The Technology of SCALE8x – A Post Event Review. PART – 2

Friday, 12. March 2010

The Technology of SCALE8x – A Post Event Review. PART – 2

This is the second installment all about the technologies used for SCALE8x. The first installment dealt with the services that the technology group has setup and maintains for the event year round. This installment will cover the pre-show setup that went into the technologies that were used at the show.

For most of the tech committee volunteers, setup started the Thursday before the show. That’s for most volunteers. For a select few, setup started as soon as the venue was selected.

Traversing the catacombs of the venue.

Before the ink was even dry on the venue contract, the different tech leaders descend on the venue to calculate and plan out how they would deliver the infrastructure required by the vendors, speakers, and attendees.

Unlike most shows, volunteers provided all the A/V and networking infrastructure for the event. We also required more power in more places then most venues are used to providing, but we’d been at the Westin LAX before, and they knew what to expect.

Even though we had been at the Westin before, we still had to inspect all the wiring closets and review all the power outlet locations to verify they hadn’t changed anything since we were there last. We did find some changes, but they were basically improvements to their wiring.

Designing a network to handle the masses.

The next step, was to sit down and design the wired LAN. This is actually my job. Up until SCALE4x, we were able to get away with a single monolithic network. When we held SCALE4x we quickly realized that we had really exceeded the threshold of booths that supported one LAN. Why? Because users make silly mistakes. They do things, or set things up on the network that they don’t think effect others, but when introduced, break the entire LAN. Somewhere between SCALE3x and SCALE4x, we added enough booths to the show, that it became too difficult to isolate these mistakes and correct them in a timely manner. So ever since, we have configured a distinct, isolated network for each booth. For SCALE8x, we exceeded 100 distinct VLANs.

Once we had the floor plan for the expo floor, Mike Maki kicked into gear to get all the wiring mapped out and ready for the show. This year, Mike took the Lead for the Tech Committee, allowing me to center on some of the business issues of SCALE.

Having this many networks, requires quite a bit of planning and configuration to deliver support services to each network. We provided DHCP, DNS, NTP, and Firewall services for every network, as well as adding IPv6 to the mix.

Wireless for the attendees.

Wireless was completely re-evaluated and re-designed this year. Thanks to David Lang, we actually had some of the best wireless coverage that we every had at SCALE. This year, we split the wireless into two different networks. We had an ‘A’ and a ‘B/G’ network. David also did a full electronic survey this year, and the results were astounding!

Internet Connectivity.

This year, we really had problems getting enough bandwidth into to hotel. Although we had planned to have multiple Internet providers, we were unable to secure anyone other then SCALE’s good friend and sponsor, Digilink Networks. We have always split the network into several QOS groups to try to balance the available bandwidth to all the exhibitors and attendees, but even with our best efforts and planning, it appears we ran over the edge most of the weekend. From the start of the show Friday morning, till we pulled the plug on Sunday night, we ran at 100% utilization. More on that in the next installment.

Audio / Visual.

Unlike most shows, volunteers provide pretty much all the A/V needs. Tom King sets his group of volunteers to task at implementing all the P.A. and recording equipment for all the speaker tracks at the show. This is no small task. Tom starts out with nothing more then a loosely assembled idea of what speakers will be in which rooms, and has to provision all the equipment and man power to make every presentation a success. The A/V volunteers load up a rental truck on Thursday, and drags every last stitch of equipment we use for the entire weekend over 100 miles to get the best price for the show. The planning to make sure you have every single cable and plug you need to put on a show of this size, with all the last minute changes, is unbelievable. My hat is off to this group!

The Load In.

Like a group of locus, the different Tech groups descend on the hotel, setting up the core network, registration, wireless, A/V, and all the rest of the services that were behind the scenes at SCALE8x. To all the volunteers, I tip my glass…

— Stu


Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.