Case Studies

Roskilde Festival Serves Up 24/7 Continuous Operations with WhatsUp Gold

Thanks to WhatsUp Gold, the IT team was able to display multiple dashboards on multiple screens, undertaking minute-by-minute monitoring of the extensive infrastructure.

Network monitoring solution to keep performers, festival goers, event teams, the press and commercial partners online and connected to on-site services – no matter what the demand.

Since its inception in 1971, Roskilde Festival in Denmark has grown to become one of the biggest culture and music festivals in Europe. In 2015, the annual eight-day event featured 175 artists, with headline acts like Paul McCartney, Kendrick Lamar, Muse, Pharrell Williams, and Florence and The Machine taking to the festival’s iconic Orange Stage. Attracting a massive audience of 135,000 festival goers, the event was covered by 2,500 journalists reporting for newspapers, digital media and TV channels from around the globe.

Organized by Roskilde Festival Charity Society, all profits from the festival are donated to national and international humanitarian and cultural causes. Over the years the festival has generated over €26.4 million for numerous worldwide projects and charities.

Scaling fast – and with confidence

With just 70 full time employees, Roskilde Festival’s event team is boosted by around 32,000 festival volunteers who assist with the set up and day-to-day management of the event’s eight stages, art zones, food courts, craft zones, and camping and accommodation areas.

“Roskilde Festival is like a huge temporary city. Each year we build out and scale up our network to support continuous operations for the duration of the event–providing everything from CCTV and secure payment services to all locations, to delivering public WiFi and uninterrupted broadband internet access for festival goers,” explained IT Manager, Steen Bechmann Henningsen.

The network infrastructure sits at the heart of the event’s critical operations. The festival site, located 1.5 Km away from the operational HQ, features a permanently installed 10 Km fiber optic backbone.

Onto this are deployed 30 fiber switch boxes supporting dedicated point-to- point links, over 100 wireless hotspots, and multiple secure networks hosting video surveillance and GPS tracking of security staff. In addition there are secure payment services for catering and merchandiser stalls, private LANs for the production teams at the stages, a secure WiFi network for performers, plus a dedicated press network that incorporates live-streaming capacity for TV and content partners. The extensive network is complemented by temporary additional cellphone capacity delivered by three national mobile operators.

“Quite simply, the infrastructure has to ‘just work’ all of the time, no matter what the demand, or who or where on the site users are. For example, an hour’s outage at the tills means merchants can’t take money, festival goers can’t purchase food or drink, and our ability to raise funds for charitable causes is impacted,” explained Steen.

To proactively eliminate any risk of downtime, the IT team needed to know about any potential problem or point of failure well ahead of the  game.

End-to-end monitoring and visibility

Achieving a high performing stable infrastructure meant the IT team needs to perform 24/7 monitoring of all networks, servers, devices and applications that form part and parcel of the extended end-to-end environment.

In preparation for the festival, the team faced the mammoth task of scaling up the enterprise network. The network normally serves 70 employees at locations in Roskilde and about 1,000 volunteers around Denmark – to support 32,000 volunteers involved with pre-event preparations and on-site operations during the festival, and deliver a full range of festival services to event work teams, commercial partners, festival goers, artists and the press.

Having previously relied on an open-source IP tool with limited capabilities, the IT team needed a powerful yet easy-to-use solution that delivered the deep insights needed to respond fast and effectively. Ensuring essential services stay up and running, and perform as expected.

“We wanted to gain a global and granular view of the entire end-to-end environment, with an at-a-glance visibility of every switch, port and device,” explained Steen. “And that’s exactly what WhatsUp Gold delivered.”

Using WhatsUp Gold, the IT team was able to quickly map all assets and gain a comprehensive overview of all inter-dependencies across networks, systems and applications. Armed with this visual overview, the support team could undertake configuration management with confidence to optimize the estate’s performance.

“WhatsUp Gold proved very straightforward to set up and use,” said Steen. “We created customized troubleshooting alerts for every aspect of the infrastructure – everything from monitoring disk usage to tracking network traffic patterns and potential bottlenecks – so we could take action the moment a problem was detected and proactively resolve any potential performance problem.”

Flawless pitch-perfect operations

Thanks to WhatsUp Gold, the IT team was able to display multiple dashboards on multiple screens, undertaking minute-by-minute monitoring of the extensive infrastructure – which included 200 cash registers and 200 payment terminals, private LAN services and order fulfillment systems.

During the 2015 event, the wireless hotspots successfully maintained services for 2,200 concurrent users and 16,000 unique users who signed up for the event’s free WiFi service. What’s more, the extended network enabled an average of 100,000 cash register transactions each day.

WhatsUp Gold also enabled the support team to keep its finger on what was happening at remote locations, such as campsites and parking areas where radio links providing connectivity to the fiber network were supplemented by WiFi networks.

“This year we were even able to sustain good services at traditionally ‘hard to reach’ sites. For example, we were able to implement payment services for 10 mobile food stalls and coffee vans – making it seamless and easy for festival goers to pay on the go,” concludes Steen.

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