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Marriott IT Exec Shares Network Horror Story

Zonk posted more than 6 years ago | from the waps-that-kill-ip-layers-run-amok dept.

98

alphadogg writes "Neil Schubert is only partly kidding when he calls Marriott International's move toward a converged network a horror story. 'I'm here to tell you a terrifying tale of network design, support and administration,' he said at an IT conference in Boston, referring to a major bandwidth crunch caused by guests wielding Slingboxes and other network devices that overran the hotel chain's outdated network. 'One of the things we've learned about our guest networks is we have one of the most foreign, hostile environments known to man in the network administration world ... I can take 100,000 customers a night on that infrastructure and we actually have less incidents of harm than we do on our corporate back-office infrastructure.'"

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98 comments

Where's the horror? (1, Insightful)

SilverJets (131916) | more than 6 years ago | (#19455303)

Marriott has a network and customers use it. Marriott realizes the network is overwhelmed by the customer use and is now upgrading it.

So where's the horror? Or is this just Marriott's way of advertising their new network?

Re:Where's the horror? (4, Insightful)

luvirini (753157) | more than 6 years ago | (#19455325)

It is a "horror story" because the network manager was not prepared for the customers to actually USE the service...

Re:Where's the horror? (2, Interesting)

dwater (72834) | more than 6 years ago | (#19455391)

Of course that's not an accurate description. It was that he was not prepared for them to use it to the extent they did - he wasn't prepared for the degree of success that occurred.

On that note, I wonder what turns a healthy network into a broken one? Is there something different between a broken network and one that's just very slow?

It reminds me of the problems we had in Asia (I'm in Beijing) earlier this year due to the earthquake in Taiwan. Network congestion was so bad that we figured using a 56K modem would be faster, since at least then we're given a dedicated bandwidth (enough for a voice)...maybe. We never tried that out, so I don't know for sure...

Re:Where's the horror? (1)

Lehk228 (705449) | more than 6 years ago | (#19455605)

if you did a 56k dial in to a modem bank at your destination you would have, if it was 56k to a local ISP you would have been just as fucked

Re:Where's the horror? (1)

dwater (72834) | more than 6 years ago | (#19457715)

Well der, of course I meant a modem on the other side of the blockage, else there wouldn't any point at all.
I was thinking of something along the lines of an AOL or earthlink account, or just have someone hook up a modem at our US office...

Re:Where's the horror? (1)

rbarreira (836272) | more than 6 years ago | (#19456487)

With a 56k modem, you have guaranteed bandwidth between you and the ISP, not between you and the internet.

Re:Where's the horror? (1)

dwater (72834) | more than 6 years ago | (#19457723)

Yeah, so?

If the ISP is on the other side of the blockage, it effectively gets me onto the other side of the blockage, no?

Re:Where's the horror? (1)

magores (208594) | more than 6 years ago | (#19457673)

...Totally off topic post here....

Dwater

I'm also in Beijing. Let's grab a beer sometime.

We can discuss proxys, etc. Write it off as a business expense. ... Off topic post ends now...

Re:Where's the horror? (2, Funny)

dwater (72834) | more than 6 years ago | (#19457703)

Well, my mum told me I shouldn't arrange to meet people off the net'...but, er, maybe...

Re:Where's the horror? (1)

Peter La Casse (3992) | more than 6 years ago | (#19459325)

Is there something different between a broken network and one that's just very slow?

One way for a network to be broken by design is if the total capacity decreases as the utilization increases; in other words, past a certain point, adding more load decreases the total throughput of the network.

Re:Where's the horror? (1)

dwater (72834) | more than 6 years ago | (#19461199)

> Is there something different between a broken network and one that's just very slow?

One thing that has since occurred to me is wrt the various time outs that are set as default. For example, how long will a computer wait for a response from a DNS server? I guess those timeout values might set a minimum service level, or mean that some services should be given priority else the network would just not work.

Anything other than DNS?

Re:Where's the horror? (1)

SharpFang (651121) | more than 6 years ago | (#19463269)

Yes. Because the network was not overengineered and supported the expected traffic, not maximum possible traffic. And then the ad came. I work at one of bigger portals, and when the Business Unit is to comission a TV/frontpage/other media advertisement of certain service, they are required to give a 2-week notice to the IT, and the IT is free to veto the ad in case the infrastructure is not ready for the extra traffic. If an ad gets aired without IT's knowledge, and as result a service goes down, the BU is held responsible, not the IT.

