Virtual reality will put you right in the heart of the Rio Olympics…with a little help from the data centre


In August, Rio de Janeiro will host the Olympic and Paralympic Games, promising a spectacular sporting event that channels the true spirit of fun, passion and excitement that the Latin American region is known for. Hosted for the first time in South America, this is not the only first for the Games, as it will also enable spectators from across the globe to join in with the carnival atmosphere by watching some events in 360˚.

Whether it’s joining Usain Bolt trackside for the 100m sprint or cheering on Jess Ennis-Hill in the heptathlon, viewers with a compatible VR headset will be able to watch select events live in VR, while VR footage will also be available as on-demand content to those without a headset.

While the availability of VR technology will be limited to a few select events, it does represent a defining moment for how people might view sport and entertainment in the future. With global sporting events on the horizon such as the FIFA 2018 World Cup in Russia, we can expect to see the availability of VR opening up a whole new economic and technological proposition for sports teams and the public, and organisations will inevitably seek to make the most of that. McCulloch suggests that the opportunities VR represent are immense but in order for it to realise its potential, assistance from data centres will be just as crucial.

Game changing

McCulloch stated, ‘The Rio Olympics feels very much like the start of what will be a game changing moment for how we as spectators consume sport. The idea of being trackside, up close to the athletes and hearing the roar of the crowd, all from the comfort of our homes, is no longer a thing of science fiction but, if you forgive the pun, now a virtual reality. In time, these immersive experiences will only improve and in light of this the data centre industry is arguably best placed to provide the necessary speed, connectivity and data storage capabilities needed to support this flourishing market.

‘Traditionally, data centres are already a proven solution in responding to the latest technological demands. As seen with the rise of streaming services, online gaming and increased IoT applications, data centres have effectively supported the copious amounts of data, which are now being generated by organisations of all shapes and sizes. Additionally, with rent for data centres being 30-40 per cent cheaper in the previous year, it seems highly likely that data centres will continue to provide a cost effective and viable solution.

Contingency measures

‘One of the biggest concerns VR is likely to face, particularly with the streaming of live sporting events will be the need to ensure contingency measures are factored in to prevent against loss of speed and connectivity. By being able to provide additional layers of security via the implementation of back up structures, and physical and technical facility security able to respond to network outages, this will provide that added level of reassurance.’
McCulloch also states that in order to support the growing VR market, data centres will have to upscale too.

‘As the technology continues to mature, the data centre community should be using this time to upscale their technology capabilities to handle increased demands. This should include analysing consumption patterns across different industries, to detect fluctuations as well as connectivity or security issues, which may arise. The Games will likely provide invaluable data around this, which will allow data centre operators to enhance their future proofing capabilities and build into other entertainment and sporting event planning.

‘Having dedicated fibre connections to key Internet Exchanges as well as continuously testing disaster recovery options, will enable customers to benefit from a seamless and unhindered experience, and prevent organisations suffering financially from unnecessary downtime.’

McCulloch concludes, ‘The opportunities for VR technologies are huge but the assistance from data centres will be just as important. IoT, streaming content and gaming have only increased the dependency of data centres in coping with the vast amounts of data needed to support these new technologies. VR is just another example of this and as the technology evolves and our viewing habits becoming more immersive it is imperative that the data centre community has the scalability in place to support this.’

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