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Friday, 03 September 2010 13:31

Microsoft Tech.Ed 2010 network shouldered the load

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Sydney might have hosted the 'best ever' Olympic Games back in 2000, but Microsoft Tech.Ed 2010 held last week on the Gold Coast was the best ever as far as the event's technology manager Jorke Odolphi is concerned.


Odolphi, who spends most of the year as web platform architect evangelist with Microsoft Australia, told iTWire that the conference was "our best Tech.Ed ever" from an infrastructure perspective. There was zero downtime, and the "wireless [network] was rock solid." Furthermore, feedback from attendees was "overwhelmingly positive."

With around 3000 people at the event, wireless use peaked at around 1300 devices simultaneously connected. "[The network] could have handled three times as many devices," said Odolphi.

A significant change introduced for this year's event was the use of the IPv6 protocol. "We saw a fairly good uptake," Odolphi said, but there was only 23GB of IPv6 traffic compared with 1553GB of IPv4 traffic.

"There's not much content out there to consume [from IPv6 servers]," he explained. For example, while Facebook's main servers are accessible via IPv6, the associated content delivery network is still IPv4 only. So if someone turns off IPv4 and uses Facebook "it looks like a train wreck" according to an anonymous Microsoft engineer.

Active Directory broadcasts plus Google and YouTube access accounted for most of the IPv6 traffic on the Tech.Ed network generated by attendees. Still, "it was a good experiment," said Odolphi.

But there were some network-related issues - please read on.




Odolphi and his team had few problems to deal with during the course of the event. They did spend some time tracking down rogue Wi-Fi access points - attendees were specifically asked not to operate access points (including 3G wireless routers) or ad hoc wireless networks to avoid channel congestion.

There were also a few cases of network misuse such as running BitTorrent, but that was dealt with by identifying the individuals concerned and then sending polite SMS messages asking them to desist. Odolphi's team have some ideas for improving the tracking process next year.

Another change on the cards is to make external routing more diverse. Connectivity to the outside world is via a 500Mbps link from Telstra with a secondary 100Mbps connection from Over The Wire. The latter is normally reserved for use by session presenters and other production traffic, and the Gold Coast Convention and Exhibition Centre's permanent 100Mbps Telstra link is available for failover.

One potential problem that has now been identified is that there is some commonality between Telstra's and Over The Wire's upstream providers. For example, all traffic between the event and microsoft.com was routed via Vocus. The Tech.Ed network team are investigating ways of achieving truly diverse routing, but this may require the use of a third provider.

Asked how he felt about reprising his role as event technology manager in 2011, Odolphi said he wouldn't know until early next year if it was going to be his responsibility again, but "I'm looking forward to it."

 


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Stephen Withers

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Stephen Withers is one of Australia¹s most experienced IT journalists, having begun his career in the days of 8-bit 'microcomputers'. He covers the gamut from gadgets to enterprise systems. In previous lives he has been an academic, a systems programmer, an IT support manager, and an online services manager. Stephen holds an honours degree in Management Sciences and a PhD in Industrial and Business Studies.

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