Cloud Firsts in the Summer Games in Rio

Wellington Lordelo


This year’s Summer Games in Rio have seen a number of firsts in the world of sports. However, Rio has also been the site of many Olympic firsts in cloud computing that are transforming how the Game’s organizers and their IT partners are managing and broadcasting the worldwide event.

For the first time, many of the Games’ IT systems are being managed in a cloud environment. Leading this transformation is Atos SE, the IT partner for the Olympics since 1992. Atos has embraced the cloud to speed competition results and other critical data to any platform, anywhere.

“60% of our operations have moved into the cloud,” said Shailesh Chauhan, technical and IT security manager for Atos.

According to Atos, Rio is serving as an important bridge to the next Games, which will be 100% cloud-based. The trend of IT service providers helping the entertainment and media industry harness the cloud continues to grow as the global demand for digital media content increases.

A Better View

Atos provides the Games’ management systems that support the planning and operation of more than 300,000 sports entries and qualifications as well as a recruitment portal for 50,000 volunteers. Atos also provides the digital information systems that deliver real-time results to the media and Olympic and Paralympic organizations. Its new Olympic Video Player is not only giving viewers the real-time results, but also statistics, biographies and social media conversations for the live sporting events in one, integrated screen. These results can also be seen via another first, the only 8K “super hi-vision” TV broadcast of the Games via Japan’s public broadcaster NHK.

Michèle Hyron, Atos’ chief integrator for the Games in Rio, said the company’s systems are allowing “for the instantaneous reporting and beaming of 6,000 hours of Olympic Games coverage to the world through both more traditional television means and digitally to billions of laptops, tablets and smartphones.”

Building a Championship Cloud Ecosystem

The migration of such a complex, worldwide event to the cloud is unprecedented and a true testimony to the IT and entertainment and media industries’ increasing confidence in the cloud’s performance, scalability, security and cost-effectiveness. In fact, when it came to efficiency and cost savings, Atos was able to dramatically reduce the number of servers required to support the 2016 Games. For the 2012 Games in London, Atos needed 1,000 servers. In Rio, it is only using 250.

Of course, none of this would be possible without the support of a robust, collaborative ecosystem of networking and cloud partners. This includes Embratel, a Tier 1 telecommunications company. The Brazilian company is leveraging the telecommunications infrastructures they created for the 2014 World Cup to support the Summer Games in Rio.

According to Marcello Miguel, director of Embratel, the company will leave “one of the world’s most modern telecom structures” as a legacy to the population of Rio after the Games.

Microsoft also has a prominent role in the games, broadcasting news from the Olympics using its Azure cloud platform. The company is hosting three websites for the games: one for the torch relay and two for the results of the Olympic and Paralympic competitions. It is expected that over the Games’ two and a half weeks, 12 billion web pages will have been viewed, with 60% of them via mobile devices. Microsoft is also providing the streaming service for NBCUniversal and’s record-breaking, 4,500 hours of online content. As a result, streaming viewing is up 266% over the 2012 Games.

“We always strive to deliver more content in real time to more channels and devices around the world,” said Scott Guthrie, executive vice president of the Cloud and Enterprise Group at Microsoft.

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