Cup Kicks Avaya Into High Gear

10 Jun 2002
They went in as underdogs but have parlayed growing experience and meticulous preparation into early success at this year's FIFA World Cup soccer tournament in South Korea and Japan. And they've never scored a goal. 
Avaya Inc., the Lucent Technologies Inc. spinoff, built the massive IP-based converged voice and data network that is supporting the international event taking place in more than two dozen locations in the Far East nations. According to officials, the project, the first of its size and scope for Avaya, includes a number of lessons for any company considering building a cutting-edge enterprise network. 
"I've treated this whole network as a normal commercial enterprise," Doug Gardner, Avaya's managing director for the World Cup program, said in a telephone interview from Sapporo, Japan. Gardner said he expects that the network will carry more traffic in one month than Avaya's typical Fortune 500 enterprise customer carries in a year. 
The IP network comprises more than 40,000 network connections at 20 stadiums, two media centers, two soccer association headquarters and hotels where players are staying. In addition to carrying data, the network handles IP phone calls and teleconferences from traditional handsets, PCs and handheld devices. 
By some estimates, four-fifths of the world's population will watch at least one of the 64 matches. The Basking Ridge, N.J., company disclosed a total of $100 million in sponsorship for this World Cup and World Cup 2006, plus the Women's World Cup next year, but officials would not say how much they spent on the network itself. Key to Avaya, officials said, is how the massive projects will ratchet up their experience — in addition to garnering them worldwide media exposure. 
So far, some say, Avaya's early success at the World Cup proves that IP can be deployed on a large scale. However, according to Chris Kozup, an analyst with Meta Group Inc., in Burlingame, Calif., it is important to note that Avaya had an unusual advantage in building from scratch and using all its own equipment.