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Beijing 2022: The First Olympics on the Cloud Featured

Beijing 2022: The First Olympics on the Cloud white and blue round metal ornament on green grass field

The 2022 Winter Olympics are scheduled to begin in Beijing, China on February 4th. The Beijing Winter Olympics Organizing Committee has partnered with Alibaba Cloud to implement what they are advertising as the first “Olympics on the cloud”. Let’s take a look at some of the ways cloud technology will influence how the games are held and consumed by the global audience. 

An Alternative to a Temporary IT Environment 

In previous iterations of the Olympics, the IT infrastructure and environment required for their support were constructed before the games by the Olympics Organizing Committee. After the games when it was no longer needed, this temporary IT environment was disassembled. The construction and dismantling of this impermanent entity wasted resources and increased the amount of time necessary to prepare for and wind down games. 

The organizers of the Beijing Winter Olympics have successfully migrated the core operating systems necessary to produce the games to the Alibaba Cloud. This includes a wide range of systems including those that are used for broadcasting events and tabulating results. Other critical operational elements now residing in the cloud track athlete arrival and departure, medical issues, transportation, and accommodations.  

Using cloud technology also fits nicely with China’s goal of holding a Green Olympics. The cloud computing resources employ natural air cooling rather than mechanical solutions, reducing thermal energy consumption by over 70%. Shutting down the Olympic IT infrastructure will simply be a matter of returning resources to Alibaba so they can be used for other projects resulting in a minimal environmental impact.  

How the OBS Cloud Will Affect Broadcasts  

The Olympic Broadcasting Service (OBS) is the entity responsible for presenting the games to the public. They provide coverage and services to Rights Holding Broadcasters (RHBs) who have acquired the exclusive rights to broadcast the Games in their country or territory. Working with Alibaba, OBS is launching the OBS Cloud which is designed to facilitate the more efficient and manageable distribution of the content they generate. 

The OBS cloud is a suite of cloud services tailored to the requirements of data-intensive broadcast workflows. Broadcasters can integrate their private cloud installations with Alibaba Cloud technology to virtualize broadcast systems and network platforms. The availability of front and back-end solutions will enable RHBs to reduce costs while providing a more informative and enjoyable fan experience. The OBS cloud also makes over 9,000 content clips available for broadcast by RHBs. 

What About the Fans? 

The reliance on cloud technology will provide benefits for viewers of the Beijing Olympics. OBS produces sports coverage in Ultra High Definition (UHD) High Dynamic Range (HDR), providing enhanced detail and a more immersive fan experience. Audiences are able to enjoy new camera angles and 360-degree replays as well as other cutting-edge technologies made possible through the use of cloud platforms.  

An example is 3D Athlete Tracking (3DAT) technology first used in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. The 3DAT systems provide viewers with overlay visualizations and next-gen graphics by processing standard video with artificial intelligence (AI) solutions. Real-time event data is used to display advanced statistics and furnish fans with interesting information. 

The cloud will impact every aspect of the 2022 Beijing Olympics. The cooperative characteristics of the OBS cloud provide a roadmap for future collaborative ventures based on the versatility of the cloud.

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 Robert Agar

I am a freelance writer who graduated from Pace University in New York with a Computer Science degree in 1992. Over the course of a long IT career I have worked for a number of large service providers in a variety of roles revolving around data storage and protection. I currently reside in northeastern Pennsylvania where I write from my home office.

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