One of interesting effects of the Big Portals world I noticed when I got this job first is that when it comes to traffic, you're juggling hot potatos. Your homemade PHPBB-based portal for fans of an anime series usually runs at 0.5% of CPU, eats up maybe 5% of your home ADSL and serves 20 requests a minute. Here, a farm of some 200 servers is running at 90% its capacity most of the time, chokes slightly during rush hours and goes down burning if the BU makes some stupid decision about ads of the portal. We're not worried about DDoS much - usually a few DDoSes run against us but they account for a fraction of percent of the legal traffic. If we open a new service, we add servers to contain the expected traffic. If a service is promoted, some horsepower gets shifted from other, less used parts - sure there are load ballancing mechanisms, but they don't know there will be extra 500 clicks per second once the commercial gets aired at 18:30, so things get tweaked by hand. And we're not too big about buying commercials which provide temporary rush - all you get is servers down now, and 2% less userbase annoyed by the downtime once the rush is over. If it increases the userbase slowly, accounting for reasonable purchase of more servers and more bandwidth, all right. The small margin is big enough to account for all the normal flux in load. Rapid spikes are dangerous, but rapid spikes don't happen by themselves - they are planned months ahead.

Come on! (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19455341)

For running this slashvertisement, Zonk's getting one years free accommodation from the Marriott chain, so what's the problem?

Can't an "Editor" graft in peace?

Re:Come on! (2, Informative)

edittard (805475) | more than 6 years ago | (#19456457)

Can't an "Editor" graft in peace?
In some parts of England, "graft" means hard work rather than the modern American meaning relating to corruption. This could easily lead to confusion and ambiguity, and yet in this case it doesn't. Puzzling, most puzzling.

Pffft! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19456657)

There's only one kind of graft when the subject is a Slashdot 'editor'; Nobody is dumb enough to think Zonk and Co do anything like actual "work".

Re:Pffft! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19457119)

What do you mean? It takes significant effort to b0rk code in the /. fashion.
Nobody is dumb enough to think that Capt Burrito and Zink are actually having "fun".

The Horror (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19455499)

FTA
"Customer connections and bandwidth consumption increased fourfold, according to Schubert, the vice president of IT strategy."

After a commercial aired on national TV and bandwidth consumption went up fourfold. Being a network administrator in charge of that network had to be tense. Basically over night your network has turned into something slower than dial up. Just a little pressure for the network admin.

Re:The Horror (4, Insightful)

eln (21727) | more than 6 years ago | (#19456503)

Sounds like a lack of capacity planning. If the marketroids were planning a huge marketing push, the IT manager should have been given the resources to increase network capacity prior to that push. If the IT manager was given proper warning and funding prior to the marketing campaign, it's his fault for not effectively utilizing it. Either way, the problem could have been avoided with proper management.

Re:Where's the horror? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19455503)

Well, if you RTFA, on page 3 it describes that the infrastructure problems were brought on by their use of using Linux instead of Windows.

So now the poor guy has a nightmares where Steve Ballmer shows up on his doorstep dressed in a monkey suit while throwing chairs and screaming "Windows! Windows! Windows!" and commands him to read every TCO paper ever published my Microsoft as his punishment for making such a bad choice.

That certainly qualifies as "horror" in my book.

Re:Where's the horror? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19455937)

Who modded this troll as insightful? There's no mention of Linux and no page 3 either.

Re:Where's the horror? (2, Insightful)

Kyojin (672334) | more than 6 years ago | (#19455949)

Whoever modded this "insightful" needs to get a clue. The article doesn't even have 3 pages, it has 2. Also the only mention of "Linux" is in the ads around the story, not in either of the two pages of the story.

Re:Where's the horror? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19457097)

Yeah man. If it doesnt say linux, it's not a real article.

Article only has two pages, mod down (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19456047)

This guy clearly has *not* read the article.

hurm? (5, Funny)

spazmonkey (920425) | more than 6 years ago | (#19455355)

So what was the point of that article again? I must have missed it. Perhaps the PR flak who subbed it could explain it to me. I want that two minutes of my life back now /.

Re:hurm? (4, Insightful)

WarlockD (623872) | more than 6 years ago | (#19455431)

Agreed. Whats the freaking point? The article is a fluff piece as it doesn't even describe what, if any, the problems they had to overcome. I rather have it explain WHY the hotel customer network was safer than there internal network than just it be said:P

Marriott a sponsor of Slashdot?

Re:hurm? (1)

DonChron (939995) | more than 6 years ago | (#19470149)

This is one of the worst networking articles I've ever read. There is nothing remotely interesting or informative in those two pages. There's not enough detail to offer any insight into networks, project management, system design or anything else. Why?

Why? Why? Why? Why? Why? Why? Why? Why? Why? Why? Why? Why? Why? Why? Why?

yep! (1)

PaulBu (473180) | more than 6 years ago | (#19455459)

Trying to parse it on lexical level is OK, moving to syntax is a bit challenging (have to make some assumptions!), but then on semantic level (taking above-mentioned assumptions into account) -- IT JUST DOES NOT PARSE!!! :) There is a feling of some text semi-randomly generated but not that smart an AI... (in other words, reminds me of spam!)

On which network he could accomodate 100,000 customers, the one before the great unification, or the one after? Which network gives him his headaches?

