CITRT Fall 2008 Days 1&2

On Monday I traveled with Brian and Jeremy to Atlanta for the Fall 2008 Church IT RoundTable. Here are my quick notes for Monday and Tuesday:

  1. The flight from Kansas City to Atlanta was the best kind: smooth and uneventful.  The airport rendezvous with Jeremie Kilgore was flawless.  We managed to get a rental car with a trunk large enough for 4 suitcases and 4 laptop bags. The Sprint Navigation GPS software on my Mogul directed us perfectly to Moe’s, though it is quite buggy and requires frequent reboots of the Mogul. While at Moe’s I installed the latest WMWiFiRouter software, which is schweet!
  2. Johnson Ferry Baptist Church.  After dinner, Derek Schwab gave us a tour of JFBC.  Derek is a very busy network manager who has made the best of a small closet for use as a server room.  If you imagine a small data center and then cut that by a factor of 8 or so, you have Derek’s server closet.  😉  A few things caught my eye: metro Ethernet service from Bell South, which makes me jealous; a cool LED message system with a web interface and wireless connectivity; and a monster Xirrus WiFi array, covering their 3-story entry foyer and adjoining rooms.  Derek has done some solid work of which he is justifiably proud.
  3. North Point Community Church and their adjacent office building.  Tuesday morning we enjoyed a tour of NPCC’s IT and A/V infrastructure given by Ryan Clevenger, the head of their network and server team.  We saw and heard many of the things Tony mentioned when he visited 18 months ago, but new things as well.  They are currently in the process of expanding and completely rebuilding their data center in the NPCC main building, but of course everything has to keep running even while the room is under construction.  They’re making the best of a tough situation.  By contrast, their data center in the office building is a thing of beauty.  Sean Strickland, the IT Director, explained that their network infrastructure is “overbuilt” as an intentional strategy.  They want to install infrastructure once and then not mess with it any more so they can focus their efforts on areas that add more value.  They also have clearly-defined processes for day-to-day prioritization as well as annual goal setting.  My team was impressed with that.  They want more structure in their lives.  Heh.
  4. Next we ran over and had a very quick tour of Perimeter Church – only the main auditorium, the data center and IT offices, and the original demarc/MDF.  I just couldn’t stand the idea of being that close to Perimeter without my guys having a chance to see a bit of it.
  5. Following lunch at Zaxby’s, we drove the 5.5 hours to Charleston, checked into our hotel, and left immediately for the pre-roundtable dinner.  Was awesome to see so many friends and meet a few new people too.
  6. After dinner, we went over to Seacoast to help Trace finish last-minute setup.  We got to see his incredibly neat data center and then helped him put out four demo Xirrus WiFi arrays.  Cool!  The CITRT crowd will push them to the limit on Wednesday and Thursday.  By the end of this week, we’ll definitely know what they can do!
  7. The Courtyard WiFi is giving 2.2 Mb/s down and 1.7 Mb/s up.  Not bad; only problem is, connectivity keeps dropping.  Jusin Moore thinks it has something to do with the configuration of their Nomadix box.  Grrr.

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