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Old 28-03-2008, 12:15 AM   #1
olobley

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GameOn Networking Core

So some of you may wonder what goes on between LANs back at network HQ.
Sadly, it's not as exciting as the W&P juice research department, although it does involve nearly as much alcohol.
First a bit of history:

Core 1:

Got to start somewhere I guess. When I first started at LANs, there was a general mish-mash of equipment, which while doing the job had issues when people were downloading patches off the patch server, as this tended to use most of the switches uplink to the core and caused issues for a whole row.
If anyone has any good photos of the original setups, I'd be most interested in these in the interests of making this more of an article, rather than a post.

Core 2:

Core 2 was a stepping stone in the right direction. We standardised on Cisco equipment, which helped with the configuration side of things, and moved to gigabit links between the core where the servers were connected and the edges where the users connect in.
We stuck with the Cisco 55xx series chassis:

Photo taken of one in the boot of the car pending removal from work
After a few upgrades (new supervisor card and memory - both in the picture)
Core 2 removed most of the issues we had seen with Core 1, in that users could download patches from the central servers without affecting the other users on their row.
Core 2 however did come with a few caveats.
Firstly, the performance left something to be desired, and at the larger lans we were starting to hit 30% of the backplane capacity.
Secondly, due to limitations with the hardware, there were a few limits to the capacity to uplink to the core and re-allocate ports into dynamic vlans (more on why that might be a good thing later)
Rash - Can I get the photos I took on your camera from the last LAN I attended, as there should be a couple of decent ones of this version of the Core

Edit: bugger - hit enter too soon.
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Old 28-03-2008, 12:28 AM   #2
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Core 3:

The third installment of the core.
The catalyst 5500 series are starting to show their age and as we're experiencing hardware failures between LANs, we decided to move to a new platform.
Core 3 will be based predominantly around the Cisco 4000 series chassis.
First a pic:



There are four of the 4000 series shown in the photo, and a single 3548XL.
Firstly, yes, there are a few linecards missing (waiting on the post atm), so once they have arrived I'll add to the pictures.
The 4000's are in two different configurations. The top-right one will be the new server core switch, and has capacity to uplink to up to six edge switches. One important thing of note in this unit is the L3 routing card (second slot down) which will be more useful in Core 4, but should give us a lot of options over Core 3's lifetime.
The remaining 3 4000 series in the picture will be row-end switches. When fully kitted out, these would happily support 240 players each.
Finally, top right of the switch stack is a 3548XL. More of a 'work-in-progress' at the moment, for the smaller lans, these switches could be a boon as they are small, portable and pack reasonable performance for their size.
The 4000's will also bring a few other niceties which while technically possible under Core 2 were not implemented due to performance concerns.
Firstly, for clan matches/tournaments, the players in the tournament and the servers they are playing on will be placed into a separate vlan which will carry a higher QoS priority than regular LAN traffic, meaning that their gaming will not be impacted by other users on the network.
Secondly, while it won't technically make a large difference at the smaller lans, for lans over a certain size, we will be able to push routing descisions to the edge switches (as the supervisors will have the 'grunt' to cope with it) which will allow for a much better separated and less 'noisy' network

Core 3.5:

I'll update this as/when all the kit required has arrived. Core 3.5 will replace the 4000 series chassis that will function as the core/server switch with a 6509 rolling with a NFFC.
The key thing to mention here is that with the introduction of the 6509 as the core, the overall network can move from being a star network to a ringed-star network. Allowing for the failure of the core switch, without impacting the integrity of the network as a whole
So the progression to 3.5 is looking like moving forwards a bit. The 6509 will most likely arrive next week, and due to a lucky break, I was able to get an SFM module, which will expand the backplane from 32Gbit to 256Gbit...

Core 4:

With the 6509 acting as the core switch, two of the edge switches will be upgraded to Catalyst 4500 series switching platforms with the fourth version of the series Supervisors running in them. At this point, i should also have gigabit line-cards and 10Ge uplinks, allowing gigabit to the edge for the majority of players.

Last edited by olobley; 28-03-2008 at 05:20 PM.
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Old 28-03-2008, 12:46 AM   #3
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It should also be noted that the networking side doesn't actually stop with the physical network.
For a LAN to function, one also needs computing resources to support it.
To this end, we have been working behind the scenes to try and improve the server infrastructure to enhance your LAN experience. The advances here have followed almost in-line with the networking core, so for the sake of simplicity, I'll list them using the same timeline:

Core 1:

When I first started with the LAN scene, Most of the server infrastructure was supplied by SCAN computers, and while useful, it did prove problematic if resources at SCAN weren't available before the LANs. To address this issue, it was decided to bring the servers 'in-house'

Core 2:

Having realised the need for our own servers, I began looking around for options. With the hardware upgrade cycle at work neatly co-inciding with the date for a LAN, we moved all the servers over to the Dell GX270 series of workstations.
These were Pentium 4/3Ghz/1Gb ram, and provided a useful stepping stone away from the availability issues faced in Core 1, but while being suitable for the task, they left a lot to be desired on the management/redundancy front.
They only had single processors/non redundant memory/single hard-disks, and given the challenging conditions faced by LAN servers, their long-term prospects concerned me
(Anyone got any photos of the LANs where we had the GX series workstations running?)

