Getting a Temporary Network Up and Running: Play-by-Play to a Successful Build

Kenn Jones Senior Manager, Corporate Systems Engineering Published 19 Oct 2018

As a follow-up to our initial blog on building temporary event networks, Nailing Alignment Between IT and Events to Successfully Deploy a Temporary Network, I’d like to touch on the steps in our team’s process for building and managing a temporary network!

The Extreme Networks Global Partner Summit is coming up, which means we’re in the thick of finalizing plans for building out the temporary network our attendees and our team will be relying on. Let’s go over the process we follow here at Extreme.

Four Steps to Building a Temporary Network

  1. Pre-planning

Complete an equipment inventory. Then, build as much of the solution as possible before we ship it in the lab. Equipment is sent off for the conference 2-3 weeks prior to the event start date. Pre-planning also includes deploying management tools before it ships.

  1. Deploy software

Although we ship with the software deployed, we still need to check whether it is the latest version once we are on site. Hence, there’s usually a need to perform upgrades once we get there.

  1. Preliminary on-site activities

Once we are on site, the first thing we need to do is to actually find our stuff. This is sometimes more difficult than it sounds. Once it is all located, we need to take inventory of network components to ensure all necessary equipment is available.

We are usually provided with a room for the network core where our connection to the Internet is. Make sure the Internet works and then ensure management is up and working.

Make sure the Marketing and Event Planning people have what they need.  They have their jobs to do and they need a working network, so we make sure their room is set up first.

After that we generally have a plan in place and will set up switching and wireless room by room based upon when those rooms are needed. We are often at the mercy of the facility as they need to release the room to us before we can deploy.

  1. Testing and Troubleshooting

We physically deploy access points while troubleshooting along the way. We need to test signal strength, connectivity, and roaming. To do so, we basically walk around, act like a client, and make sure that the network provides optimal service

Tools for Making an Event Network Deployment Easier

On top of sticking to a solid methodology for temporary network deployments, you’re also going to want the right tools available to help you out throughout the event.

One tool that stands out as my making my job a whole lot easier is Extreme Management Center.  Our management software allows us to centrally monitor and check everything that is going on in the network from a single interface. Our Application Telemetry solution that is part of Extreme Management Center allows us to look at live analytics and make sure all of the traffic is flowing properly. From a device level standpoint if anything goes down, we have alarms set up that will notify us right away. Throughout an event, people do come in and clean rooms and unplug things by accident—it’s easy for us to locate it quickly and fix it.

In addition to Extreme Management Center, at GPS the network will be using and demoing various Extreme products and solutions. Other products will include:

  • ExtremeAnalytics – delivers accurate information about network and application performance and we can see what apps are running on your network and shows who is using what application and when.
  • ExtremeControl – makes the network easy and secure for all of our guests to use Wi-Fi with automatic onboarding and granular policy control.
  • The recently launched ExtremeCloud Appliance as part of the Smart OmniEdge solution – yields a consistent customer-driven experience across campus and distributed environments.
  • ExtremeMobility solutions – distributes reliable, secure, and intelligent wireless connectivity to all users.
  • ExtremeSwitching products – supplies better high-performing networks.

If you’re at GPS, feel free to ask about the network and for a demo!

Notes on the Process: Scheduling and Pre-Testing

It’s worth noting, we do abide by a schedule of where attendees and employees will be before the event even begins. For instance, if we know pre-conference training is going to take place, then troubleshooting has to be complete in advance.

Pre-testing is key, as well. Before guests are connecting at the conference, we’ll have a couple of people walk around with laptops to test signal strength around the entire floor and conference area. We take care of this aspect while people are registering.

That’s all I’ve got for now! Once the event’s over, I’ll be back to talk about some of the analytics we’re able to extract from Extreme Management Center at the event, as well as tips and tricks we used to manage the network. Check back soon for more info!

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