No Open Source for the Winter Olympics

The IT infrastructure looked exactly how the sponsors wanted it to look.

"Citius, altius, fortius." sponsorships took gold at the recent Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, where they shut out open-source technology in the massive infrastructure that supported the event.

Interestingly, there were far fewer sponsors than at past Olympics (those run by IBM), but they contributed far more in the way of cash, goods and services.

The translation is that this oligarchy of sponsors also had far more power, especially as far as brand-name protection and influence over how the IT infrastructure looked. And this time, the IT infrastructure looked exactly how those sponsors wanted it to look.

At Salt Lake City, the lead corporation charged with getting the Olympics rolling technically was SchlumbergerSema—the gigantic consulting arm of the gargantuan French conglomerate. The organizations that were combined to create SchlumbergerSema had revenues that hit more than $4 billion in 2000.

Interestingly, SchlumbergerSema had little say in whose technology was used in the Olympics—the 3,000 IT workers who put the Salt Lake City games together received equipment and help and then integrated it.

Many Utah-based companies were involved, including KeyLabs, which handled capacity testing and measurement; Satel, which assisted with security; and Power Innovations, which provided clean power.

But at the end of the day, Sun seemed to dominate the back-office sponsorship. The IT facility showed racks of Sun boxes. Qwest provided 32,000 miles of fiber cable; Gateway ensured that 4,500 cow boxes (and computers) made their way to the Olympics as well.

Theres no arguing that it worked perfectly, a testimony to SchlumbergerSema, which basically built the entire infrastructure from scratch. At least, no one at SchlumbergerSema admitted that anything went wrong. And it appears that the Olympic site fed pages to 15 million unique visitors without a hitch.

But this architecture had no open-source technologies. Had IBM been the integrator, it would have looked different. It wouldnt have been less expensive, but it could have been an interesting test of open-source technology.

Do sponsorships like this really help out the sponsors? Write to me at [email protected]