Core 3:

With another hardware refresh cycle having just happened at work, we moved all the server roles onto 'actual' servers. Again from the Dell Shed, we moved onto the Poweredge 2650 Range of servers. These were all sporting twin Xeon processors, 4Gb's of Ram (see credits) and 5 disk Raid 5 arrays for the storage subsystem. Further, they boasted redundant power supplies, optimised network cards and considerably more useful management functions.
Pictured below is about half the server core:


Core 3.5:

Moving on from the 2650 range, the server core will be upgraded to the 2850 line of servers. Sporting a faster memory architecture and quicker processors, these should keep the server core in line with the ever increasing demands of the games of today

Core 4:

Currently investigating the dell 9 series blade chassis. This will allow the core to have a 16Gbit link directly into the network core and will make any/all of that bandwidth available to the servers that require it (pics to follow)

Last edited by Rasher; 28-03-2008 at 01:26 AM.
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Old 28-03-2008, 12:50 AM   #4
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Finally, no tech-expo would be complete without a quick list of thanks.
There are many people that have contributed to the development of the server and networking core, so if I've missed you off the list, please accept my sincere aplogies:

Kyle/Rash - For letting me 'loose' on the infrastructure in the first place
Marky Mark - For being invaluable in the early days of Core 2/3 and in helping to refine some of the ideas
Jim Digriz (non-GO user) - For his tireless patience with my (no doubt stupid) questions relating to certain aspects of the core.
Yargh - For helping us isolate and get rid of a few issues with the Windows Networking side of things
Milky - For sorting us out with all the RAM which enables us to maximise the benefit of the gameservers


And finally, a special shout out to the game-admins without who, all the aforementioned effort would be wasted
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Old 28-03-2008, 12:58 AM   #5
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Wow it seems like a lot of mumbo jumbo to me, but it all sounds impressive and although i have not attended a LAN yet, i am appretiative of everything that everyone offers to the GO community and hopefully within the next couple of months and i can start getting ahead of college work and start participating in getting the news up and upto date on the website.
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Old 28-03-2008, 01:25 AM   #6
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As you can see we have been able to make a lot of progress with the development of LANs
A couple of years back we started taking on people (Like Olly) to help relieve Kyle and myself from doing "everything"
This has been such a god send and allowed us to get on with other things/projects etc

Big thanks to Olly for taking over the network role and as you can see we now (+ already had) the infrastructure to increase our LAN sizes
We wanted to make sure we could handle the numbers with our own equipment rather than having to rely on sponsor's for a larger LAN and struggling to find the equipment.

This is going to give us a much needed hand in the following battles ahead with the LAN market.

Again big thanks to Olly for all the time he has spent on this for us.

(i will send photos tomorrow m8)
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Old 28-03-2008, 08:45 AM   #7
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Stickied and Renamed!

GameOn is how it is now a days thanks to everyone who is, has been, or will be involved.
Especially the end users, the paying gamer.

Having been an admin, and still playing a role within GameOn, I personally have seen the changes in the past 8 years. Safe to say it's ******* awesome.

Long live GameOn.
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Old 28-03-2008, 09:54 AM   #8
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the time, resources and effort put into this are immeasurable.

A beautiful thing to behold!

GameOn management owe a debt of gratitude to Olly for everything he has done and is doing today!

Hats off to you mate! Awesome job!
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Old 28-03-2008, 12:40 PM   #9
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/cheer
/salute

Nice work to Olly and to everyone else who plays their part in making GO lans better and better. You must all have brains the size of a planets to be able to get your head around all the net and svr side stuff.

/wave
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Old 28-03-2008, 12:48 PM   #10
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Old 28-03-2008, 01:58 PM   #11
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anyone want mine?
i have two to give away
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Old 28-03-2008, 02:28 PM   #12
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PM's Mrs Rash......
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Old 28-03-2008, 03:25 PM   #13
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Old 28-03-2008, 03:26 PM   #14
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Oops wrong one!

Make sure you're getting a fair deal!!

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Old 28-03-2008, 04:39 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rasher View Post
anyone want mine?
i have two to give away
No you can't give them away
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
I want a good price for them
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Old 28-03-2008, 05:12 PM   #16
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I think a lot of that went over most peoples head...


Linda should post a new thread with the information that really interests people - GameOn Kitchen Core
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Old 28-03-2008, 05:17 PM   #17
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Oh quite,
But I know a good few people have wandered up at LANs and done the who/what/when/where/why bit, so being as I had some spare time to kill last night, I thought I would.
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Old 28-03-2008, 05:37 PM   #18
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nice post and well worth the effort, look forward to any more add ins and beanz mentioned the kitchen core, i agree, also be good to know how you get so drunk making everybodys tea ?
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Old 28-03-2008, 06:51 PM   #19
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Very interesting! Nice post me thinks!

Me have loads of respect for all you people who put the lan together, and of course who goes and make it a lan.
Didnt think I would ever attend one, but I have, and glad I did.

And attend many more

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Old 28-03-2008, 07:13 PM   #20
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Additionally, I know a good few of you are responsible for Cisco related equipment at work. Certainly a lot of the working practices which we employ where I work came as a direct result of tests/ideas tested at the Gameon LANs. To this effect, if anyone has any suggestions, or wants to try out a particular idea (either as a trial-run for a work project, or just out of curiosity), please feel free to pop any of us a note, and we'll do our best to accomodate it.
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