How Was DrupalSouth's Internet so Awesome!?
DrupalSouth — a 100-person technical conference — had awesome internet. This is how we did it.
DrupalSouth might well be the first Drupal conference with internet that didn't suck. For the first time, I didn't hear anyone complain about connectivity or speed. Everyone had internet access! If I didn't hear about any issues you were having, or if you had any complaints or problems, please let us know in the comments.
Egressive pulled most of this together. Egressive provides both Linux and Drupal services and know a lot of people in the industry. In particular, Rob Fraser's technical networking know-how and contacts at Effusion, IOPEN, Unleash and elsewhere are what made this possible.
Thanks Rob, and thanks Egressive!
IOPEN and members of the Effusion group built a robust scalable wireless network for Kiwi PyCon 2009, just a few months earlier. DrupalSouth's wireless requirements were very similar to PyCon's. DrupalSouth was a little smaller in number of attendees. One difference was that the network data analysis and the Wireless Weather Report (see below) generating were not done on-site but 400 km away in Christchurch using a small real-time data stream from DrupalSouth. Also, Brian Chatterton of IOPEN made a few minor configuration enhancements, renamed the the networks in honour of Drupal's founder and changed the passwords.
Brian Chatterton really understands networking. Technical conferences have such demanding wifi and networking requirements that can not be tested under load ahead of time. And usually they fail. Brian's experience and knowledge has been twice-proven by Kiwi PyCon and DrupalSouth's great wifi.
R2 installed the purple VSDL cable and connection from the DrupalSouth network hub, out the window, up to the roof of Mac's Brewery, across the roof, up the wall of the NZ Stock Exchange building, through a window of TradeMe's offices, and into a spare wall-mounted network port nearby; which was re-patched directly into Citylink's fibre network in TradeMe's server and patch room.
Richard Naylor of R2 is very respected and well known in Wellington when it comes to internet connectivity. As a City Council employee in the 90s he founded the project that later became Citylink. He now runs a private consultancy with his son, specializing in video streaming, and live video recording and hosting online. R2 did the video recording and streaming for Linux.conf.au Wellington.
Richard and his network of industry and business contacts made this possible; he provided a missing link between the wifi LAN and Citylink's high-speed fibre network, temporarily extending it to the venue.
Citylink's high speed city fibre optic network in Wellington connects hundreds of businesses, buildings and data centres city-wide with fast low-latency network speeds. Karen Lindsay-Kerr at Citylink was kind enough to arrange a sponsored VLAN from TradeMe's data centre to Unleash's point of presence across town. That's fibre all the way!
Thanks Karen and thanks Citylink!
Unleash, the last point in the hardware chain, provided a high speed
connection to the Internet. They generously sponsored 100Gb of data, a 20Mb
symmetrical link, and a whole block of 256 IP addresses. (Unfortunately we
couldn't assign the public IP addresses to devices due to time constraints.)
Unleash is an ISP based in Christchurch with four data centres across New
Zealand, and nationwide network coverage with fibre, wireless and ADSL2+.
They provide virtual and dedicated hosting, co-location and high-speed
The last component is a software layer: IOPEN created a network traffic monitoring tool that collects data about the network and monitors load and resource usage. A "wireless weather report". This is useful to fix any issues if they arise (which they didn't!) and analyse network traffic to make improvements to network configuration for next time. They also made the data from tool available to users connected to the DrupalSouth network. Here is a screenshot:
Most of the companies and individuals mentioned here donated their time and services. You can see all of DrupalSouth sponsors on the sponsor page.