Here are three scenes from the world of networked meetings. In the first, we look at the system requirements for an information-intensive conference. In the second, an event looks ahead toward connecting two local networks across the Pacific. And in the third, we learn how one company uses the Internet to deftly handle its on-site meeting registrations.
1. How to Wire a Messaging Conference The Seaport Hotel/World Trade Center Boston (WTCB) had the privilege of hosting the 1998 Microsoft Exchange Conference, a massive customer event profiling the latest messaging software. Messaging software requires sending somebody something, so the event demanded an extraordinary level of internal and external data communications. Microsoft needed every part of the meeting complex wired together and to the outside world. Here is what it took to support 5,000 customers visiting 100 exhibitors:
* Seven T1 lines
* Two Class C Internet Protocol (IP) subnets
* Four large Ethernet switches and 30 small ones from Cisco and Cabletron, creating Virtual Local Area Networks (VLANs)
* 23 servers
* And, of course, voice communications! Dial tone still counts.
It took all of this to support 600 nodes and 30 network printers for three days. Impressive numbers, to be sure, but the most amazing part was that StreamLine Communications and Seaport/WTCB staff set it all up over last year's Labor Day weekend.
2. Networking Across the Pacific The Internet Mail Consortium (www.imc.org) is the group that makes the rules that ensure that my e-mail message lands on your desk looking pretty much the way I sent it, no matter what servers, switches, and routers handle it. IMC holds regular testing events at the San Jose (Calif.) Hilton. A typical late night scene isn't in the hotel lounge, but rather in a meeting room with 85 PCs, where attendees rewrite and de-bug code based on the day's meetings. But the code they are working on is often halfway around the world, connected to San Jose by the Internet.
The IMC is stretching the Hilton's capabilities for its next event, with simultaneous meetings planned for San Jose and Tokyo to test the interoperability of the hardware and software in both cities. The San Jose Hilton has long been a leader in technology service for the meetings market. Its service provider, LodgeNet Entertainment Corp., is in the early stages of deploying meeting room and guest room services across North America.
3. On-Site Internet Registration These examples use the Internet as a part of the meeting content. What about using it for the meeting planner's benefit? Scottsdale's Phoenician Resort hosts 1,000 top CEOs, CIOs, and technology luminaries in splendor at the annual GIGAWorld IT Forum, sponsored by Giga Information Group. In addition to multiple demonstration applications using T1 service to the Internet, Giga uses a unique Web-driven registration service hosted by Xerox.
Giga places Web kiosks in the resort's foyer. Attendees register themselves, using the kiosks or their own Web access, inputting their sessions and activities choices. Giga's servers process and store the registration details and send files back to Scottsdale, where massive Docutech 6180 printers collate and bind individual, personalized registration kits. The customized binders include itinerary details, as well as the handouts and advance readings for the attendee's session choices. Meanwhile, the application also creates master itineraries and head counts for Giga's Event Operations team, led by Ronli Berlinger.