On the Road Again: InteropNet 2014

In late March, I once again traveled to Las Vegas to support the installation the temporary high-speed network that is InteropNet 2014. InteropNet provides high-speed network connectivity to the Interop attendees and exhibitors and supports the Expo floor, Conference sessions and wireless access.

In 2014, Opengear continued its multi-year participation by donating a mixture of IM4216 and IM7216-2 remote management products and support (me) to aid with the configuration, management and monitoring of the multi-vendor network which comprises InteropNet. While the fiber optic production network gets a lot of press, Opengear’s primary role is to provide out of band access via both the Access Ethernet network and 4G LTE links in strategic locations for emergency access to critical switches in the case of a catastrophic issue arising.

InteropNet is a showcase for vendors who commit gear and time to building the large dual stack IPv4/IPv6 network including NHR (Cisco), F5, Avaya, Server Technology, Emerson and APC. The PDUs and UPS’s are used for power with all of these devices consoled via direct serial connections to the Opengear servers which is then used as a primary avenue for configuration without having to worry about connectivity issues arising while the network is being assembled.

Cormant provides a DCIM model of the complicated network using their CableSolve solution while companies such as ScienceLogic, Path Solutions, Thousand Eyes and TSO provide real time monitoring of various aspects of the network. The Opengear equipment uses SNMP to report to these monitoring systems any issues that it may detect.

The InteropNet is originally cooked up over a course of months before the show by a team of dedicated volunteers and vendors then cobbled together in a warehouse in Brisbane, CA about a month prior to the event. It is then disassembled, packed up and shipped in trucks to Las Vegas where the reverse is accomplished in a fairly grueling matter of days.

During the event, I am stationed in the NOC on the show floor providing support and best practice advice on using Opengear equipment to access and monitor key network gear. Interacting with attendees to provide answers to questions about more advance functions the Console Servers can be used to perform is extremely rewarding. The 4G LTE out of band access was configured to automatically call home to our Lighthouse management system in the event of a primary route becoming unavailable and became a note of interest amongst the NOC members as it provided peace of mind as a safety net for emergencies.

At the end of the show all the cabinets are disconnected, packed up and sent back to California and the process is ready to start again in less than a years’ time. I can’t wait!