Bandwidth Management for Live Events

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Facilitated by Tomas Krag, Refugees United

Session Description

Tomas has managed networks and bandwidth in some of the most rugged and challenging environments, from an island in Victoria Lake in Uganda to Open Source Camps in the Philippines to slow DSL connections in European cities. In this session, he'll discuss his tool set and tricks for getting the most out of network bandwidth and providing the most balanced and user-friendly connectivity . He'll also discuss his custom "event box", a Linux server configuration that he uses to shape and monitor network traffic.

Session Notes

Wireless Connectivity for Events discussion led by Tomas

Feedback, what you need, what you've done

Challenges of connectivity and bandwidth


  • very little attention to this
  • buy an expensive solution if you can or in a space that has its own solution
  • running events in spaces without their own solution, or reliable solution is common for nonprofits, but looking for identifying the real world problems for people who don't have "geeks on standby"
  • Cisco can handle a certain load, but cost is prohibitive and needs to come with a person
  • pervasive problem at big, well-funded conferences and small ones. Embarassing, but we're in good company - Salesforce, Google Dev, etc all have this problem
  • have to throw tons of money/hardware at the issue
  • so, what are the solutions for small and mid-sized events (50-500)

Issues


Backbone - DSL, often out of your control not accessible - one option - redundancy, ex. two DSLs 10 mb both, could do 3G backup (in some countries, expensive in US) - downside, cost or contract for limited use, need for short-term service - high latency - start with how much bandwidth and how many simultaneous connections, make some assumptions, do some network math to calculate your needs - establishing a short-term DSL line (say, for a few days) is really hard. local service providers don't want to do

DNS service also a problem

Router - whatever you use to connect from backbone to user - have more control

OPTIONS

- proxy - if you are asking everyone to access the same site, have a proxy set up to solve that problem. Can prioritize some traffic over others, for instance, hold back outbound messages.

- policy - such as, please switch off YouTube, don't skype. tether to phone if you can. Make simple rules that people can follow. If you have online sites that everyone needs to access, have an offline version. Can be specific that certain behavior will get you kicked off the network

- routing/monitoring - identify people you are looking at, such as whether you would have malicious users who would prove themselves by taking down the network. Alternatively, know if you are dealing with ignorant users who don't know that they could be eating up bandwidth, ex. Microsoft running updates in the background of a bad machine.

- networking

LAN/wireless - problem of # of connections increasing massively, when every attendee has a laptop plus a mobile device - problem of interference, # of channels available, dramatically drops ability of wireless - can have an open and an encrypted network, provide encrypted network only to your facilitators/presenters - low-tech solution: provide a wired connection opportunity for presenters who have specific needs, to download some big file, for instance

current recommendations for wireless and connectivity solutions: - Netgear: WNDR3700 - smallnetbuilder.com - openmesh.com - through techsoup you can get deep discounts on Cisco hardware

ways to test or what to ask to determine whether a venue has the needed set up: - can simulate connections, but can't realĺy test wireless - do you have redundancy of the network, the routers? - how many routers? - what is the equipment? - who else is on the DSL? who else is on the wireless?

In pursuit of a solution - wishing there was a box you could drop into a venue that could provide an 80% solution to most of these problems - Tomas knows someone who is working on something like this, trying to figure out the business model for it - do you rent the equipment or sell it? - other service providers - bring in hardware, bring in service providers - depends on how customized or out-of-the-box it is - could it be a hardware or a downloadable solution? - include best practices such as a policy, ten things you should consider, things you should share with your attendees - still have the human element on the user end, making sure they know how to use and can implement - there are some services that come close, but don't solve all the problems - CoovaAP - alternate firmware that comes with tools for hotels, etc. that provide timed access, login screens, etc. - can bandwidth limit on each access points, to isolate bad clients

Advice to people with networking skills - always set up a proxy server - have a good user policy - wondershaper a simple prioritization tool - m0n0wall - local DNS important

Collaborative notetaking challenges - everyone accessing tools on one site simultaneously - if you have a wiki or other tool, such as etherpad, have edits only on local version, don't run updates, or have hourly syncing only, not ongoing - proxy becomes only real solution


AND: http://twitpic.com/37fkc4