Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2011

The Pleasance comprises of twenty plus venues jam packed into converted spaces for the Festival. Covering two sites, Pleasance is one of the largest Fringe venues with IT needs to match. During the Fringe, Pleasance splits its entire operation in two, leaving the Islington premises fully functional while a team moves up to Edinburgh to build and run its Fringe venues.

From an IT perspective this means not only does the infrastructure in London need to remain functional but a whole new system must be installed in Edinburgh. Within a week of gaining access to site, production staff need to be online and connected back to London. Within 2 weeks the site must be selling tickets through its two Box Offices located at the Courtyard and Dome.

Pleasance’s IT administrator, Andrew Niekirk has a mammoth task each year to accommodate the ever growing needs. Event Systems joined Andrew in 2011 and will be returning this year in 2012 to provide technical support. The Edinburgh network must support general network traffic for file and printer sharing, whilst also performing to meet the demands of the VIA ticketing system provided by Edinburgh based RED61. Only skeleton infrastructure is left in each year comprising of a few backbone links around the courtyard.

Over 120 end terminals end up fighting for resources across the the two sites, meaning careful planning must be done. The links between sites is handled by RED61 and this includes the link to London. Pleasance offer a Free WiFi service at both sites which in 2011 was upgraded to a Mikrotik and Ubiquiti based solution. Pleasance now has the ability to provide login access to cast and crew allowing bandwidth control and separation from public access.

On top of all this, Pleasance run its call centre at the courtyard requiring a  20 line SIP trunk to be installed by Scottish telco Highnet. This feeds into a Samsung PBX that drives both digital phones and SIP phones at both sites.

The Edinburgh network must be stable so that tickets can always be sold, downtime really does cost money with this setup. With this in mind the 2012 network is moving towards Cisco Catalyst switches to help segment the network into more manageable VLAN’s as well as to separate the ticketing traffic from other services such as Public WiFi and the CCTV network.

Client: Pleasance Theater Trust
Crew: Andrew Hebblethwaite

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