An Olympic-sized capacity crunch

This summer, the UK is hosting what’s being billed as the world’s biggest Olympic Games yet. With businesses operating in and around Central London and the Olympic sites likely to experience considerable difficulties with access, transportation and mobile telecommunications, the organisers are advising people to work from home or take leave on the busiest dates.

By now, most organisations in London and other Olympic locations will already have a remote access solution in place but the key question is whether these solutions can maintain the necessary level of performance and security required when challenged by an event on the scale of London 2012.

With the capacity and availability of internet bandwidth and mobile networks coming under pressure, it is likely that any remote access solution relying on broadband or mobile data connectivity in and around London will be adversely impacted to the extent that there might not be sufficient bandwidth available to establish a VPN connection at times of peak traffic.

Aside from potential issues with network capacity, firms must also consider the compliance and security implications of providing remote access to a greater number of employees, especially those not used to working with the technology and who might inadvertently pose a risk.

Likewise, some forms of virtual desktop solution create an additional layer of complexity in terms of support and management, because they require that the PC located in the office be switched on and that a permanent connection with the remote device be maintained for the duration of the session.

With a wide array of remote access options available, firms must have a comprehensive understanding of their solution design requirement in order to identify which solution will work best.

A proof of concept (PoC) ensures the system specified meets the business requirement and that there are no obvious issues with the technology. Essentially the aim is to de-risk the project and ensure the firm arrives at a solution that meets its requirements, at the right price and within the required timeframe.

Ultimately, the success of a remote working solution comes down to the design requirement when assessed against cost and risk—i.e. what is the potential impact on the business if a particular number of users cannot access the corporate computing environment during an exceptional event, against the cost of the remote access solution being implemented. For example, if the business calculates that the disruption caused by the Games would mean a 20 per cent reduction in productivity at a cost of £1 million, but a remote access solution would cost £2 million to deliver, then perhaps a more pragmatic solution is needed.

By fully understanding the design requirement, assessing it against what’s available in the market and in-house skills, capabilities and current IT estate, it is possible to find the optimum balance between cost and risk. At a more granular level, with the risk factor quantified, the cost of service delivery can be tiered in respect of business priority—i.e. which services and applications need to be provided to which users to ensure the company can maintain an acceptable level of service. It’s then a case of matching the technology options to each tier of business priority to work out the overall cost to the business.