Wiring Fenway

By Stan Gibson  |  Posted 2004-11-29 Print this article Print

"The network was a hodgepodge and not tied together. There was no real storage capacity, just an e-mail server," said Conley. "It crashed once a day. People just dealt with it. For me, it was an embarrassment."

"If I could have done it financially, I would have replaced the whole infrastructure," Conley said. Instead, he put together a three-year plan. From a tiny office underneath Fenway Parks home-plate grandstand, Conley has overseen the steady replacement of the teams PCs, servers and network. He has also rolled out Scout Advisor, an IBM Lotus Notes-based scouting system thats hosted by E Solutions Corp., and a Wi-Fi network for press photographers that lets them file their photos from the press box. He is in the midst of rolling out a VOIP (voice over IP) system, with new CRM (customer relationship management) and EIS (executive information system) deployments on the horizon.

When Conley surveyed the IT infrastructure at Fenway Park, which was built in 1912, the one bright spot was the fiber-optic cable that had been strung through the ballpark in the early 1990s. Conley built on that network, bringing in Extreme Networks Summit 2400 and Alpine Layer 3 switches with intelligent routing. Now all users have 10/100M-bps Ethernet with Gigabit Ethernet server uplinks. Conley is segmenting the network for the heavy video users who produce the "Red Sox Stories" and "The Red Sox Report" TV shows and said he is considering bringing Gigabit Ethernet to their desktops.

Conley also called on CTC Communications Corp. for Internet access services and uses a Cisco Systems Inc. VPN and a Check Point Software Technologies Ltd. firewall.

Conley has increased the PC population to nearly 200, including a number with flat-panel screens for cramped Fenway and laptops for the 50-person scouting staff. At the ballpark, 80 percent of some 140 Hewlett-Packard Development Company L.P. PCs are running Windows XP Professional, with 20 percent running Windows 2000. Working with solution provider Akibia Inc., Conley recently upgraded users to Microsoft Corp.s Office 2003 and Exchange Server 2003.

In the server room, Conley brought in HP ProLiant rack-mounted systems and installed an HP Modular Smart Array Fibre Channel SAN (storage area network). Hes now looking at wares from several vendors, including EMC Corp. and Hitachi Data Systems Corp., to upgrade the SAN. Eventually, extensive video storage demands could drive his capacity to 130 uncompressed terabytes.

No less important was a telephone system upgrade from a 20-year-old Mitel Network Systems Corp. system for ticket sales and a Nortel Networks Ltd. Centrex system for office staff. "It gave up the ghost just before tickets went on sale for the 2003 season," Conley said. "We rented a small Avaya [Inc.] platform for one year."

That system was upgraded to an Avaya 8700. "We put in the new system over Christmas and New Year. There was not one lost call during the upgrade," Conley said.

Next Page: VOIP for Tech-Savvy Scouts

Stan Gibson is Executive Editor of eWEEK. In addition to taking part in Ziff Davis eSeminars and taking charge of special editorial projects, his columns and editorials appear regularly in both the print and online editions of eWEEK. He is chairman of eWEEK's Editorial Board, which received the 1999 Jesse H. Neal Award of the American Business Press. In ten years at eWEEK, Gibson has served eWEEK (formerly PC Week) as Executive Editor/eBiz Strategies, Deputy News Editor, Networking Editor, Assignment Editor and Department Editor. His Webcast program, 'Take Down,' appeared on Zcast.tv. He has appeared on many radio and television programs including TechTV, CNBC, PBS, WBZ-Boston, WEVD New York and New England Cable News. Gibson has appeared as keynoter at many conferences, including CAMP Expo, Society for Information Management, and the Technology Managers Forum. A 19-year veteran covering information technology, he was previously News Editor at Communications Week and was Software Editor and Systems Editor at Computerworld.

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