Pushing the boundaries of networks and virtualization

Crispin Dent-Young, our Principal Architect & Engineering Lead, is pushing the boundaries in coding and network building to transform a venue into a programmable masterpiece. Here he reveals just what it’s like updating an entire stadium’s network:

Crispin, tell us a little bit about the team.

I am coordinating the engineering team, working hard to produce the NetOS® platform that we’ll showcase at the event. There are more than 16 of us working full time, and it’s easy to lose count as we’re continuously welcoming new knowledgeable professionals to advance our capabilities.

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You’re preparing for the Smart Infrastructure 2017 event, held at Ashton Gate Stadium, Bristol. Has that presented any challenges?

Our biggest challenge is that we’re deploying new software around a complex stadium that is currently fully operational! Ashton Gate is hosting matches and events almost every day, and so we work hard each week to find time to nip in – when it is safe! On a normal networking job, you would go in on the weekend and accelerate your installation then, and that is exactly what we cannot do at the stadium.

Zeetta Networks and Ashton Gate Stadium have partnered for a few months now, under the FOAK project. How has preparing for Smart Infrastructure been different?

We’re constantly adapting on the fly as we discover old practices and existing network configurations, which means that I and the team are translating our theoretical ideas and maps onto a very real and present topology. A few discovers are surprising, like pieces of history, but as Ashton Gate is a new stadium, we’re not having to fight old and outdated technology.

What has surprised you as you implement NetOS® technology?

We’re coordinating with many stakeholders across the stadium to ensure that everyone gets what they need from the network, and I’m focused on ensuring that everyone will benefit from it. We want to be able to use the network to enhance the stadium experience through these new capabilities, and that means helping those at the stadium – and those who use it – figure out how its incredible benefits can translate for them.

The high level of technicality that comes with building a virtual network must feel very different when you’re actually standing in the stadium where it will be activated.

Exactly – at the end of the day, it’s like we have decided to build a superhero from scratch. It has a new nervous system, making it more agile and responsive to the needs of the people. Now we are working with Ashton Gate Stadium – and revealing at Smart Infrastructure 2017 – just what this stadium, and others, can do with their new superpowers.

It sounds like challenging work!

It is, but it is also hugely rewarding. My favourite part is seeing it all come together; seeing the work of more than twenty people combine to become something greater than the sum of its parts. We’re at an exciting point now, as we’re putting the final apps together. This collaborative experience means that the last details are slotting into place now – and now we get to enjoy seeing it work!

If you would like to see NetOS® in action at Ashton Gate Stadium, then make sure you register for Smart Infrastructure 2017 here.