Inside the Olympics' 'mission control'

While problems and controversy have found the games elsewhere, it's been smooth sailing inside the main technology center.

VANCOUVER, British Columbia--While the Winter Olympics have brought many headaches for organizers , the computing systems haven't been one of them.

In fact, things have been pretty quiet inside the low-rise building in east Vancouver where the technology operations are headquartered.

"In here, our objective is to be bored," said Atos Origin's Magnus Alvarsson, one of those in charge of overseeing the Olympics' IT setup . And from where he sits, just outside the computer-filled room that is the equivalent of NASA's mission control, things have been just about as uneventful as he could hope for.

Among the biggest problems have been minor things such as people forgetting their password or moving computers from one location to another at a venue. "It shows up on our monitoring that someone is unplugging something," Alvarsson said.

His team also had to move some wiring at the luge site when the course was rerouted after the death of a Georgian athlete.

"They moved the start point a little," he said. "We had to re do a little bit of cabling."

Although the Games are still just a few days old and workers continue to monitor things, Alvarsson said his thoughts are starting to turn to the process of taking out the massive amounts of computing and networking gear installed at spots throughout Vancouver and Whistler.

"We know that the solution we put in place works," he said. "Now it has to be something very unforeseen like an outside agent or a power outage for there to be a technology issue."

Sure there have been controversies over cauldrons , weather woes, and snow-lacking slopes , but Alvarsson said nothing has been in his domain, not even the glitch in the opening ceremonies that left part of the Olympic cauldron unable to be lit.

"I'm very happy to say we have nothing to do with the hydraulics," he said. "We only deal with the information technology."

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    During her years at CNET News, Ina Fried has changed beats several times, changed genders once, and covered both of the Pirates of Silicon Valley. These days, most of her attention is focused on Microsoft. E-mail Ina.

     

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