Democratic Convention to Show Video Using Silverlight

Concerns

But anyone considering the technology for this summer has some questions to weigh. Ray Valdes, a Gartner analyst, said he views Silverlight 2 as "in effect, a 1.0 release." He added that it's reasonable to ask, "Will the technology be bulletproof on this high-scale endeavor when it hasn't been released yet? How many users will go to the level of downloading the plug-in?"

Microsoft said its Silverlight 2 beta plug-in is a quick 4 MB download for users. A company spokeswoman added that Microsoft is committed to providing a "stable, quality release" that will automatically update with the final Silverlight 2 release. She said customers such as Hard Rock Hotel Inc. and British Broadcasting Corp. are already using Silverlight 2 beta 1, replete with "deep zoom" capabilities, with no issues to date.

Colangelo said, "We have sufficient confidence that the technology will be out there, robust and available to our end users." Myers added that viewers who aren't equipped for high definition will still be able to watch and get a great experience.

Convention-al Networking

The Democratic National Convention expects to use a lot of networking gear to support the activities at the convention in August in Denver. A sample:

Estimated miles of cables that the DNCC has already run to set up its systems: 43

Estimated number of miles of copper to be used in the convention: 160

Estimated number of voice grade circuits that will be used in the convention: 2,500

Estimated number of data lines that will be used to wire the convention hall: 3,000

Democrats' Coalition of Tech Partners Also Includes Open Source

The DNCC will be pursuing its plans with no developers on its staff. Microsoft, the DNCC's "official software and HD Web content provider," is building the multimedia applications with a partner, Vertigo Software Inc.

Microsoft is working with another partner, Infusion Development Corp., on a Silverlight- and SQL Server-based delegate voting system that will provide up-to-the-minute delegate vote totals. Other custom applications include delegate- and carbon-footprint-tracking systems.

To cope with the challenge of ramping up a state-of-the-art enterprise in roughly a year, with limited funding (the party would not disclose its budget for this project), the DNCC partners with vendors that provide technology and services as in-kind contributions.

"We don't pick a partner, a program, an application because a partner wants to give it to us," said Colangelo. "All the technology that we use has mapped to a business requirement. We're not building technology for technology's sake."

Along with Microsoft, "official providers" announced to date are: AT&T, for wireless communication services and equipment, including the staff's BlackBerry devices; Broomfield, Colo.-based Level 3 Communications Inc., for the communications network that will deliver live analog and high-definition video broadcasts, downloads, streaming and general content; and Denver-based Qwest Communications International Inc., for wire-based voice and data services, including high-speed Internet.

In addition to consulting and custom applications, Microsoft is providing business productivity, e-mail and real-time collaboration applications, including Exchange Server, SharePoint, Office Communications Server and Live Meeting. The DNCC also is using Microsoft's Virtual Server 2005, with Windows Server 2003, to maximize server utilization, in keeping with the convention's "green" focus.

The DNCC, however, is not using Microsoft technology exclusively. The Web site will run open-source Apache servers on BSD Linux, along with Windows servers. Site content and staff blogs are handled by the open-source SilverStripe content management system and framework, according to Colangelo.

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