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Tech Ed 2011: MS calls in emergency servers following failure

Tech Ed 2011: MS calls in emergency servers following failure

HP has delivered additional servers to rectify the scaling issues experienced at the start of the event

Microsoft IT pro evangelist and Tech Ed 2011 content owner, Jeff Alexander

Microsoft IT pro evangelist and Tech Ed 2011 content owner, Jeff Alexander

Microsoft has called in additional hardware for its annual Tech Ed conference on the Gold Coast, following a scaling issue with some of its virtual machines.

Speaking to Computerworld Australia, Microsoft IT pro evangelist and Tech Ed 2011 content owner, Jeff Alexander, said HP had delivered a number of new servers to the event as they worked to rectify the issue, but could not disclose the exact number of additional machines.

The failure occurred on Monday affecting the pre-conference technical training labs and forcing attendees to sit through PowerPoint presentations of the labs.

“We’ve had some issues with the labs ... too many machines hit the SAN, but we’re working with HP and they’re supplying more hardware,” Alexander said.

“We’re now working which each of the people affected giving them the opportunity to redo the lab as we get more resources, we’re working with them on an individual basis and making sure they’re happy, making sure they were able to get all the content they signed up for."

Attendee, Hayden McManus, said in a blog post: “The trainers all did a great job of trying to save face and deliver meaningful content to the attendees, but at the end of the day, none of us paid the aforementioned $715.00 to attend a PowerPoint slide-deck-fest."

However, in the same post, McManus noted things had improved greatly in the days since Monday.

“On arrival in my lab, I noted that the workstations we were using had been re-imaged overnight to include all labs on the local machine,” he said.

“Bleary-eyed techs were seen still working on this early in the day, and it would appear an epic all nighter had been pulled to turn the train wreck of the day before around.”

“They have clearly worked very hard to mitigate further fallout, and I for one can say they are listening to those in the blogersphere and twittersphere.”

This year’s event, with a 70/30 mix of IT professionals and developers has a similar infrastructure to previous years, using the three-year-old 1 Gigabyte (GB) fibre connection to a Telstra exchange in Brisbane with additional backup from provided by Over the Wire, which has remained untapped at this stage.

The wireless network is supported by Cisco, Alexander said, with this year’s event having a significant increase in the number of devices, connecting to the network.

“In the keynote we had 900 people concurrent wireless connection and we were still getting one millisecond ping times back to Brisbane exchange,” he said.

“People were uploading images, twittering, on Facebook and we weren’t seeing any issues with connectivity.”

The company has enlisted 24 HP BL64C blades with 96GB of memory in each in order for the presenters to upload their virtual machines. There is also 20 Terabytes of usable storage in RAID 6 with 10 Gigabit connectivity between them.

“This year there’s a big change with regards to how much we needed and the reason for that is we had the technology for virtualisation,” he said.

“It’s elasticity, it works out one workload is busy and allocates more memory and it’ll also take memory away from other workloads that aren’t busy ... whereas before we had to guestimate, we kind of put of fingers in the air and hope the wind blows the right way.”

Follow Chloe Herrick on Twitter: @chloe_CW

Follow Computerworld Australia on Twitter: @ComputerworldAU

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