Cup Kicks Avaya Into High Gear
They went in as underdogs but have parlayed growing experience and meticulous preparation into early success at this years FIFA World Cup soccer tournament in South Korea and Japan. And theyve never scored a goal.
Avaya Inc., the Lucent Technologies Inc. spinoff, built the massive IP-based converged voice and data network that is supporting the international event taking place in more than two dozen locations in the Far East nations. According to officials, the project, the first of its size and scope for Avaya, includes a number of lessons for any company considering building a cutting-edge enterprise network.
"Ive treated this whole network as a normal commercial enterprise," Doug Gardner, Avayas managing director for the World Cup program, said in a telephone interview from Sapporo, Japan. Gardner said he expects that the network will carry more traffic in one month than Avayas typical Fortune 500 enterprise customer carries in a year.
The IP network comprises more than 40,000 network connections at 20 stadiums, two media centers, two soccer association headquarters and hotels where players are staying. In addition to carrying data, the network handles IP phone calls and teleconferences from traditional handsets, PCs and handheld devices.
By some estimates, four-fifths of the worlds population will watch at least one of the 64 matches. The Basking Ridge, N.J., company disclosed a total of $100 million in sponsorship for this World Cup and World Cup 2006, plus the Womens World Cup next year, but officials would not say how much they spent on the network itself. Key to Avaya, officials said, is how the massive projects will ratchet up their experiencein addition to garnering them worldwide media exposure.
So far, some say, Avayas early success at the World Cup proves that IP can be deployed on a large scale. However, according to Chris Kozup, an analyst with Meta Group Inc., in Burlingame, Calif., it is important to note that Avaya had an unusual advantage in building from scratch and using all its own equipment.
"This is really a best-case scenario, an atypical example of IP deployment," Kozup said. "No enterprise has the luxury to start from scratch a year before lighting up a network. It does show what weve always said, which is that greenfield deployments should be the first movers for this technology."
Avaya is not using the event to beta test technologies. For the soccer federation, reliability was critical, so the vendor chose to deploy a more tested version of its IP platform rather than the latest version released this spring.
Among the biggest lessons Avaya has learned is how to deploy a single network across different countries with different cultures and different ways of doing business, Gardner said. Designing the backbone proved to be a particular challenge because Avaya had to consider differing transport preferences of the host countries, and, in the end, the company deployed frame relay in South Korea and asynchronous transfer mode in Japan, he said.
Among the networks most important uses is its ability to keep players in touch with family, friends and fans around the globe.
In a telephone interview from Suwan, South Korea, after last weeks stunning 3-2 victory over Portugal, U.S. player Jeff Agoos said Avayas network has proved indispensable for maintaining contact during the monthlong tournament. "I had never used a wireless [LAN] system until they installed this in the hotel rooms here," Agoos said. "Once you get it, you dont know how you ever lived without it." Agoos said he had been receiving about five or six e-mail messages a day since arriving in South Korea, but following the spectacular upset Wednesday, nearly 30 messages were waiting for him. They were mostly of a congratulatory nature, he said.