AFTERBURN REPORT 2013
Burning Man Headquarters
We worked diligently throughout 2013 to meet the needs of the rapidly growing office staff. Our office laptop upgrade cycle has managed to outpace the staff growth to replace older laptops throughout the organization. This pace will need to continue, as our older laptops are in ever-higher demand during the event, as more departments continue to make better use of technology, thanks to the reliability of our expanding on-playa network.
Immediately after the 2013 event, we began preparing to move our office and network to our new location in the Mission District in San Francisco. Our new location provides an excellent base infrastructure from which to continue our growth, both in terms of wiring and in network equipment closets and server rooms.
During 2013, we replaced our outdated network gateway, several older data switches, and have begun replacing our Wi-Fi access points. We also continue to develop new processes and investigate new systems to improve reliability and enhance workflow for the office staff.
As more departments rely on technology to run their operations, the need for reliable systems to host our websites, software development and production has skyrocketed. To keep up with this fast growing trend, we recruited two part-time system administrators post event, to bring our server infrastructure to new levels of security, performance and efficiency.
We started with deploying a configuration management and application deployment tool across our server platform, which is a first step towards a more modular and flexible architecture. We also remodeled our backup system from the ground up, in order to be able to keep and retrieve archival data.
In 2013, we added several Wi-Fi nodes in critical locations of the Gerlach network, to allow more staff members to get connected to the outside world via the Internet.
Computer repair needs decreased drastically, after a significant upgrade to all our computers in 2011 and 2012. We improved the Gerlach webcam by adding an auto-iris, which allows better images in any light condition.
Black Rock Station
We improved our link to the Black Rock Station production facility (aka the Ranch), resolved some small issues, and are getting closer to 100% uptime. We are upgrading the solar power setup on one portion of the link, and the extra charging and battery capacity will allow it to work continuously during the darker winter days. We also improved the network at the Ranch itself by adding more Wi-Fi to expand the network, and cover a larger area. These upgrades also allow us to use VoIP phones anywhere we need them.
Black Rock CityThe network performance in Black Rock City in 2013 was excellent, and we were able to make good use of the upgrade of our link to 45mbps (up from 30mbps previously). We started using new gear from Ubiquity (Titanium) and worked to streamline the hardware used by staff, theme camps and artists to eradicate interferences, and the result was better performance for everyone.
After losing several pieces of equipment to electric storms in 2012, we increased our efforts to use grounding equipment and lightning arrestors. Despite several storms in 2013, we didn't experience any equipment failure. We implemented a new auto-configuration software, which was very successful considering it was an alpha version, and we hope to improve it for 2014. We had a new container built out for our Network Operations Center, which was necessary to accommodate a bigger crew.
The IT Ops crew is becoming very experienced and keeps improving every year. We had engineers on call during the event but no major problems happened. We were able to be proactive on customer service, and got excellent feedback post-event, both from Burning Man departments and from participants.
Brendan McKenna, Chris Petrell, Cat =^..^=, Eric Haugen, Trevor Ellermann