From Russia to California: What the Olympics Taught Us About InteropNet

To say that Avaya networking engineers have been getting their fair share of air miles would be an understatement. As Avaya was the Official Supplier of Network Equipment for the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games, many of our most talented engineers were given the opportunity to travel to Sochi to support the network that was providing critical wired and wireless connectivity services to Olympic athletes, officials and journalists.

Although you’d think that they’d be busy supporting a network of 50,000 ports & 2,500 WiFi access points, running 36 HD video channels and 7 separate virtualized networks, they seemed to have time to check out many of the competitive events:


Avaya Core Systems Engineer Dom Rumford managed to catch a few Olympic events at Sochi 2014, including bobsledding.

The good news is while the team was checking out hockey and bobsledding, not a single severity one or two ticket was raised on the Avaya network. This was a trend that lasted the entire duration of the Games. So, in addition to Canada coming 3rd in the medal standings, this was also a reason to celebrate!

From Sochi, many of these same engineers had to travel straight to California for the hot staging of the InteropNet environment. This is the second year that Avaya has been selected to provide the backbone network for the coming Interop event in Las Vegas.

Related article: What is Avaya’s Strategy Around SDN? A Q&A with Avaya Networking’s Chief Architect, Paul Unbehagen

This got me thinking… there are a lot of similarities between InteropNet and Sochi’s network. Both are temporary networks set up for a short duration of time. While the Olympics have the eyes of the world on it, Interop has the eyes of our peers. In both cases, the network has to work flawlessly.

There are a number of reasons that our Fabric Connect technology (based on enhanced IEEE/ IETF Shortest Path Bridging) is ideally suited for these and other large scale events and why it was selected by the organizing committees of each event.

  1. Simplicity: With both networks, there are limited staff onsite, and a large reliance on vendors and volunteers. Therefore, having a network that is easy to design, operate and manage is of huge value. Our ability to deliver all network services (L2/3 routing and multicast) with a single technology, and configure those services with simple end point provisioning (rather than hop by hop) enables these highly visible networks to be run with a lean IT staff.
  2. Agility: Events are dynamic in nature, so having a technology that enables adds, moves and changes on the fly is of huge value. Again, Fabric Connect, with its ability to enact changes at the end points, only eliminates the risk of human error during change (according to ZK research, a cause of approximately 29 percent of all network downtime) and enables IT to enable new services and changes with greater speed.
  3. Resiliency: Uptime is paramount for these events. Having a streamlined, load-shared network allows for recoveries in the milliseconds in the event of a failure. In a Winter Games environment, there is always the risk of a fiber cut in an alpine venue, especially when there is not much snow (which was the case in both Sochi and Vancouver). Luckily, with fiber diversity and load-sharing between them–even without snow–technical teams can breathe easily.
  4. Secure Traffic Separation: At Sochi, we needed to support 7 different network environments over a common infrastructure. At InteropNet, we are collaborating with Axis and ONSSI to deliver high-quality video surveillance that we want isolated on its own network, separate from exhibitor and conference room traffic. Our ability to easily create separate, independent virtualized networks completely isolated from one another (a feature we call “stealth networking”) that can be set up in just a few simple commands is of huge value in both of these environments. The nice thing is these networks are completely invisible from an IP reachability perspective, making them more secure and less vulnerable to attack.

So although it’s been an action-packed month of travel for many of our engineers, there has never been a more exciting time to work in Avaya Networking.

For more details on Avaya’s role at Sochi, check out: For details on how to visit Avaya in the InteropNet NOC, email me at

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