Euro 2016: A Connectivity Challenge

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Needless to say, each major sporting event represents a serious challenge in terms of IT infrastructure.  And the Euro 2016 Football Championship is no exception.

Just look at the figures below cited by its official press kit, to get an idea of its scale:

“A new competition format will see 24 teams taking part in the final tournament, instead of 16, which has been the case since 1996. There will be 51 matches - 20 more games than in 2012.

2.5 million fans are expected in the stadiums, including 1.5 million foreign visitors, and they are expected to spend €1bn in the course of the tournament. By comparison, there were 1.4 million fans in 2012.

The matches will be broadcast live in more than 230 territories around the world. 150 million spectators are expected to follow each game live. More than 8.1 billion viewers watched UEFA EURO 2012 matches on TV.”

The competition will also be employing 650 staff and 6,500 volunteers.

And in the UK only, there will be 40,000 pubs streaming the matches… That sure is a lot of beer!

This makes it one of the most popular events in the world. And throughout the whole competition, individuals and businesses alike will rely on one thing in particular: connectivity.

Whether in the stadium or at the pub, spectators will want to access their favourite social media platforms, share videos on Snapchat, text their friends on Whatsapp. They’ll want to place their bets on sports betting websites (top scorer anyone? Ronaldo, Muller or Giroud?), which means ensuring fast and secure internet access. They’ll want to stream their favourite moments on YouTube over and over again.

And for companies, the stakes are even bigger: many are planning big business during the event.

Let’s start with the social media frenzy. Twitter for example. In 2012, Twitter counted almost 12 million tweets mentioning the #Euro2012 hashtag. And 15,000 tweets were recorded per second when Spain scored its fourth goal in the final.  If #Euro2012 is anything to go by, and considering we’ve got far more fans this year, we’ll probably see a dramatic peak in usage for #Euro2016 for Twitter and its friends Facebook, Snapchat or Instagram. Fans will be engaged before, during and after the event (just look at Orange's project to light up the Eiffel Tower with the latest social media activity)[Editors note: original link removed as Orange has since deleted the related press release]. These platforms will thus need to be able to quickly scale up their network, in particular their connectivity to public clouds such as AWS, Azure or Google Cloud, where their data is stored, to operate without interruption.  

What about the press? Journalists from all over the world are sent to France to cover the competition. They will need fast and reliable access to their work emails and to their company cloud to be able to upload their latest articles, videos and pictures within tight deadlines. But whether all newspapers have their own guys in France already or not, chances are they’ll be publishing much more interactive media content on their sites, thus requiring more bandwidth than usual. If you’re using public cloud, a private connection to a CSP is the best way to ensure your assets are available anytime, anywhere whilst giving you greater control and security over your data.

You might also consider setting up practical and secure remote access to your network by giving authorised users encrypted access to your corporate resources from anywhere through a VPN service.

Let’s not forget the hospitality industry, in particular pubs and hotels, not just in France but in the UK too. Customers and guests will be highly relying on their wifi to stream the matches and share their experience on social media, either around a pint or in bed. For many guests reliable wireless access has become a basic human right, something establishments must remember if they don’t want their TripAdvisor rankings to fall through the floor. Their infrastructure must be up to the connectivity challenge and be able to provide maximum performance and efficiency to cater for higher demand.

Betting companies such as Paddy Power or Ladbrokes will need to up their game in terms of performance and reliability; any high latency or downtime could cost them millions. Their visitors will leave their website if it shows any slowness.

Apart from network connectivity, all organisations whose websites represent their main customer touch point will need to ensure they are protected against DDoS attacks. This will help them avoid the cost of fighting off the attacks and the loss of revenues suffered as a result (let’s not forget when Paypal lost £3.5m in 2012 after a DDoS attack).

And if you think your organisation has nothing to do with the Euro 2016 Championship, think again: your staff loves a good competition too, and many games are scheduled at 2pm and 5pm on weekdays. The possibility that they will be streaming the match, updating their live feed on Facebook, posting their thoughts on Twitter, all while using their online CRM tool or checking their work emails is very high. There’s no point in trying to forbid them to check the score from time to time. Your employees will be resentful and show less productivity in the end. The solution? Make sure your network is quickly scalable and can easily accommodate peak in demands to avoid congestion.

Remember: connectivity is the most single important factor during this competition (apart from the players of course). So call hSo today to help you get your network ready.

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