How did our Olympic (networking) team perform?

Jean-Francois Amiot, Network & Operations Director

Final medal count for Canada — 10 Gold, 10 Silver, 5 Bronze

Much like Canada’s “Own the Podium” team, this week Cybera is looking back at its performance during the Winter Olympics to determine what worked, and where we might have fallen short of networking expectations.

The graph below shows Cybera’s 1GE connection to BCNet’s Akamai cache the morning of the opening ceremonies on February 7th. Prior to the Olympics, we had received information from CBC saying that streaming of the event would not be using their standard caches. However, because Akamai operates as a nimble organization, it decided last-minute to use its cache to stream the Olympics.

Olympics graph1

On Cybera’s peering network, we always prefer to disconnect content if we notice congestion. This does not mean that the content becomes unaccessible. Members still have other ways to view their content — either through Cybera’s Internet Buying Group or their own commercial networking arrangement.

Ironically, Cybera recently nearly doubled the capacity of its connection to BCNet to 1GE. Alas, it still wasn’t enough to compensate for the Olympic streaming over Akamai. So, with the information we had at the time, we decided to disconnect Akamai for the whole duration of the Olympics.

Here’s diagram of our internet consumption during the Olympics:

olympics graph2

In this figure you can see that network use doubled compared to the week before the Olympics. This is inline with a CBC news report on February 19th that it had streamed 8.3 million hours of video to date — the highest online viewership it had ever had for the Olympics. A distinct increase in Cybera’s network activity is seen on the Friday of the Opening Ceremonies, with noticeable peaks during the major hockey events, such as the men’s first game against Norway.

olympics graph3

In this graph, you can see more details on what events viewers were interested in. The sharpest rise in network utilization begins at 10:00 am on February 19th, and promptly ends at around 12:30 pm — the start and end times of the hockey games. Interestingly, the peak on February 20th is noticeably wider. This is because the women’s hockey finals went into overtime.

You’ll also notice a little shoulder on February 20th and a decrease in network usage just before the hockey game — this reflects the gap between the women’s curling final and the beginning of the women’s hockey game.

Finally, notice that there is very little bandwidth utilization during the men’s gold medal hockey game: confirming that most of our members do not work on Sundays.

This analysis is a good indication of how the Olympics will be viewed in the future, and what networks need to do to prepare.

As for Cybera’s long term fix, we’re working with Akamai to bring one of their cache appliances to the Alberta Internet Exchange. We will then have over 10GE capacity — which we hope will cover us for all future live-streamed events!

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