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San Diego Convention Center is sophisticated communications backdrop to TCA conference.

Hosting scores of shows annually in addition to the TCA convention, the San Diego Convention Center needs extensive, sophisticated telecom facilities to support voice and data communications.

The center, whose design is evocative of a sailing vessel, sits as though docked in San Diego's alluring harbor. The roomy facility has 760,000 square feet of space.

Brian York, information systems manager for the center, recalls hunting for the right telecom equipment as the facility prepared for its late 1989 opening.

"Our main objective was to find a network controller compatible with a variety of dissimilar devices that could provide network connectivity over great distances," York says.

Its choice to anchor the datacomm system was an Instanet CommServer network from Micom, Simi Valley, Calif. Consisting of two Instanet 6000 Series 40 CommServers, two InstaGate 1500 CommServer-LAN Gateways and nearly 100 M430 Line Drivers, the network links an array of sophisticated electronic systems and data traffic to DEC VAX II and Model 3800 Micro VAX III hosts.

The ability to transmit the length and breadth of the center, yet contain communications equipment within a single location, was crucial.

"What most people don't understand about convention center business is that we sell space," says York. "We need as much space available as possible to produce revenue, not house data processing equipment."

The central location of the communications control room also ties into disaster planning. With the convention center owned by the city of San Diego and designated a potential disaster evacuation site, it needs to provide critical data processing and voice communications that are not dependent on outside power or environmental services.

"We require total redundancy," York insists. "No single component can bring down the system."

The CommServer provides redundancy in power supplies, data and control buses, and logic. It has two internal power units and can rely on its onw uninterruptible power supply system for at least 16 hours. Even with a power interruption, the CommServer would come back up fully operational, without operator involvement required.

The InstaGate 1500 units provide parallel links between the CommServer and Ethernet LANs, across which the DEC VAC computers are accessed. Each MicroVAX system has two Ethernet ports, ensuring that a problem on either LAN does not close down the network.

In the event of a problem, The CommServer's alternate or secondary routing makes diversion of connect requests to the remaining operational LAN automatic.

All building automation systems, including lighting and the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems, are accessible through dial-up modem pools. Managers can dial up the systems from home to coincide with evening, late night, or early morning events.

The way York sees it, there are no users on the network, only customers. His in-house customers run an array of programs on the CommServer network to access computer and Ethernet LAN resources. Word processing, inventory control, payroll, general ledger accounting, and database management are all accessible to the more than 96 terminals and PCs on the network.

Other network customers are the kind you'd expect in a convention center. Exhibitors, exhibit builders and shippers, organizers, attendees, media, and others can rent computer resources while using the convention center. They can access resources in much the same way as the in-house customers do. The CommServer's statistic log port measures network usage and provides for security monitoring.

The network's resource sharing functions provide another revenue-generating opportunity. Center events, logged through the year 2010, are booked on a computerized ledger. Through a browse-only mode, non-competing businesses such as exhibit builders, shippers, hotels, and tour-related firms can target prospective customers.

As the center's management makes plans for a 100,000-square-foot expansion of the facility, the network will expand as well.
COPYRIGHT 1991 Nelson Publishing
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Copyright 1991 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Telecommunications Association Preview; includes related article on TCA attendees
Publication:Communications News
Date:Sep 1, 1991
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