Microsoft SharePoint Powers Olympics Portal

Microsoft's SharePoint Server will be powering a portal that more than tens of thousands of people will use to access information about the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games, the company said Thursday.

The Beijing Organizing Committee for the Olympic Games is using SharePoint for its INFO 2008 Web portal, which will provide up-to-the-minute information to press, athletes and committee partners attending the games, Microsoft said.

The company has published a case study about the deployment on its Web site and also posted details about INFO 2008 on an internal company blog, the Microsoft Enterprise Search Blog.

Microsoft originally conceived SharePoint as a portal product on which companies could build Web sites. But with its release as part of the 2007 Office System, Microsoft has expanded the product to become a hub for collaboration, document-management and business intelligence, not to mention a development platform for building custom intranet sites and other applications.

SharePoint Server also has emerged as a linchpin for its enterprise search offering. Microsoft bolstered its efforts against competitors Google and Autonomy in this area last year when it purchased a small enterprise-search vendor, Fast Search and Transfer (FAST), in January.

According to the case study, the enterprise search function of SharePoint will be a key feature of its use as the underlying technology for INFO 2008. More than 20,000 users, primarily in the media, will be using the portal to search for information about the Olympic games as they happen.

INFO 2008 is expected to have about 300,000 pages that will aggregate information from another system that tracks results of events as well as a content-management system, and it will provide content in English, Chinese and French. Most of that content on the portal will be updated every few hours; however, the event-results info and medal standings will be updated every few minutes, according to the case study.

SharePoint Server will handle all the crawling, indexing and query response, including results generation and ranking, for searches on INFO 2008, according to the case study.

To render search results, SharePoint's search engine will continually crawl Web pages in the Olympics' Game System Information Service Web site and build an index for query. The two systems communicate via Web services, according to the case study.

The organizing committee evaluated several search technologies, including Google Search Appliance, before settling on SharePoint Server 2007 to power the INFO 20008 portal, according to comments attributed to Chen Qin, a supervisor for the INFO 2008 project at the organizing committee, in the case study.

The Beijing Olympics begin on Friday and run through Aug. 24. Microsoft's MSN site also will be hosting live coverage of about 3,500 hours of events from the games.

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