Now, I'm curious to know! :)

Paul B,

Re:hurm? (1)

Angostura (703910) | more than 6 years ago | (#19456403)

the thing I took away from this, is that even some well educated people don't know the difference between "less" and "fewer". The rest of the article didn't really match up to that exciting insight.

Re:hurm? (2, Informative)

Midnight Thunder (17205) | more than 6 years ago | (#19458031)

One of the points was that their current network implementation sucked. They have multiple networks, each handling a different type of medium, be it telephone, computer data and TV. This makes for huge complexity when administering the networks. Their current data network was not designed in an optimal manner and quickly got over run. Their plan is to provide one IP network for all data types (voice, fax, data and TV), instead of dedicated networks, and then have a box in each room which would provide an interface to allow to use phone, computers and TVs. This approach reduces cabling and makes it much easier to manage.

BTW The article could have been written better.

Re:hurm? (1)

NateTech (50881) | more than 6 years ago | (#19470831)

So an old company with lots of "legacy" shit has to re-design their bad network.

I'm still trying to figure out why that's even slightly interesting on a Geek News website.

If I'd have known, I could have had that guy write some stupid articles about everyplace older than 5 years old that I've ever worked for.

weilding slingboxes? (5, Funny)

ChiChiCuervo (2445) | more than 6 years ago | (#19455367)

I just get this mental image I'm not going to be able to shake....

"Some call it a slingbox, I call it appleTV. nnnngggggghhhh"

One lesson from the article... (4, Insightful)

BrowserCapsGuy (872795) | more than 6 years ago | (#19455395)

There needs to be better coordination between marketing and IT. IT had no idea marketing was running commercials showing customers using all this high-bandwidth stuff so there's no way IT could be prepared for it. Imagine 160 customers just trying to view websites on one DSL line! I admire this guy for his honesty if nothing else. He'll probably catch hell for it from his superiors!

Re:One lesson from the article... (5, Insightful)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 6 years ago | (#19455495)

that's what marketing do dumby! they make outrageous claims then handball it to technical, and when technical can't make the impossible happen marketing make it look like the techies failed. marketing will then tweak their bullshit slightly to cover their own ass's and make it look like they saved the day.

Re:One lesson from the article... (2, Insightful)

Kjella (173770) | more than 6 years ago | (#19457721)

that's what marketing do dumby! they make outrageous claims then handball it to technical, and when technical can't make the impossible happen marketing make it look like the techies failed. marketing will then tweak their bullshit slightly to cover their own ass's and make it look like they saved the day

Marketing aren't half bad, they haven't got a clue what they're talking about and answer "yes" to most questions when they have no idea or not. Most have a fairly relaxed attitude to that and know that their job is to reel them in close so negotiations can start. They're great with powerpoints and talking points and all that, but noone would mistake them from a tech and particularly not a tech genius. That's why they usually only able to do limited damange, because the customers also want a more technical presentation.

The real bastards work in presales. The presales guys are very bright and very much so techs, but they have joined the dark side. Their domain are one of mock-ups, sales demonstrations and in no small part smoke and mirrors. They deal in hardcoded values and links, functionality that doesn't exist or doesn't work and graciously ignores all the difficulties of actually doing it. They're the people who *know* it won't work and still tell the customer they can do it and the customer will believe them. They're experts at closing sales, to then hand it over to an implementation team because clearly they're too important to actually do the impossible.

I actually have a better relationship to people that are a bit wishy-washy and hand-waving than those who know exactly what they're talking about - then lie about it.

When evaluating marketing (1)

sjames (1099) | more than 6 years ago | (#19460341)

Whenever evaluating marketing, the first and foremost thing to keep in mind is that it is their JOB to successfully pass frosted dog turds off as wedding cake. No matter who they work for, the number one thing they will market is THEMSELVES. Once they successfully market themselves to their employer, they may (or may not) actually market the product. After all, they don't HAVE to make the product look good every time, just convince the employer that they did!

Re:One lesson from the article... (1)

Orleron (835910) | more than 6 years ago | (#19455515)

Does this crap actually happen in real companies like Marriott?? I thought that only my fellow marketing and IT people in the biomedical industry were that stupid.

Re:One lesson from the article... (0, Flamebait)

ls -la (937805) | more than 6 years ago | (#19455581)

Never underestimate the stupidity of a CEO who is trying to save money by cutting things he has no clue about.

Re:One lesson from the article... (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19455623)

i've met many CEO's in my time. without fail, they have all been weasles with no clue how their business runs. even the ones that founded it.

i currently work for a multi billion $ venture and the CEO is required to sign off on outside contractors HOTEL STAYS. i shit you not. he will usually approve anything you slap infront of him, but sometimes he must get this urge to interfer and ask a bunch of fucking stupid questions and attempt to derail it.

