The network supporting Microsoft's Tech.Ed 2010 conference will be running IPv6 (Internet Protocol version 6) for the first time.
Microsoft's own systems will be using IPv6 exclusively, and attendees are being encouraged to follow suit. Jorke Odolphi, technology manager for the event, accepts that there is a potential issue if an attendee's equipment lacks an IPv6-compatible driver, but notes that recent operating systems and most mobile phones support the newer standard, so "hopefully we'll see some uptake".
IPv4 will also be available as a fallback for those that run into problems.
Around 3000 people are expected at the event. "We're encouraging people to bring their own machines," says Odolphi, whose "day job" is web platform architect evangelist with Microsoft Australia. The number of public access PCs at the conference has been trimmed to 40, down from 300 in previous years.
Odolphi and his team devoted a lot of time last year to improving the Gold Coast Convention and Exhibition Centre's permanent network, so relatively little effort was needed this year other than the installation of a few more wireless access points and a little network tuning. Once again, a 500Mbps link will be provided by Telstra.
In addition to Wi-Fi access for delegates, Odolphi is also responsible for the infrastructure used in the training rooms, by speakers, and to showcase Microsoft technologies.
The demo network is built around three racks of HP C7000 blade servers, including 20TB of storage. "We're going to get very close to using all the storage," said Odolphi.
Around half the space will be taken up by speakers' virtual machine environments and associated files, with another several terabytes needed for the technology showcase. Much of the remainder is likely to be filled with video taken at the event.
Speakers will run their demonstrations either locally on the notebooks provided in each presentation room or on a server as appropriate for the subject. For example, Visual Studio demos will run locally. Several sessions will use desktop virtualisation, but "some things you just can't do on a blade", observes Odolphi.
The training rooms will house around 300 PCs. The big change this year is a move to server-based deployment, employing a rack of 12 "pretty much maxed out" HP DL380 servers.
Odolphi's team of four went on-site yesterday, installing the switches and configuring the network for the event. Most of the equipment is delivered directly to the site by the vendors. The exception is the demo servers, which have already been configured and are currently at a hosting provider in Brisbane so that speakers can get set up well in advance. "That's the only bit we get beforehand. The rest is done on-site," says Odolphi.
Another six people — including some that have been involved with the event for 10 years — will start work on Friday charged with "all the heavy lifting", including unpacking and physically setting up the servers and PCs. They'll have a busy weekend.
Tech.Ed 2010 is being held at the Gold Coast Convention and Exhibition Centre from Monday, 23 August and runs until Friday, 27 August.