Next Level Leadership Conference

Today was the final day of the Next Level Leadership Conference here at Savannah Christian Church… and what a great conference it was. Every year, church leaders across America and around the world come to SCC to network together, and seek out how to take their church to the “Next Level”. We are blessed to be able to give back by teaching what we have learned after many years of conferences ourselves as we have grown over the years, and continue to grow daily.

On the IT side, we not only make sure that our internal infrastructure is performing optimally, but we also offer wireless internet and Internet Kiosks for our guest to use.

For the wireless internet (guest network), we use a device called a Guest Gate, which is a very affordable hardware appliance that separates our guest network from our private network. By adding switches and wireless access points behind the Guest Gate, we are able to create a guest network that is totally isolated from our internal, private network. It works very well! This year, we used an Apple Airport Extreme base station as a central wireless access router for our public network. We also used two Apple Airport Express access points to extend/boost the signal in areas where the signal had gotten weak. The Airport Express access points are actually able to “extend a network”, rather than creating a new network, which is very nice! Doing this, we were able to cover most of the building for Public Wifi.

For our “Internet Kiosks”, we used 4 of our 16 check-in stations. Our check-in stations are non-domain joined, Windows 7 machines with Microsoft Steady State installed. We use Windows 2008 Terminal Server Published App/Remote App to push ACS Check-point to the computer. So, moving these machines to our guest network was simple. We added a “nextlevel” local account without a password, locked the account down with Windows Steady State, disable the ACS local account that we use for the weekends, and move the computers network lines to the guest network in the datacenter. The result, a quick-to-deploy internet kiosk that is completely locked down and isolated from our network. In addition to the security of the computer, we also implemented OpenDNS.com this year for our guest network. Doing this, we were able to protect our guests from certain areas of the internet using OpenDNS’s filters, as well as preserving the bandwidth by blocking access to file sharing, audio & video streaming, etc.

This morning, we had a Q&A-Information Technology session where we were able to take an hour and sit down with guests to talk about IT in their churches. It went really well. A special thanks to Ernesto, Winston and Scott for doing an excellent job assisting in facilitating this session.

Here are a few pictures from Main sessions of the conference, and the Internet Kiosks:

Command Center :0)
Monitoring the SCC Private & Guest Networks

Normally Check-in Stations being used as Internet Kiosks for the Conference.

Shots of the Praise Services that kicked off the Conference on Wednesday night, and main sessions of the conference on Thursday and Friday.