Biggest lesson learned...... (4, Insightful)

Nick Driver (238034) | more than 6 years ago | (#19455615)

...is that the worst threats to your network do not necessarily come from outside.... they almost always come from your very own moronic employees.

Re:One lesson from the article... (1)

sjaaklaan.com (1109147) | more than 6 years ago | (#19456647)

Are they charging for Internet access? In Europe, in most you have to pay a large sum of money just to get enough bandwidth to check your mail.

Re:One lesson from the article... (1)

MCZapf (218870) | more than 6 years ago | (#19459789)

In general, I've found that expensive resort or business hotels charge for Internet access, but budget hotels do not - even when the parent company is the same (in this case, Marriot).

This is more typical than horrifying to me... (5, Insightful)

kungfoolery (1022787) | more than 6 years ago | (#19455417)

The business units of most organizations typically make promises to their customers without comprehending or even considering the IT implications. Account Executive to customer: "Sure! We can provide you and your thousands of users seamless B2B connections from your network to ours wirelessly from any global location!" Account Executive to IT department: "Ok, you guys figure out how to do that."

Re:This is more typical than horrifying to me... (4, Insightful)

jd (1658) | more than 6 years ago | (#19455541)

Yep, seen that at plenty of places. At one place, the IT department clearly spelled out what was possible and in what timeframe. Marketing oversold anyway. However, this isn't just IT, and that's the scary part of it. Airlines routinely overbook aircraft. Package holiday companies sell hotel rooms for hotels that haven't yet been built. You too can place advance orders for books that haven't been written or buy computers that have not yet been built. (One company I know has made substantial money off a computer for which even the prototype does not yet work.)

The problem with marketing is that it is not about selling what you have, it's about selling what the person wants to buy. If there's a discrepancy between the two, well, that's not your department. Complaints is three doors down, across the hall from Abuse.

I have to note with aircraft overbooking (1)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 6 years ago | (#19456605)

That the reason they do it is because statistically a percentage of people don't make a given flight. Sometimes it ends up in conflicts, especially since they tend to err on the side of being full rather than no conflicts, but there is good reason to do it. If 100% of people who wanted on a flight showed up, they'd never overbook. However about 10-15% of people cancel their reservations or otherwise fail to show. Thus it makes sense to overbook the aircraft.

Re:overbooking/non-refundable (2, Interesting)

evought (709897) | more than 6 years ago | (#19458887)

That the reason they do it is because statistically a percentage of people don't make a given flight. Sometimes it ends up in conflicts, especially since they tend to err on the side of being full rather than no conflicts, but there is good reason to do it. If 100% of people who wanted on a flight showed up, they'd never overbook. However about 10-15% of people cancel their reservations or otherwise fail to show. Thus it makes sense to overbook the aircraft.

That might almost be an excuse except that they sell non-refundable "you die, you fly" tickets, supposedly for the exact same reason. Those empty seats are already paid for. They are trying to make additional money off of them at the cost of double booking. Like most businesses, they get you both ways and make you deal with the mistakes and inconvenience.

Re:overbooking/non-refundable (1)

MCZapf (218870) | more than 6 years ago | (#19459971)

It's not like refundable tickets aren't available anymore. You can still get them if you want. Business travelers often do. There's some on every flight and it's probably they that are most the unpredictable. The number of non-refundable tickets sold is a factor the airlines use to decide how much to overbook.

There was a NYTimes article on this recently: http://travel.nytimes.com/2007/05/30/business/30bu mp.html [nytimes.com]. It does, in fact, cost more to the airline to have empty seats than to pay off passengers that are bumped.

I wonder how airlines choose who to bump if no one volunteers when they offer vouchers, etc. Is it by who paid the lowest fare? I can see how that'd get people upset!

Bottom line, worldwide travel doesn't always go like clockwork. Be prepared, be flexible, I say. Be one of those passengers who volunteers for a later flight, get a voucher for discount or free flight, and you won't be so annoyed by the system.

Re:overbooking/non-refundable (1)

ryanov (193048) | more than 6 years ago | (#19460209)

My most recent trip home from New Orleans on Continental was overbooked and they were offering initially $300 and then $400 to get off and take a flight 3 hours later.

I personally didn't take it because I was feeling ill and had a doctor's appointment that evening that I'd have missed on the later flight... but the bump would have paid for two round trip tickets at the price I paid.

(wouldn't you know, my train broke down on the way to the doctor)

Re:This is more typical than horrifying to me... (1)

Monkeybaister (588525) | more than 6 years ago | (#19457251)

The problem with marketing is that it is not about selling what you have, it's about selling what the person wants to buy. If there's a discrepancy between the two, well, that's not your department. Complaints is three doors down, across the hall from Abuse.

Don't forget the legal department.

There's this legal thing, promissory estoppel [wikipedia.org] that has come over to the US from English common law, and hasn't been taken out. Where I work I think we got another company's legal department to reel in a sales representative.

