An incomplete IT dream at Real Madrid's Bernabeu

Real Madrid has some grand ambitions for a high-tech Bernabau, but it seems key pieces of the jigsaw are missing...

CASE STUDY Real Madrid have been known to chuck inordinate sums of money at twinkle-toed footballers. In recent years, spending sprees haven't brought back the glory days. Even with Jose Mourinho at the helm, the club is still playing second fiddle to Barcelona.

At least Los Merengues should have a more high-tech stadium though. Thanks to a deal with Cisco, even if the likes of Ronaldo and Kaka aren't dominating on the pitch, fans will be appeased with the exciting mobile experiences they will be able to enjoy at the Bernabeu.

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The club's IT team and the networking giant have been working on implementing some Cisco Connected Sports Solutions to give fans more to do once in the stadium other than watching the game. End users will be able to log-on and access apps for interacting with the stadium, whilst HD video will be on display in the stadium, meaning you'll be able to spot what interesting new hairdos players are sporting in really fine detail.

This is one IT project with a few missing pieces right now.

The Connected Stadium Wi-Fi network should provide improved non-data services too. Cisco thinks that by off-loading all data traffic through the cellular network, bandwidth will be freed up for phone calls and texts.

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A trip to the Bernabau should soon be a more immersive experience. But 'should' and 'soon' are the operative words here. This is one IT project with a few missing pieces right now.

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No end in sight?

Despite the promise of a fantastic IT project, all is not as rosy as it seems at the Bernabeu. Planning hasn't been perfect. For starters, even though Cisco was keen to push out a release this week, the initiative isn't complete yet and there is no confirmed end-date.

"Cisco and Real Madrid are working together to define the optimal implementation schedule, one that takes into consideration all planned events at the stadium," said Stuart Hamilton, director for business development in sports and entertainment at Cisco. "Unfortunately, we do not have an exact date at this stage."

Bernabeu 2

Real Madrid hasn't figured out how it is going to market the service either. It appears the planning phase didn't look at the whole picture.

"[The] business model is now being defined and we cannot exclude any scenario. The range of possibilities is huge and we should be accurate in the proposal we launch to spectators," said Real Madrid CIO Enrique Uriel.

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"What is really sure is that either spectators or visitors will need to log-in in an application that will launch all the services."

What services though? There's been a lack of detail on what the Cisco set-up is actually supporting. Whilst there will be ways to interact with the stadium, neither Real Madrid or Cisco have been forthcoming in what format this will be delivered. They say apps, but there has been no mention of what these apps will do.

Of course, Cisco simply provides the networking back-end for the entire solution. It seems it's Real Madrid that hasn't quite figured out what the whole shebang will look like. When asked what other vendors had supplied infrastructure for the project, Hamilton said that was "still to be determined."

Uriel said the project was "the result of an actual study of the scenario and all details have been considered in the design phase." Yet the admittances that certain decisions have not been made indicate the entire project, from its design to its implementation, was not outlined from the start.

The networking side has been dealt with, it's just other pieces of the jigsaw are lacking. Do the Real Madrid faithful care about the quality of the network though? No. They just want to tuck into the potentially exciting services that the overall deployment will offer.

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