Interop in the city that never sleeps – 2013 edition

There is something strange about showing up the week before a trade show, arriving at a mostly empty Convention Center to help build the network infrastructure. Firstly this involves a lot of walking, because Convention Centers are large by nature and the awesome and sometimes crazy loud technology that is used to drive the network is hidden in far-flung corners. The strangeness I refer to, is that the landscape changes rapidly over time as a maze of booths and other temporary structures are erected between you and what should be a well worn path to the closet and/or rack you’ve visited many times.  Like a rat in a  maze you are forced to solve the A to B problem over and over again while some mad scientist watches rubbing their hands together and sinisterly muttering “they’re learning” under their breath.Interop 2013, NYC

Also you don’t get a lot of sleep. The NOC team at Interop is a social lot and the urge to “hang” after work until late is fairly strong. They do put in long hours with an early start each day.  When technical challenges arise there can be high levels of pressure. Despite this, if you ever get the chance to join the well-oiled machine of volunteers and vendors who design and implement the biggest/fastest/awesome-est temporary network around I highly recommend it.

This year, like the couple before, Opengear brings a level of infrastructure management to the network in ways you would and wouldn’t expect. Along with the out-of-band network maintenance we’re known for providing, there is also the initial configuration access we provide to switch and router jockeys who may not have a path to their device yet. The most interesting feature of the Interop network is that it is temporary, and as such has to be installed, configured and evolve at an unusual speed. While the show itself takes just under a week, the network has to appear solid as though it was always there and fast enough to impress the average punter who is walking the floor trying to work out where to go for lunch on their smart phone … as well as the more discerning bandwidth vampire.

So back to that walking thing I initially brought up. One thing that’s better than having to walk a quarter mile between a desk in the NOC and Guest Registration on a regular basis is to have an Opengear Infrastructure Manager call home to you over a 4G LTE modem, so even when a cable drops out, or a tradesmen accidentally unplugs an intermediate piece of equipment to plug in a power tool, you can quickly open a browser, or spin up a terminal and resolve the problem without wasting any unnecessary calories.