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Tech Industry

2008 Olympics could go open source

International Olympic Committee's tech partner proposes a switch to open-source tech for the Beijing games.

    The 2008 Beijing Olympic Games could switch to an open-source technology platform under proposals to be considered by the International Olympic Committee.

    The open-source move will be recommended by the IOC's technology partner, Atos Origin, under the guidance of subcontractors including Hewlett-Packard and IBM, according to Claude Philipps, program director at Atos Origin for the 2006 Turin Winter Olympics.

    "We have a plan to propose this for Beijing. It will save money on the licenses," he said.

    After Atos presents the plans to the IOC in a formal proposal, the committee will make the final decision.

    But support costs could hinder the open-source switch, Philipps said. "The issue might be support because, especially in China, you don't have all the companies we have in Europe and the U.S."

    The information technology behind the Olympics is a massive operation involving some 1,200 IT team members, including 800 volunteers, who run 450 Intel-based servers and Unix boxes, 4,700 PCs and 700 printers.

    The inflexible deadlines and the need for security for the Olympic Games mean the technology choices are usually quite conservative. This led to wireless networks being banned for previous games but that, too, could change for Beijing in 2008.

    "There is no wireless in Turin (for next year's Winter Olympics) but there will be in Beijing," said Massimo Dossetto, IT security architect for the 2006 Turin games. "The technology has become mature, and we will use Cisco's network admin control."

    Radio frequency identification technology is also being looked at to help keep track of PCs and other IT equipment during the games, but biometrics and smart cards are not on the agenda, Dossetto said.

    "We would need to deploy a huge number of devices to read them, and just for one event it is not cost-effective," he said.

    Andy McCue of Silicon.com reported from London.