APEC roadshow ready to move into Sydney

Besides the 5,000 leaders, politicians, media and delegates expected to roll in to Sydney for the APEC 2007 Leaders' Summit in September, the APEC Taskforce will be literally bringing in its own IT infrastructure.

Besides the 5,000 leaders, politicians, media and delegates expected to roll in to Sydney for the APEC 2007 Leaders' Summit in September, the APEC Taskforce will be literally bringing in its own IT infrastructure.

The APEC Taskforce's general manager for technology, Gus Kollar, told ZDNet Australia that since his appointment three years ago, the Taskforce has effectively built a mobile disaster recovery unit to cater for its staff and visiting delegates at various venues over the 10 month APEC season.

As the conference moves so too do "the venue nodes", which Kollar describes as 24 rack units fitted with wheels. They contain the Taskforce's virtualised servers and a 2.5 terabyte storage shelf. Once the nodes are installed at the venue, the Taskforce synchronises its servers with those in Canberra, so staff can have access to their e-mail and home drives for example.

"Once we've re-synchronised, users at the venue can log on to the system and all their e-mail headers will pop down immediately and home drives should too, depending on how big they are," he said.

Kollar said: "The nodes are highly manoeuvrable, fit through doorways and cable up very quickly."

After finding its legacy cluster of 1650 and 2650 Dell servers were too cumbersome to transport, the Taskforce replaced them with smaller Dell 5860 servers. The Taskforce also virtualised its new servers.

Kollar said: "Virtualising the servers was difficult; that's why Microsoft was so keen to come on board. VMware have capabilities but for our requirements Microsoft was much better ... The products are the same: the licensing costs are different but once you get your head around the new operating system and virtualisation, it is quite powerful.

"We've found that virtualisation gave us lot more robustness when we had to go our there in an event and cope with uncertainty and restoring services quickly," he added.

Kollar said the APEC Taskforce's technology is "a Microsoft shop". Among the list is Microsoft Live Communications Services, SharePoint 2007 to manage event recordings and an SQL 2005 Server. The only non-Microsoft software used is Cold Fusion and Adobe for graphics.

"Part of the arrangement with Microsoft was for it to assist migrating files from SharePoint 2003 to 2007," he said.

Since June the Taskforce has relocated seven times. It has already roamed to Port Douglas, Cairns, Sydney, Adelaide and other cities.

Kollar said that its services are securely zoned. Media and delegates will use the public-facing system and should enjoy access to the Internet "without too many restrictions". The Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) operates between the public-facing system and the secured system used by Taskforce staff.

Kollar said while his team's primary role is to service the Taskforce itself, service logs show that a third of requests come from visitors who demand utility computing.

"Often delegates will come along with a four- to five-year-old Thinkpad where the drivers have not been updated and they want to use wireless but can't log on," said Kollar.

Those with cutting edge technology can expect to have difficulties connecting. He said he's had to take an "adequate is good enough" approach to meeting the full spectrum of needs.

"Leading edge technologies introduce risk,"" said Kollar. "We don't put anything on production until it's tested. As we get closer to the event, users will want this or that to work but if we can't test it, we can't guarantee the service."

Show Comments