G20 needed fibre network to avoid delegate shirt-fronting

The G20 network needed fibre services with more than 15Mbps download speeds to keep delegates, media, and volunteers happy, according to the Australian Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet.

The G20 network servicing more than 7,000 world leaders, delegates, and media over two days in Brisbane this month required the backing of fibre to ensure that everyone had adequate download speeds over the network.

The Group of Twenty leaders summit was held in Brisbane earlier this month, hosting a number of the world's major leaders, including US President Barack Obama, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Chinese President Xi Jinping, French President Francois Hollande, and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The task of organising the event was the responsibility of the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, which is normally tasked with supporting Prime Minister Tony Abbott. This meant that the agency was not equipped to build the large network required for the event over the two days, and the department's deputy secretary Elizabeth Kelly said that Dimension Data was brought on to host the IT and network for the G20 on behalf of the department.

"We're certainly not a large IT shop, and our corporate systems are very modest, with very limited scalability," Kelly told a Dimension Data event in Parliament House on Monday.

"At the outset, it was clear we simply did not have the internal IT capacity to deliver an event on this scale [and] it didn't make sense for us to invest in large amounts of money in IT infrastructure for the delivery of a two-day event."

Kelly said that the department "didn't have the bandwidth" to deliver the IT support for the G20 within DPMC.

"The IT system can't fail when the world is watching; particularly when we have 2,500 international journalists whose perspective on the entire event could have been shaped by poor download speeds and the inability to log on," she said.

"The media centre could have been a hot bed of dissatisfaction and broody media discontent. Instead, it was a triumph, and we received fabulous feedback."

In choosing to go with Dimension Data's managed service known as GNet, the department provided high-speed internet access to delegates via kiosks across the G20 area in Brisbane.

There were 100 kilometres of cable to provide access to 30,000 devices over the two-day period, 700 concurrent thin client desktop sessions, 300 access points, and 112 Dimension Data workers responsible for two managed cloud platforms.

"GNet not only met, but exceeded, our expectations," Kelly said.

The department indicated at the event that fibre had been used for the links in order to ensure the quality of the services to the event over the two-day period, and speeds on the virtual desktops and mobile devices were over 15Mbps.

In the two days, there was more than 8TB of data transmitted over the network.

Josh Taylor travelled to Canberra as a guest of Dimension Data.