How to build a network in 2 hours – right across Australia

I’m currently touring Australia over the next few weeks with Microsoft presenting in their Microsoft for Partners roadshow.  The session I am presenting is based on feedback from the community.  The community has been saying that they want to see more hands on / real world stuff in the roadshows.  The roadshows are in Perth, Adelaide, Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane over the month of November. will get you registered if you are an MS Partner of any type.  The target is that we will take two systems – a desktop and server from HP and within 2 hours, build an operating network that connects to the internet, send email out from the workstation to people in the audience.  Along the way we integrate technology from HP, Microsoft, Trend and Netgear as part of the entire solution.  So this is a bit of fun overall – Mark O’Shea (well known local MS Technical Specialist and all round great guy) and I present this session right after Dean Calvert (SBS MVP) presents a session on how he and his company make money out of SBS.  We’ve presented twice this week – once in Perth and now just yesterday in Adelaide.  Here’s an overview of the show.

Perth – ok – we’re due onstage for a 3:30pm start – so far all presentations are going well and on time.  Mark has prior commitments in Sydney and is flying in to Perth on a flight that lands at 2:10pm – it takes 20 minutes to get from the airport to the city.  I’m a tad nervous as this is our first live run through – we’ve done our prep work and rehearsed a few times, but there is nothing like the real world.  It’s nearly 3pm and still no work from Mark – checking online at the Qantas website shows Mark’s flight has been delayed – landing now at 3pm… looks like I’ll be doing this by myself.  Dean is on now and I decide that if Mark does not arrive, I’ll just head on into and and get Dean to help fill in the gaps blind (as he’s not seen the presentation at all).  We get into it and start building the network.  Things go well and we’re working according to plan – our cheat sheet with all our notes is on a laptop on stage that Dean is following to help do the back end work while I do the talking.  Mark walks in about 40 minutes late and I’ve prearranged with the audience to give him a big cheer 🙂 Nothing like making light of a serious situation 😉  Mark arrives and we’re doing well – good two way communication with the audience and great progress on the network build.  We’re configuring our Netgear router now and it won’t pickup an IP address from the hotel internet connection… whilst onstage, we traced it to the D Link router that the staging people use (we’re behind it) as it’s using the same IP range as our SBS LAN.  Ok – we fix this by taking the network cable out of the D Link and putting it into the Netgear -problem solved and we complete the event within the time limits of the 2hr network build.  All good and some great feedback form the audience.

Adelaide – this time some of the speakers ran early and therefore we got to start early too.  Dean was able to take a few more minutes to complete his bit which was good.  Mark and I got under way and things are going well this time.  We get to the point where we need to connect the Netgear SC101 (SAN Device) and I realise that I’ve left the driver CD I need in my room.  Dean rush’s off to grab my bags from my room and I ruffle through them onstage to find the CD (professional huh..).  We get the SC101 running and use it to install WSUS and then start to hot load WSUS content into the server via a restore from the SC101 using NTBACKUP.  Things going well now… then the internet connection does not work..  We’re plugging in directly to the hotels internet connection this time as we learned from the experience in Perth.  We have link lights on the hub for it and all looks good, but it’s not issuing an IP address.  I dive under the table much to the amusement of the audience as it looks somewhat “suspicious“ when I do so – so I decided to ham it up and begin making a few thumping noises, throw a LAN cable in the air etc – more fun. I use my laptop to diagnose that it’s a dead cable – so the staging people get busy and run a new cable for us while Mark and I talk through a number of other issues to do with setup of the LAN.  The cable is in place and we still don’t get an IP in the router… use my notebook again to diagnose that the hotel LAN is using the same IP as our SBS network.  Damn!!! So – time is running out… I decide not to be beaten and we change the IP on the router.  I then go over to the SBS server and use the Change Server IP wizard to change the servers IP – I click OK and then realise that I’m still mid way through restoring data for WSUS from the SAN device… crap crap crap… oh well – the audience has a laugh at my expense, we change the servers IP and then commence the restore again.  We send email out to the people in the audience and they verify they receive it!  Mission accomplished.  So – is this a slick well tuned demo? Heck no – but it really does show some of the real world issues we face every day and how we work around them.  Audience response for this session was the best so far.  Mark and I are having heaps of fun.  Stay tuned for more reports from the remaining sessions as we are due to have other issues crop up along the way.

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