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Ethernet Case Study: Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum

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Network expert Bill Stallings provides a case study of the use of Ethernet.
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The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum, established to preserve the history of rock music, opened in late 1995 in Cleveland. In addition to housing rock-and-roll memorabilia such as John Lennon's spectacles and Jimi Hendrix's guitar, the Hall of Fame devotes about 2,000 square feet to interactive multimedia kiosks that feature real-time audio and video exhibits. Designing and implementing a system that would deliver audio and full-motion video to 25 multimedia kiosks turned out to be no small undertaking.

The broad goal of the project was to be able to deliver streamed video over a fault-tolerant system to Macintosh workstations within two seconds of a request. The project was contracted out to CIBER (Consultants in Business, Engineering, and Research), a San Francisco–based systems integrator.

Phase 1: Ethernet

CIBER initially felt that a 10BASE-T Ethernet system would be adequate for the job. The plan was to have two servers, with identical sets of digitized audio and video clips on disk. This would allow one server to pick up the job if the other went down. With everything connected to the same Ethernet, there was full connectivity with a minimum of hardware. CIBER set up a demonstration for the customer. Unfortunately, as the load on the system was increased—but still well within projected demand—the system began to drop packets due to congestion.

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