be at the end of your tether holding it together for your users, I'll be suggesting a few sensible considerations and solutions. Including:

  • The Cloud as a solution to support your remote users, especially highly demanded services like email.
  • Your Olympic Stadium: Future-proofing your infrastructure now to solve this problem, but enjoying the benefits for years to come.
  • What if the balloon does go up? How are you going to cope if your data centre is on the othervside of the ORN.
  • BYOD: Be your own IT Superstar by enabling this now to let mobile platforms take the strain.

I'm keen to highlight our customers and anyone else who has taken special preventative measures for the Games too. Please get in touch or leave a comment if you have already made special arrangements for your infrastructure and workforce. Happy London 2012!