If more people knew the law, marketing departments would be unable to get away with so much. Even though the big companies know how to stay close enough to the law.

Re:This is more typical than horrifying to me... (1)

OnTheEdge (136784) | more than 6 years ago | (#19465089)

I've seen this as well - but on a much smaller scale...just look at the average resume. We all do it, it's economics. Speaking of which, it still amazes me how so many posters here slam some company for trying to find cheap labor (and yes, I know the cheapest is not necessarily the best value), or do something else to save money, while at the same time mimicking that same behavior themselves. I know the most "loyalty" I show to any store comes from laziness, not true loyalty. My shopping loyalty typically goes to the lowest bidder.

Re:This is more typical than horrifying to me... (1)

Dadoo (899435) | more than 6 years ago | (#19456583)

Ok, you guys figure out how to do that.

To be honest, I've never had a problem with that. For me (and most of the people I've worked with), it only becomes a problem when they add, "Oh, and we need it tomorrow", or "There's no extra money on the budget to spend on this", or both.

Re:This is more typical than horrifying to me... (1)

NerveGas (168686) | more than 6 years ago | (#19462947)

Even better is the "We just sent out 200,000 flyers with (X) promised, we need you to make it happen."

Anybody have a "buzzword bingo" card for this? (3, Interesting)

MonkeyBoyo (630427) | more than 6 years ago | (#19455477)

I may have understood some of the article but it seems to have been mainly an exercise in trotting out what somebody thinks are the most trendy buzzwords.

Re:Anybody have a "buzzword bingo" card for this? (1)

Zantetsuken (935350) | more than 6 years ago | (#19457411)

Whats there to understand? Basically he just said that Marriot is bumping up their network backbone to better hand VOIP and Slingbox [wikipedia.org] type devices (basically broadcasts and manipulates your tv via the net, and you can watch it via the Slingbox app on your laptop or supported cell-phone), along with adding docking stations and cables to hook up electronics and laptops and whatnot to your Marriot room's A/V system and network connection...

Really there weren't any buzzwords at all in it - Slingbox isn't a buzzword so much as a product, and VOIP has been around long enough that its no longer a buzzword (except for by companies such as Vonage)...

Unrealistic convergence plan (5, Insightful)

Bruce Perens (3872) | more than 6 years ago | (#19455527)

Placing all access points in a single telecom closet for what are generally rather spacious properties requires that 2.4 GHz signals be carried through coaxial cable that is very lossy at that frequency - it might be fair to expect up to 90% of the signal to be lost in the wire. There is an FCC limit on the transmitted power, and even if you manage to boost that at the antenna you will be boosting noise as well. And this attenuation and noise will of course hurt receiving too. This is in general going to result in lower wireless quality than desired, much lower than possible.

Instead, get zero-management access points that do not do NAT, routing, etc, and treat them just like antennas once you set the SSID. Do the protocol processing in the telecom closet with a higher grade of hardware than consumer equipment. Cache DNS and web transfers there. Work with Slingbox to engineer channel aggregation with multicasting that bypasses the home units while transmitting the same programming, because so many of those folks are watching the same sports game. I can think of some interesting approaches to the possible legal issues with Slingbox aggregating channels, no doubt they can as well. Can an in-house video alternative be made as attractive as Slingbox? That's another solution.

Bruce

Re:Unrealistic convergence plan (1, Interesting)

Beatlebum (213957) | more than 6 years ago | (#19455613)

>> Work with Slingbox to engineer channel aggregation with multicasting that bypasses the home units while transmitting the same programming

Oh sure, Slingbox is going to switch from being P2P to a multicast provider of copyrighted content in order to let Marriott go cheap on bandwidth.

>> Can an in-house video alternative be made as attractive as Slingbox? That's another solution.

This is non-trivial and does not solve the bandwidth problem completely.

Along the same lines I have a solution:

Cache the Internet on a local server and connected each room via a quad fiber ATM connection.

Re:Unrealistic convergence plan (1)

Bruce Perens (3872) | more than 6 years ago | (#19455715)

Oh sure, Slingbox is going to switch from being P2P to a multicast provider of copyrighted content in order to let Marriott go cheap on bandwidth.
I am well aware of the legal issues and did not mean to pose them as being simple. Hotel chains have lucrative relationships with sports enterprises.

Cache the Internet on a local server and connected each room via a quad fiber ATM connection.
This proposal not solve problem, which is limtied by the pipe to the building rather than the pipe within the building. Caching works great for static content, but the main bandwidth hog is streaming.

Bruce

Re:Unrealistic convergence plan (3, Informative)

Leto-II (1509) | more than 6 years ago | (#19455767)

Slingbox is not P2P at all. You stream content from your computer back home to wherever you want to watch it.

