Virtual beers and pies

Virtual beers and pies

Virtualisation is helping to keep one of Australia’s great sporting stadiums world-class.

Saying Australians love their sport is more than just a cliche. We all know that whatever the sport - league, union, AFL, football, cricket, netball, surfing - we'll play it or watch it and have done so for generations. And we will continue to do so for many to come; it's built into our genes.

But one thing we also love is quality hospitality when we attend our worldclass stadiums. Indeed, Australia is home to the region's best facilities and arguably some of the leading venues worldwide.

One of these, ANZ Stadium, caters to more than 80,000 spectators for each of its 50 sporting events, concerts and corporate functions every year. That adds up to more than one million patrons annually, the majority of which look to purchase food and drink at the stadium in a timely manner.

And while the stadium's IT infrastructure has successfully handled this hospitality work load since the 2000 Olympics, after purchasing the venue's catering company the management recently sought to refresh their technology with the help of Sydney-based infrastructure integrator, IMC Communications.

The Situation

At the time of the Sydney Olympics the stadium's network infrastructure, POS hardware and operating software was comparable to the leading systems of the time. However, the downtime needed to service the system was taxing support staff and distracting hospitality staff away from their primary objective of providing quality service to patrons.

"It served them well but it was old school," IMC director of technology services, Andrew Gifford, said. "There were eight physical servers, two servers per quadrant at the stadium. So you can just imagine the hardware and ongoing maintenance costs to support eight physical servers that were only used during events. That was common technology back then, that's the way you did it. They were building these things to stay up during the Olympics so they couldn't exactly scrimp on resiliency and redundancy. That was the best way to do it in those days."

But today many corporations are looking to reduce the hardware and ongoing maintenance costs through deploying a virtualisation solution.

The Solution

Using VMware virtual infrastructure technology IMC began the upgrade by replacing the catering division's 380 POS registers with new touchscreen varieties (IBM SurePOS 500) and virtualising the POS back-end server application.

The second step leveraged an existing datacentre IMC had at the stadium. "We already had our datacentre out there and had most of the infrastructure there," Gifford said.

As a result they quickly migrated the existing Microsoft exchange, SQL database, file/print and Web servers to a virtual environment based on VMware.

"Management was pretty open to it right from the beginning but reserved because it was new technology and they hadn't done virtualisation before," Gifford said.

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