Coffee with Computerworld: HP & the Sydney Convention and Exhibition Centre's Ross Horlyck

Computerworld sat down with HP & the Sydney Convention and Exhibition Centre's Ross Horlyck for a chat about networking

Ross Horlyck takes care of the IT for the Sydney Convention and Exhibition Centre

Ross Horlyck takes care of the IT for the Sydney Convention and Exhibition Centre

Ross Horlyck, has been part of some incredible events during his tenure at Sydney Convention and Exhibition Centre, Darling Harbour. As infrastructure manager, he oversees some of the biggest events in the country. From World Youth Day to the Motor Show, from Amway China to Microsoft Tech.Ed, the centre has played host to all manner of customers with all manner of requirements.

Georgina Swan spoke to Sydney Convention and Exhibition Centre Darling Harbour infrastructure manager, Ross Horlyck and HP ProCurve sales manager, Robert Post about what it take to keep customers connected.

Can you tell us about your network setup?

Ross Horlyck: One of the things about our network is that we’re different from most people in that they can set up a network and then leave it for 12 months and be happy with it. WE’re changing our network daily depending on the events. So we have something in the order of 1500 points through the building and an event can use any of those depending on the configuration of the room.

So there’s a large variety of places that we need to provide services to. The events vary considerable in terms of the people who are using the centre.

We do both Ethernet and wireless and we can provide multiple setups depending on what the client is after. We can provide internet connectivity and we can do that in anything from 256kbps connection right up to 10, 20,50Mbps connection depending on requirements. We have the availability to scale it up or down however we wish. We also provide networks within the event – speaker preparation – so that when an event is running we connect all the rooms they’re presenting in to a central speaker preparation area.

The speakers finish their presentations and it is loaded onto the PC in the individual rooms so they don’t have to worry about taking their USB key and making sure it’s going to work when they arrive on site. Each event has an individual network that we set up across the venue. Then we other networks such as internet cafes and internal networks for administration staff, for exhibitors and so on.

Each day is different and each requirement is different. We have a team of people who work with our clients to work out exactly what they require as part of their network.

How long is the planning process?

It’s part of the whole business that we’re in. We plan dinners, all the services that we have to provide. With international clients we’re working years ahead in terms of what their requirement are. Other times, we’re working with the organisations on site two weeks in front of the event, depending on how complex the network is. Microsoft Tech.Ed is a lot different to the Mind Body & Spirit show.

They’re the extremes that you get. Our other main issue is that the people who come to our centre vary in their technical knowledge. You have IT gurus who are setting up the networks and you have the head office sales person who need to connect back to their email. We provide support on that as well. So there are a lot of different requirements in terms of what people are asking for as services.

We also have a lot of different requirements for the type of internet connection – whether they want static IP addresses or DHCP because some want to connect from their office into our building and need an address to actually get to.

We’ve set up the network so that we can do any one of those for any port that we have on the HP switches. And that’s where HP has made it so easy for us – we have a number of VLANS which we preconfigure in all our switches and all the ports are assigned to a null VLAN and then all we have to do is allocate the individual ports to the VLAN which will give them the speed and type of connection they want.

We manage the switches down to the port level. There is about 1500 ports on the switches throughout a 45,000 square metre building. It’s quite a challenge in terms of addressing all those issues.

Can you tell me more about the configuration and the platforms that you’re using?

We’re basically using most of the 5400 chassis switches. We have about 35 of those across the building. They have a 1GB backplane. We could have gone the 10GB but they were too expensive at the time. We can run a 1GB network across the whole building through single-mode and multi-mode fibre. Then we have a large number of modules which run the wireless connections through a single ProCurve chassis.

It allows the security of the wired to be extended to the wireless. It’s one whole unit that we have to manage.

We have 45 access points – they’re controlled by the WESM (wireless edge services module) modules in the 5400. It’s one whole suite of products that does both the wired and wireless, the ability to turn ports on and off and has the flexibility to set up the networks and connections that we require.

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