Re:Unrealistic convergence plan (0)

dangitman (862676) | more than 6 years ago | (#19456189)

Slingbox is not P2P at all. You stream content from your computer back home to wherever you want to watch it.

How is that not P2P? Your computer at home is one peer, and the computer in the hotel room is the other peer.

Re:Unrealistic convergence plan (3, Informative)

Franso6 (976942) | more than 6 years ago | (#19456307)

In that definition everything that's unicast is Peer to Peer.
The term is nowadays used for a form of content distribution that's based on using end-user-owned, non-specialised machines working collectively.
What you're referring to is a client-server model.. Usually considered as more or less the opposite of a P2P model.
I agree that the naming peer to peer is unfortunate, though.

Re:Unrealistic convergence plan (1)

dangitman (862676) | more than 6 years ago | (#19461267)

In that definition everything that's unicast is Peer to Peer.

Correct, so what's wrong with that definition?

The term is nowadays used for a form of content distribution that's based on using end-user-owned, non-specialised machines working collectively.

If they want it to mean that, then why not use a term that actually specifies that, rather than something vague?

What you're referring to is a client-server model.. Usually considered as more or less the opposite of a P2P model.

But then isn't P2P also a client-server model, just with lots of different servers and clients?

Re:Unrealistic convergence plan (1)

cyclocommuter (762131) | more than 6 years ago | (#19460789)

More accurately, you don't need a computer at home to stream remotely from a Slingbox to your hotel room anywhere in the world... it is a server unto its own that hooks up to your cable/satellite set top box, Tivo, or all of those.

Re:Unrealistic convergence plan (1)

billsoxs (637329) | more than 6 years ago | (#19455775)

Cache the Internet on a local server and connected each room via a quad fiber ATM connection.

So if I understand correctly, you are suggesting that Marriott needs to build a Google installation for each one of its hotels. Do you suppose Mattiott would be able to stay in business if it does this? When are they going to hold the auction on used bits left over from the former Marriott Corporation? I'd like to get a rack full of computers and raid drives... - or - Maybe I am misreading what you are suggesting....

Re:Unrealistic convergence plan (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19457365)

You clearly misread. You'd need *two* racks full of computers and raid drives to cache "the internet".

Re:Unrealistic convergence plan (1)

afidel (530433) | more than 6 years ago | (#19455741)

Cisco has a solution that puts the PHY on the antenna out in the premises and just send back the partially processed signal to the MAC built into either an AP or linecard.

Re:Unrealistic convergence plan (1)

TooMuchToDo (882796) | more than 6 years ago | (#19456279)

Can an in-house video alternative be made as attractive as Slingbox? That's another solution.

Yes, it can. It just needs to be cheaper to build/purchase it then bandwidth.

Re:Unrealistic convergence plan (1)

scottv67 (731709) | more than 6 years ago | (#19461205)

Placing all access points in a single telecom closet for what are generally rather spacious properties requires that 2.4 GHz signals be carried through coaxial cable that is very lossy at that frequency - it might be fair to expect up to 90% of the signal to be lost in the wire. There is an FCC limit on the transmitted power, and even if you manage to boost that at the antenna you will be boosting noise as well. And this attenuation and noise will of course hurt receiving too. This is in general going to result in lower wireless quality than desired, much lower than possible.

Bruce, there is a company called Mobile Access that uses the "APs in a closet" approach that you mentioned but they use a different style of antenna to get the signal out to where the clients are. They don't use leaky coax. You may want to check out their solution:

http://www.mobileaccess.com/ [mobileaccess.com]

When you said "zero-managment access points", were you referring to Cisco's LWAPP architecture or did you have another product in mind? LWAPP takes all of the "smarts" out of the access points and moves that processing back to the wireless controllers in the closets.

Re:Unrealistic convergence plan (2, Informative)

Bruce Perens (3872) | more than 6 years ago | (#19461955)

I wasn't talking about leaky coax, but TV coax - RG-6, -57, -59, etc. Some of the "antenna distribution systems" not only use that, they might even use the same wire that is used to distribute television around the building. Obviously a solution that does not require wire pulling is attractive to these properties, that's why so many of the hotel-room wired Ethernet devices are really a sort of short-haul DSL piggybacked on the room phone line. I bet they feed the WAPs with that pseudo-DSL, too.

When you said "zero-managment access points", were you referring to Cisco's LWAPP architecture
Cisco has a nice product in this niche, maybe with better reliability than consumer equipment and maybe that is worth the price. But most consumer equipment can be put into "LAN Bridge Mode" and would achieve the same thing.

Thanks

Bruce

Re:Unrealistic convergence plan (1)

Wolfrider (856) | more than 6 years ago | (#19462561)

--Bruce, sounds like you should send a friendly Note to Teh Brasshats before they screw up their implementation again. ;-) // YA, SRSLY :)

Astroturf? (5, Insightful)

UESMark (678941) | more than 6 years ago | (#19455577)

This seems like a thinly veiled ad for Marriot internet access.

