[Chicago] PyCon 2008 Hotel Update -- (Networking & Space & a 2009 option)
tcp at mac.com
Thu Mar 15 17:08:24 CET 2007
There was a walk through of the hotel yesterday, in attendance were
Larry Skaja and Tim Costello from CTE, along with Carl Karsten and I.
We met with Don Johnston, the manager of A/V services, Sue Parikh,
the sales manager who's handling our contract, Marcia Perzyna, the
hotel's meeting director, and the hotel's IT manager, who's name/card
I didn't get and a few other executives from the hotel who were in
attendance for brief introductions, etc.
The bad news: the hotel's internet service is provided by iBAHN, no
real surprise there. The iBAHN service appears to only have one AP
per ballroom (we got a look at the network closets while we were on
the tour), so obviously we'd be facing the exact same sort of issues
we faced with the iBHAN provided network in Dallas in 2006.
The good news: The hotel is more than willing to work with us on
bringing in our own/separate internet service (this is a complete 180
from their previous stance!). They expressed genuine interest in
helping us get this worked out right -- they said they've had one or
two occasions where they had a large number of laptop users in a
concentrated area and had some networking issues with their iBAHN
provided network, which they viewed as a serious embarrassment.
They were willing to explore the idea of pushing iBAHN for more
service, but they discouraged that option as they'd prefer to keep
iBAHN out of the deal and they also didn't seem optimistic for
reasonable pricing for increased service.
We've agreed to leave the networking issues out of the contract, with
the understanding (written into the contract, I believe) that there
will be an additional agreement drafted about networking at a future
date. I see this as very reasonable -- it seemed clear to me that
they were taking our group very seriously and believing our
insistence that we'd overwhelm the current network.
Bringing in our own outside provider, with the hotel's help, may not
be cheap, but whatever price we pay, I'm certain it will be fair, and
that's a big improvement from what we saw in Dallas, from what I
gather. Doing so will likely require the hotel to do a number of
additional cable runs, from the main networking closet to the various
rooms where we'll want access points. At present, the iBAHN network
drops (which we'd have to work to use) are only a single cat 5 jack
per room, including ballrooms, from what we saw/were told. We'll
obviously need more/our own, dedicated runs which I'm sure that the
hotel will want us to cover some of the cost for those cable drops,
but Larry and I both think that we should not be paying much, if
anything, for that improvement. I'm sure we can work something out
as there'll be lasting value to the hotel in having them available,
so clearly they should share a good deal of the cost for that.
As far as ISP's go, the hotel is amenable to exploring any option
with us -- everything from DSL lines to a WISP to bringing in more T1
lines over the T3 line they've got running into their premises from
SBC. The only catch is that we'll need to get ourselves moving on
these plans ASAP -- the more lead time everyone involved has, the
What we need, ASAP:
- Bandwidth requirements. Sean's minimum was 9 mbps -- are we still
fine with that as a minimum? What would be our desired number?
- Number of AP's per ballroom/tutorial room -- this will give the
hotel an idea of what we'll need for the new cable runs.
What we need soon:
- An ISP and a networking plan.
See http://www.crowneplazaohare.com/page15.aspx for the room
The basic layout is that the ballrooms are all on the main level,
with one main hallway allowing access to all of them. One floor down
are all of the remaining rooms on that layout. Many of them are
directly underneath the ballrooms and the rest are along another
hallway that runs perpendicular to the main hallway, at its end. The
lower meeting rooms are connected to the upper level by a staircase
and an escalator. Elevators are available, but they're not ideally
located and would require a little walk to go from the ballrooms to
the meeting rooms directly below. The staircase/escalator are not
the largest I've seen, but they'll more than suffice for traffic
flow, given that our main sessions will all be in the ballroom spaces.
The Heathrow, Orly and Templehoff were tiny. That's fine we will
basically have the run of the place and can have as many or as few
rooms as we need. (and http://www.crowneplazaohare.com/pdfs/
capchart.pdf for the capacity info)
For tutorials, the Kennedy, Midway, Kitty Hawk, Kai Tak, Haneda, La
Guardia, and Love Int'l A and B could all suitably be used for
tutorial sessions. The Midway room was ideal in many respects,
resembling many a college classroom I've been in, complete with built-
For registration and then vendor/sponsor space, we can use the
atrium, which is a nice open feeling space on the other side of the
cafe area. This will give vendors/sponsors a more prominent
placement that will get them more mindshare than where we've had them
in previous years.
Adjacent to the atrium space is a decent sized room that used to be
the hotels video-game room, which they're adding as an office space
for the conference. It's lockable (no idea if we can get keys or if
we'll need security to do it) but it's secure and yet close to the
conference space and accessible. We can (obviously) use it for an
office or for storage if we need, but there'll be plenty of space for
We have a contract in hand for 2009 as well. The only difference
being that they want $105 per room night. That's not out of line
according to Larry and not unreasonable in my opinion.
We don't have to act on it now and we will have the right of first
refusal, so they won't sell it out from under us without giving us
the chance to sign.
Having this is an excellent bargaining chip for IT, Catering, and A/V
negotiations but I think we'd be best off holding off on signing it
until we've negotiated the catering and IT issues and explored other
options for other venues, such as something on the west coast. I
spoke with Larry about this issue this morning and he's willing to
work with us on finding west coast options (or anywhere else that the
group would like).
I'll post pictures shortly. Another email to follow.
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