Whistler.com in training for expected increase in traffic for 2010 Olympics

Vancouver still has time to prepare for the 2010 Olympic Games, but a local online property is taking steps now to prepare for a considerable increase in customer activity.

Whistler.com has tapped Fusepoint Managed Services to handle its entire IT infrastructure, including hardware, operating

systems and database applications. Whistler.com provides reservations and resort information for visitors travelling to the popular vacation spot.

The company has already moved over its Web server, database and e-mail server to Fusepoint’s Vancouver data centre. Over the next few months, Fusepoint will also be implementing a virtual private network so Whistler.com’s designers can connect securely and software engineers can connect to update existing software. This is still Whistler.com’s busy season, so that work likely won’t be completed until mid-spring.

Chad Nantais, Whistler.com’s IS manager, said the company had initially been looking at Vancouver’s Peer 1 Network and Rackspace in Texas, but had already been working with Fusepoint for colocation services.

“”We were using their bandwidth and availability, but they weren’t managing our boxes at all,”” he said.

Nantais said he is beginning to study other places that have hosted the Olympics in order to gauge the pressure on its IT infrastructure, but he said Fusepoint has already helped with the surge in traffic since the bid was announced last summer.

“”It’s pretty much Wild West — we don’t know what the traffic is going to be,”” he said. “”We can project it all we want, but we need to know that the availability is going to be there.””

Fusepoint president and CEO Robert Offley said his firm has hosted other customers planning major Web casts or portals for the World Cup, which has provided the necessary experience to assist Whistler.com. In some cases, Fusepoint has had to scale bandwidth 100 times within 24 hours’ notice, he said.

“”The Olympics aren’t until 2010, but we can actually help them try to size demand and build a scaleable infrastructure,”” he said.

Nantais said Whistler.com will use its remaining in-house resources to focus on mobile services and extending the functionality of its booking engine.

“”We are going to extend our information services greatly, because we’re pretty sure that’s going to be a drawing point when the Olympics come,”” he said. “”Digging deeper into information sources is the new direction.””

The sudden surge in IT demands triggered by events like the Olympics may provide an interesting test case for on-demand services, Offley said.

“”Where we see the opportunity in this overall space is with people buying IT like it’s electricity,”” he said. “”I think with a company like Whistler —- where there’s a seasonal element and rapid growth — we enable them to match their costs to their business model.””

Nantais said Whistler.com will also be turning to Fusepoint to develop and implement central authentication and management services for its portal.

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