While the 2010 soccer world cup is predicted to bring a massive surge in activity to South Africa’s entertainment, travel and tourism sectors, the steps many organisations have had to take in order to become ‘FIFA compliant’ are onerous to say the least.

Instead of simply seeking to comply with FIFA’s technical requirements, a number of organisations have chosen to use it as an opportunity to leapfrog their technological capabilities.
And there’s probably no better example of this in practice than the transformation Ellis Park (Coca Cola Park) stadium and its management company, Ellis Park World of Sport have undergone over the past year.
“So, while we had several changes to effect in order to comply with FIFA’s requirements for 2010 – most notably the installation of a fibre-optic ring network with full redundancy, and a communications hub through which all forms of digital communication could be routed – was significant,” says Paul Appalsamy, CEO of Ellis Park World of Sport.
During the course of last year Ellis Park World of Sport had already decided to substantially upgrade its server infrastructure.
“We also decided to relocate our offices and perform a general facelift of the stadium, including replacing the seating, ablution areas, meeting rooms, VIP and VVIP hospitality areas and along with that some of the high-end technological solutions.
“So in the same way you undertake any large task, we tackled the upgrade in the context of functional areas and related requirements,” he says.
Rohil Dayaram, projects manager at Think iT Solutions says the first phase of the upgrade centred on Ellis Park World of Sport’s server infrastructure, since this was where the mission critical systems required for running a match-day resided, as well as the data and applications required for the day to day running of the stadium.
“To minimise disruption, we chose to carry the server upgrade out while the company’s move of premises was taking place and successfully provisioned and switched over the new hardware within seven days,” Dayaram says.
The project consisted of a migration from Windows Server 2003 to 2008 platform, deployment of Microsoft’s Forefront security solution, overseeing the migration of line of business application, from the old to the new environment and desktop endpoints and their data to a new platform.
“Four days after starting the project, the migration had taken place and users were able to log onto the new servers and access their information with ease,” Dayaram says.
Over the next three days, he says, Think iT’s deployment team finalised the migration, ensuring users could access their information in the same way they were able to before, that their preferences were identical to how they were before and that no additional issues had crept out of the woodwork.
“The migration was concluded in the time agreed upon and with Think iT’s assistance, we moved directly onto the upgrade of the stadium,” Appalsamy adds.
“The familiarity Think iT already had with our IT environment and the insight it had into the plans we had put in place, made it predisposed to assisting us with the upgrade,” Appalsamy continues.
Dayaram says that Think iT took Ellis Park World of Sport through its entire upgrade, first helping it specify the equipment and services needed to transform the stadium and its management and then ensuring suppliers were adequately briefed and capable of carrying out the tasks at hand.
“This meant we were conducting numerous meetings every week and checking the status of the sub projects with the various cabling companies, video and audio specialists and of course, the laying the fibre-optic ring around the stadium.
“Looking back, without Think iT’s involvement, we wouldn’t have been nearly as successful in our management server environment, as we were,” Appalsamy says.
“And since all of the consulting services carried out for Ellis Park were covered by our existing agreement, it worked out substantially more cost effective than usual,” Dayaram adds.
“Think iT’s valuable opinions, strong understanding of technology and ability to spot possible conflicts early on, helped us keep things on track and avert any disasters.
“Add to that the fact that Think iT will have staff onsite at every sporting event during the FIFA 2010 soccer world cup, we’re more than satisfied with that the job required of us, will get done successfully. We look forward to a long-term future relationship,” Appalsamy concludes.