UEFA Euro 2012: Key ICT Partners Stay Close to the Pitch

S. O'Boyle
S. O’Boyle

Summary Bullets:       

  • Being local and having staff available to UEFA at its key sites is as critical to the organization as the ability to be a good partner that can support its ICT system.  What’s often overlooked as we get caught up in technology is that the human touch and ability to anticipate and solve problems quickly counts for a lot with customers when it comes to contract renewal time.
  • With full ownership and control of its network, Interoute offers customers high-performance services, fast provisioning times and competitive pricing.  Interoute has significant network assets spanning 100 European cities and featuring 21 MANs across Europe, as well as PoPs in Eastern Europe, which is a key requirement for UEFA.  Ownership of eight data centres and strength in hosting services has evolved into an expanded cloud services portfolio.

It’s showtime for UEFA (Union of European Football Associations), as Euro 2012 is now underway in Poland and Ukraine.  The two Eastern European countries will play host to 16 teams and an expected 1.4 million football fans over the course of the competition which happens just once every four years.  The total predicted global TV audience for Euro 2012 (including qualifiers) is 4.3 billion, and it’s not just football on the pitch, as so much work goes on behind the scenes at the big stadiums, including security, emergency services, catering to journalists and broadcasting networks and the supporting technology and communications. The International Broadcasting Center (IBC) in Warsaw is the temporary home to all the key broadcasting and press outlets covering the event as well as UEFA’s ICT team.  This is a live event where no downtime can be tolerated.  UEFA does not take chances, even with the power grid, relying on diesel generators instead to power its ICT during the event.

The pressure is on key service providers to ensure everything runs smoothly.  Interoute is a key service provider for UEFA’s ICT infrastructure during this time, hosting all applications and systems used by UEFA including its Football Administration and Management Environment (FAME), the core IT platform running services essential to UEFA, and the UEFA.com website, which will entertain over 400 million visitors during this year’s international competition season alone.

Key Interoute staff must be at hand throughout the event, which runs from June 8th until the final in Kiev on July 1st, including the key account manager for UEFA and the head of service delivery for Eastern and Central Europe.  They sit in an IT Command Centre within the IBC.  This is a UEFA requirement, as it wants any decisions to be made quickly by people in the room, with no time for calling into support lines, etc.  Another striking aspect is that application providers, network providers, hosting providers as well as UEFA’s own ICT team all sit together in the same room, working together to ensure the event goes well; it’s the ICT ecosystem in action.  As Interoute’s slogan puts it, working ‘from the ground to the cloud’ requires that all the pieces from connectivity to application hosting and delivery work well to deliver a good experience for the end user; in this case, it could be someone watching the matches on their TV or accessing UEFA.com via their iPad to check scores and fixtures.  While most companies don’t have to deal with anything as high profile as Euro 2012 with its ‘real-time, all-hands-on-deck’ requirements, you can start to see that once customers are relying on critical applications in the cloud, they will require much more of a personal relationship, as well as evidence of network providers working well with IT partners, better ICT integration, tighter SLAs and generally improved service and support from service providers.

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