RealTime IT News

Brace Yourself for the Beijing Olympics

August 8, 2008, the day the Olympics will kick off, is auspicious to the Chinese -- their word for eight is faat, which sounds like their word for wealth, and that repeated four times is a mighty powerful mantra.

But it could spell woe for corporations, as they may have to scramble to ensure their Internet bandwidth is not sucked up by staff accessing the Web to watch the online video coverage of the Games.

The threat is certainly real and has a precedent, as recently as a few months ago. "One of our customers told us that their system was inundated and their Internat gateway came to a halt during March Madness with the basketball playoffs last year," Steve Schick, director of corporate communications at Blue Coat, told InternetNews.com.

NBCOlympics.com has teamed up with Limelight (NASDAQ: LLNW), a content delivery provider, to ensure the public Internet's overall bandwidth is not impacted too severely.

Matters could be made worse because NBCOlympics.com will provide e-mail alerts to viewers. E-mails also open enterprises to spammers and phishers, while streaming videos and Websites from which they can be downloaded could be used by cybercriminals to launch attacks on a corporation's systems.

Bandwidth will get hammered if enough people in an office, or in buildings in a given area, log on to the Internet to watch the games. Experts recommend that businesses implement Web access policies and Internet filtering to prevent chaos.

"The congestion would happen in the last mile," Randy Fuller, vice president of business development at Camiant, which produces management software for policy control of both cable and wireless broadcasts, told InternetNews.com. "If enough people in a building, or in a certain area, logged on around the same time, there definitely could be some significant effect."

Although NBCOlympics.com will make 3,600 hours of video available online, this won't impact the public Internet, according to Paul Alfieri, senior director of corporate communications at Limelight. Limelight is partnering with NBC.com to deliver the videos.

"We have thousands of servers at the edge of the last mile networks, and deliver content to those servers, which stream them directly to the last mile," Alfieri said. Limelight operates its own global fiber optic network, and "in 85 to 90 percent of the cases," nothing distributed through that touches the public Internet, Alfieri added.

Akamai is delivering live and on-demand video for the Olympics here in the U.S., according to Jennifer Donovan, a spokesperson for Akamai, another content delivery provider. "Akamai is working with the European Broadcast Union to deliver Olympic video to the sites they support," she added.

Meanwhile, NewsMarket, which lets companies like Nike and Volkswagen deliver video to deliver video to media outlets worldwide, is using Akamai's Web Application Accelerator to let journalists in China more quickly preview and download Olympics-related raw news video clips for use. NewsMarket is also using Akamai's Media Delivery solution for Adobe Flash streaming and Electronic Software Delivery for faster video download services for journalists, Donovan said.

Page 2: Security concerns as well