Re:Astroturf? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19455797)

Idiot.

Re:Astroturf? (1)

owlstead (636356) | more than 6 years ago | (#19456505)

"Plans for hotels include a distributed antenna system with a converged voice and data network, having all access points located in the telecom closet, up to four antennas used for coverage, and up to four access points used for bandwidth."

Dunno, if it is an astroturf, then they probably don't want the author to write articles like this. Sounds like a clueless person on the technical side of things.

Can anyone please explain what this means? I presume these antenna's are fixed to the access points, so of course there are four of both. And then there are four access points all in the same closet? What's the use of *that*? Or are there four locations, each with its own antenna, with four access points each? Is that even possible?

Re:Astroturf? (1)

Peter La Casse (3992) | more than 6 years ago | (#19459245)

In the same sentence, the article refers to both an "access point" and a "distributed antenna system," indicating that when they say "access point" they're probably not talking about the $2.99 device from CompUSA.

It seems like when they say "access point" they mean "connection to another network outside the hotel". Currently, data might come in a variety of places -- maybe they have a directional antenna on the roof for each local HD tower, plus a satellite dish, plus an internet connection, plus a cable TV connection (maybe they get local channels via cable and other channels via satellite). If things were created in an ad hoc manner there could be multiple wiring closets scattered around a building. Centralizing all that in a single "telecom closet" sounds like a smart move, as does figuring out how to put all those different services on a single physical network inside the hotel.

Re:Astroturf? (1)

scottv67 (731709) | more than 6 years ago | (#19461335)

Actually, that section of the article sounds a LOT like the solution from Mobile Access:

Plans for hotels include a distributed antenna system with a converged voice and data network, having all access points located in the telecom closet, up to four antennas used for coverage, and up to four access points used for bandwidth.

The wireless access points live in the wiring closet and then Mobile Access' antenna infrastructure is used to get the signal out closer to the wireless clients. The wireless access points and their associated antenna and not directly connected to each other. Instead, there is a long "extension cord" between the AP and the antenna.

http://www.mobileaccess.com/ [mobileaccess.com]

Re:Astroturf? (1)

scottv67 (731709) | more than 6 years ago | (#19461301)

Can anyone please explain what this means? I presume these antenna's are fixed to the access points, so of course there are four of both. And then there are four access points all in the same closet? What's the use of *that*? Or are there four locations, each with its own antenna, with four access points each? Is that even possible?

Instead of the "classic" model where the antenna and the wireless access point are separated by a few feet of coax and the pair are installed in the ceiling near the clients, there is another option where the wireless access points are all installed in a central wiring closet and then a special cable infrastructure is used to carry the 802.11 signal out to where the clients sit. Here is one company that offers such a solution:

http://www.mobileaccess.com/ [mobileaccess.com]

Why would someone want to use this? Imagine a hospital environment where the wireless access points where all of the APs are installed in the wiring closet for each floor (instead of having the APs living above the ceiling). This makes troubleshooting and replacing the access points easier since they are in a wiring closet, not near patient rooms or in an operating suite. The only hardware close to the wireless clients is the antenna. This same antenna infrastructure can also be used to carry cellular phone traffic, two-way radios and emergency communications.

As another poster said, this setup is not the $2.99 access points that you would see at Best Buy. :^)

Networked Door Locks ? (1)

The Media Mechanic (1084283) | more than 6 years ago | (#19455771)

They want to put door locks on the hotel network ??? This has got to be the smartest idea I've ever heard. Because we all know that plugging Ethernet cord into something instantly gives you more protection and security!

Job security (1)

adarklite (1033564) | more than 6 years ago | (#19455969)

At first I thought Marriott was going to fire this guy. Then I realized that he just gave himself job security. What network admin will want to deal with this particular nightmare? Not I.

Microsoft update + Public Network = Instant DOS (2, Interesting)

James_G (71902) | more than 6 years ago | (#19456043)

While I was at the 2005 MysqlUC in Santa Clara, Microsoft put out one of their massive patch releases. Despite a large number of people running OS X or some Linux variant, there were still enough geeks in the hotel running Windows that they essentially DoS'ed the hotel's internet connection for about 2 days. I went down to reception at the time to find out if it was just the wireless, but the front desk people were similarly frustrated (they shared the same connection). Packet loss was at about 99%.

That was probably just a T1 or something, but still, pretty funny. I wonder if Microsoft realises the damage potential..

Re:Microsoft update + Public Network = Instant DOS (2, Insightful)

imac.usr (58845) | more than 6 years ago | (#19457961)

What kind of fucking idiot updates their laptop during a conference? You wait to do that shit until you get back home in case it screws your machine.

Re:Microsoft update + Public Network = Instant DOS (4, Interesting)

Nezer (92629) | more than 6 years ago | (#19458189)

What kind of fucking idiot updates their laptop during a conference? You wait to do that shit until you get back home in case it screws your machine.


