It’s always interesting to get a look behind the scenes at the extravaganzas that are big technology conferences. Amazon Web Services event happening this week in Las Vegas is a good example. From fairly humble beginnings, re:Invent has grown to the point where an expected 40,000 individuals are expected to attend the event on-site, while a further 50,000 are anticipated to live-stream the important keynotes and sessions.

There is a huge logistical process behind a show like this – from catering to transportations, from scheduling to signwriting. But since tech is kind of my area of coverage, I decided to have a look at what it takes in terms of technology to connect all those different sessions, the raw (AWS, of course) infrastructure powering them, and the tens of thousands of people wanting to watch the event.

CenturyLink, the Telco who has itself had an interesting ride creating a place for itself in the cloud world, is the partner chosen to connect the Las Vegas strip with AWS’ own infrastructure resources and out to the outside world – it is an interesting case study in deploying a hybrid network solution for a large enterprise – in this case, for AWS itself.

As I said, Amazon is expecting 40,000 individuals on-site and 50,000 online. Of those, 25% are returning re:Invent attendees while the remainder, the huge majority, are first-timers. CenturyLink isn’t providing the on-site WiFI, their jurisdiction lies firmly with the fiber and connectivity from the venues to AWS and to the public Internet.

So, for those who like big numbers, here goes. In terms of bandwidth, CenturyLink is providing Six 10G waves. This is broken down as follows;

  • Four 10G waves for Direct Connect connections
    • Two connecting to AWS US West-2 region
    • Two connecting to AWS US East-1 region
    • Each of the four Direct Connect connections extends to different availability zones within the respective region for redundancy and reliability
  • Two 10G waves for Internet

All keynotes, live streams, breakout sessions, hands-on labs, bootcamps, hackathons, workshops, and certification exams will be delivered by CenturyLink Cloud Connect Solutions. That covers over 1,000 individual sessions across the event.

For those who like network topology diagrams, below is a diagram of the network that CenturyLink has built for the event.



Spare a thought for the behind the scenes folk. It’s a fairly safe bet that everyone will be watching closely and ready to pounce on any kind of a network outage during re:Invent. It’s a safe bet that AWS is making sure it’s all hand on deck in their operations center to ensure their side of things remains robust.

But if you see that live stream go down, it’s reasonable to think that there will be some seriously stressed out people at CenturyLink HQ.

Ben Kepes

Ben Kepes is a technology evangelist, an investor, a commentator and a business adviser. Ben covers the convergence of technology, mobile, ubiquity and agility, all enabled by the Cloud. His areas of interest extend to enterprise software, software integration, financial/accounting software, platforms and infrastructure as well as articulating technology simply for everyday users.

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