Keeping score at the London 2012 Olympics

Millions of sports fans will be relying on the BBC and Press Association websites to keep them posted about the events at the London Olympics. Caroline Donnelly takes a look under the bonnet at the IT supporting them.

The MarkLogic technology is an operational database that makes it easier for pieces of information the name of an athlete and their past performance statistics, for instance to be linked on both websites.

"When an author or journalist creates an article, simply by tagging a few key phrases, you can just upload that information and the MarkLogic system will work out where that page needs to reside [on the website]," explained Pomeroy.

We will have support services available, should the ultimate catastrophe happen.

"We automatically create those links, and that cuts down the amount of manual intervention associated with every [video or article] that is uploaded."

Put simply, this means the BBC and Press Association can upload large volumes of data in much shorter amount of time.

Sharing tips

The BBC and the Press Association's content is often franchised out to other media organisations, which puts commercial pressure on both firms to get the delivery of their content right.

"The BBC has [spoken publically] about the fact they are shaving 25 per cent of their overall [IT] infrastructure costs, but at the same time they want to double the amount of traffic their site receives," Pomeroy explained.

"Enriching the user experience is one way of achieving that."

The Press Association is the "custodian of most of the UK's sports data," added Pomery. This means it has to track "every touch of every ball by every player in every match" on a Saturday afternoon during the thick of the football season, for example.

"Betting firms are one of the Press Association's major subscribers, making it the master hold of all of the data that the gambling industry pays out on. It is a major commercial responsibility," he said.

Should disaster strike and the sites go down during the event, Pomeroy assured IT Pro his team will lend a helping hand.

"The Press Association and the BBC have pretty credible IT organisations. What we provide is expertise around our product," he said.

"The architecture they have put together has disaster recovery and high availability built into it. So, if a disc goes down, it self-recovers or finds another one to copy the data over to, without any operator intervention.

"But, we will also have support services available, should the ultimate catastrophe happen," Pomeroy added.

Olympic legacy

Once the Olympics are over, Pomeroy claimed the BBC is planning to adopt the DSP architecture across its general news, knowledge and, possibly, its children's sites.

"For the BBC, in particular, this is part of an on-going journey. There are many other phases to this project. We've [already had] the European Championships, which they managed with our product, and couple of years after that, you've got the World Cup," he said.

"Technologically, this is interesting stuff. But, [for the BBC and the Press Association], it is a revenue generator because it allows them to provide a richer experience to their subscribing customers."

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