Let's see... At a conference your computer is connected to hostile networks nearly all the time. Depending on the conference, there are potentially a LOT of people that know about 0-day exploits and might want to try something dumb.

I dunno. I can see your argument but there may be very good reasons to patch your system ASAP. I used to work in an environment where NOTHING got patched because they were afraid of fucking-up production services. I argued until I was blue in the face that we needed to do something and have a plan for deploying patches. I even went so far as to make proposals explaining the benefits, the risks, and the costs. No one would listen to me because I was a UNIX admin on a Windows team. Eventually I was let go and no one else took-up my cause (perhaps the cause was a large reason I was let go). No one on the team, except me, felt that there was any risk because the networks were "isolated" behind three layers of firewalls. About three months after I left some nasty work managed to find it's way into this "isolated" network and wreak much more havoc than we ever could have patching the damned servers.

I know that this isn't exactly the same thing as updating your laptop while on the road, but sometimes the updates are just worth the risk.

Perhaps the hotels should consider a caching proxy for just these sorts of events. Let the first user wait for the the download to come down the pipe and everyone else can leach from the proxy.

Re:Microsoft update + Public Network = Instant DOS (1)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 6 years ago | (#19464417)

No one would listen to me because I was a UNIX admin on a Windows team. Eventually I was let go and no one else took-up my cause (perhaps the cause was a large reason I was let go).
You seem a bit bitter.

About three months after I left some nasty work managed to find it's way into this "isolated" network and wreak much more havoc than we ever could have patching the damned servers.
Hmm. Let me get this straight, it "managed" to find its way onto the network about three months after you were let go? Sounds suspicious to me.

Note to self: Do not fire Nezer unless I'm sure everything is locked down tight. :)

Re:Microsoft update + Public Network = Instant DOS (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19459551)

Knowing about Windows' incessant security holes, what kind of fucking idiot *DOESN'T* install patches whilst on the road, given they are attaching to networks with hostiles on them.

Re:Microsoft update + Public Network = Instant DOS (1)

Nurgled (63197) | more than 6 years ago | (#19462793)

At least by default, Windows Update will download updates in the background and then offer to install them once the download has completed.

Re:Microsoft update + Public Network = Instant DOS (1)

simong (32944) | more than 6 years ago | (#19463259)

You do realise that in any conference, there is at least one fucking idiot? It's a rule of life.

Ack (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19456185)

I had to endure a week of Marriott internet access earlier this year. Not only did they nickel and dime you if you for using wired ethernet, they were preforming some kind of packet filtering. SSH would only work if you used a US based encryption protocol, really wierd. Also, because of the packet filetering even a simple task like uploading photos to the server back home took hours.

Lucky (1)

Esc7 (996317) | more than 6 years ago | (#19456237)

"The good news is bandwidth will never be more expensive and it will never be slower than it is today."

Someone doesn't have cable!

Ironically... (2, Interesting)

EReidJ (551124) | more than 6 years ago | (#19456953)

With some irony, I am reading this story from a Marriott hotel room at the Marriott Boca Raton. I've had mostly no problem with their services, but here are a few things I would call interesting: * My laptop can often see multiple nodes, some very fast, some blazingly slow. If you stay in a Marriott, try out the different nodes you can see. * Some Marriott properties give free Internet access, some cost $10/day. I wish Marriott would be consistent across all their properties. * If you stay in a Marriott that does charge for access, as for a low floor. This is because often there's a single wireless connection in the business center that is free, but other access points cost money. So if you can get a room near the business center, you'll be able to hook up to that one for free. * Finally, I've never had a problem with BitTorrent uploading at any Marriott property. I don't know if they leave all their ports open or what, but I traditionally leave my uploading port for BitTorrent open on 34567, and I've never had a problem with a torrent at a Marriott.

Ah, the joys of a downmarket employer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19458133)

who insists I stay in Motel6s and Econolodges. They have free wireless, and I always let Samir or Rasheed know that I'm travelling on business and I need the wireless to prepare for my next day's work. They always understand and find me a room with good signal. It always works.

Now if I can just get the ExcelInns in Wisconsin to go back to their old provider, man their new access provider doesn't know wtf they're doing.

The Marriots and Hiltons have great meeting facilities, but if you just need a place to crash and file your reports, go someplace that specializes in that.

Re:Ironically... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19463545)

You leave 34567 open and magically the router port forwards to you, allowing torrents to fly?

This post reeks of astro-turfing almost as bad as the article....

One quote stands out... (1)

idontgno (624372) | more than 6 years ago | (#19459421)

I can take 100,000 customers a night on that infrastructure and we actually have less incidents of harm than we do on our corporate back-office infrastructure.'"

That says less about the robustness of the hospitality net and more about the poor planning and administration of the enterprise intranet.

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