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Ticketmaster books a private cloud with Cisco

Ticketmaster books a private cloud with Cisco

The third largest e-commerce company in North America is moving much of its operations to the cloud.

Live Nation Entertainment, which operates online ticket sales site Ticketmaster and three other entertainment-related businesses, is clouding up its Ticketmaster and Live Nation Concert and Network operations to achieve the efficiencies of virtualization and speed time-to-market with new offerings. The company is in the very early stages of its private cloud implementation, however, so efficiencies are currently difficult to quantify.

But it's a sizable undertaking. Live Nation has 7,000 employees in 153 offices spread across 18 countries. Its revenue in 2011 was $5.4 billion, of which Ticketmaster accounted for $1.56 billion and other Live Nation operations $3.8 billion.

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The entertainment conglomerate conducts 22,000 concerts globally for 2,300 artists, operates recording studios at 80 venues -- which include the House of Blues chain in North America -- and interfaces with 200 million customers and potential customers.

Ticketmaster itself sold more than 141 million tickets in 2011. And the site lists more than 100,000 events globally each year.

Fourteen thousand of those tickets are sold per minute through transactions churning through the company's 10 data centers. The company's network is built with Cisco Nexus 7010, 5596 and 5548, and 2232 and 2248 switches and fabric extenders; Catalyst 6500, 4500, 3700, 3500, 2900 and 2800 switches; 1,150 Cisco ISR G2 branch routers; ASA 5585X, 5505 and SSP40 firewalls, and IronPort security appliances.

The Nexus switches and ASA firewalls are key components of Live Nation's cloud implementation as well. Live Nation is looking to deploy an "infrastructure-as-a-service" model with logical separation of products, services and management domains among its businesses.

The company is migrating all of its existing products into the IaaS cloud and developing self-service tools and APIs to give tenants from its various businesses and product lines more direct control over their environment, says Jason Brockett, director of network operations for Live Nation.

The Live Nation IaaS cloud will support thousands of virtual machine across thousands of bare metal servers and hundreds of terabytes of storage in three U.S. data centers, Brockett says. The company is implementing an active-active fabric of Layer 2 paths using the virtual PortChannel capability of the Nexus switches to activate parallel paths and remove Spanning Tree blocks.

Live Nation plans to implement Cisco's FabricPath fabric technology in the future, as well as the company's Locator/ID Separation Protocol (LISP), which is designed to improve addressing and load balancing for enterprises working with multiple ISPs; and Overlay Transport Virtualization (OTV) to simplify establishment of data center interconnect links by extending Layer 2 Ethernet LANs across geographically dispersed data centers.

Akamai will be used for load balancing between data centers, Brockett says.

ASA appliances will be clustered within data centers to support a Dynamic Multipoint VPN client architecture, including BYOD mobile devices running Cisco's AnyConnect Secure Mobility Client VPN software. Live Nation is looking at implementing a shared licensing model for deploying SSL-based VPNs, Brockett said.

The company is not deploying a virtual desktop infrastructure at this time.

Also of interest to Live Nation is the notion of software-defined networking (SDN). SDNs promise to abstract network operation from the physical infrastructure, enabling faster and easier programmability, configurability and feature extension through software.

"It's interesting to us," Brockett says. "It's something we're trying to utilize to further virtualization."

One thing Live Nation is not contemplating is doing public cloud credit card transactions, Brockett says.

"There are lots of steps for dynamically connecting to public clouds from private clouds," he says. "PCI-compliant public clouds are not easy to find right now."

But Live Nation officials say they plan to augment its private cloud with public cloud interaction in the near future. And the private cloud will expand to international data centers in the next year or so, they say.

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