James O'Neill's Blog

December 14, 2006

Phew: EVO Launch

Filed under: Events,Exchange,Office,Windows Vista — jamesone111 @ 9:18 am

I’m waiting to see the feedback from the audience, but the general feeling is Tuesdays event was a success.

We had two servers “live” on stage and a third in reserve. These had 4 processing cores each, with 8 GB of memory and twin hard drives. The global launch organizers sent us a total of 53 Virtual Machine images (all of which were on the servers, but not all of which were used). And we added another half a dozen to that bringing the total to about 60 – which totaled between 300 and 400 GB. Eileen quoted 650 GB – that’s just the two live servers, if you add in the spare we had over a terabyte. Plus 6 laptops used for demos and a seventh for the slides. The differences in output between all of these (and VMs in full screen mode) taxed the AV system’s auto adjustment abilities.

The folks in Redmond who produced the VMs had a pretty tough job – because preparing an event for launch time means working with software isn’t finalized. In one case the demo images have passed their activation cut off date, and in another there is a certificate which only becomes valid after that date. Some demos need to be able to access the internet (via a proxy server) and some need the proxy turned off. We get sample demo scripts to go with the images, but in a lot of cases the scripts and images were out of sync. 

At the end of rehearsals, the Unified Communications demos stopped working. These had 12 VMs in the original plan, but only 7 in the live version – which was close the limit for one of our servers. We thought we’d fixed the problem, but an hour before the audience arrived a critical group of services failed to start. Wondering if something had passed an expiry date we changed the date on the server – which broke something else later in the day. We tried to bring up the images on the second server (a minor configuration error in Virtual server meant a crucial machine was disconnected from the network – not that we knew it at the time). Fortunately, Arthur, who was presenting that session, had copies of the VMs on an external hard drive, we plugged that it, changed the paths to the Images and to whoops of joy all the critical bits started. It was a lot of extra stress for Arthur which he didn’t need.

He wasn’t the only one suffering stress. One of the presenters had just had news of a death in the family, and Eileen was recovering from illness and wouldn’t have come to work on a normal day…. As for me, it was odd to be co-ordinating and not presenting – I have a bit more understanding for event organizers now. A general thank you is due to all the presenters, but particularly to Andy, Brett and Jessica, who delivered the track that I owned.

This post originally appeared on my technet blog.


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