Ede told me about several other interesting challenges associated with running the London 2012 Olympic website.
Forecasting usage and ensuring performance at the forecast levels. Apparently, there were many, many meetings about total use. It would have be easy to predict a very large number, but in a "cheap and cheerful" environment, over-provisioning "just in case" is a non-starter.
Testing performance and robustness at scale. While over-provisioning was out, it is still necessary to confirm that the expected loads can be handled. The Olympics used the Soasta load testing service to ensure the site could manage hundreds of thousands of simultaneous users. In fact, Soasta tested up to 1 million users over the course of one hour.
The changing nature of the web itself affects the Olympics website. Every Olympics experiences the latest Web development. For the 1996 Atlanta games, it was the basic Web presence. Since the last games in Beijing, Twitter and Facebook have emerged; both can cause user "storms" and an explosion in traffic. Russ anticipates that as British athletes participate in the London games, and particularly when they contend for medals, the website will experience very high traffic loads.
News: London Internet Exchange Fortifies Internet Infrastructure for Olympics
The fact that every Olympics has to deal with something new indicates just how rapidly the Internet is evolving. It's no easy task. One new development the website hasn't been able to incorporate is supporting Instragram, as it's too new for the planning and work the website group has been doing over the past two years. One can be sure that, by the Rio de Janeiro 2016 Olympic games, there will be new developments for that website to support-perhaps some that don't even exist at all today.
I'm sure my household will be like many of yours during the games-watching TV every night to view every available event. It's likely that we'll also have other devices being used to stream other video and track Twitter and Facebook. It's quite remarkable to reflect on how rapidly delivery of information and content is changing as new Internet capabilities come along-and how quickly people adopt them and come to find them as critical to their involvement and enjoyment of the events.
Given my conversation with Ede, I also know that my appreciation for what goes into making all this information and content available is going to be much greater. It's a remarkable undertaking. I'll have my eyes wide open in late July and early August.