A Bet That’s Beating the Odds

July 13, 2010 - 0 Comments

If you’ve ever flown into Las Vegas, you’ve probably done what millions of others around the world do as their planes float toward the runway – look for the Strip to get your bearings. You see the Luxor’s pyramid, the green MGM Grand, and the gold sheen of Mandalay Bay. For many, The Strip is the city’s central landmark. It’s the nucleus of its economy, one that converted its airport to international status and marketed globally to drive capital in everything from tourism to real estate.

But beyond The Strip, miles away in all directions, there is another thriving gaming economy. And if you don’t notice it – from your plane or from your hotel room on Las Vegas Boulevard – that’s OK. Privacy and obscurity are part of the allure when it comes to “The Other Vegas”. It’s why locals go there – to avoid the tourists and crush of humanity. And it’s why celebrities often do as well – to have the luxury and service without the gawking. One of the posterboys of this economy is StationCasinos, an 18-property chain that extends throughout the city limits. Talk to them, and they’ll tell you that the chain’s value proposition is that it’s not The Strip. Talk to them more, and they’ll tell you why they are a Cisco customer and one of the trailblazers in using technology as a competitive differentiator, which in their eyes separates them even more from the Strip.

Much of its IT strategy is rooted in data center virtualization. Headlined by the Cisco Unified Computing System, Nexus, and MDS storage switches, this data center setup serves as the basis for virtualizing Cisco Unified Communications and IP telephony across their network. It supports the world’s largest deployment of IPICS (for non-emergency organizations), Cisco’s safety and security solution that combines a number of wired, wireless, security, collaboration, and video products. And it is the core of a wired-wireless network infrastructure that features 802.11n, a higher-performing wireless standard that can support greater traffic loads from video to collaborative applications. Slot machines, blackjack tables, and the sports betting all ride over Cisco networks and the applications that manage them are virtualized as a form of “server-based gaming”, giving the chain the ability to seamlessly change games to map to market intelligence 24 hours a day (i.e. customer trends, conferences and attendee demographics, shows and audience demographics, etc. ).

Bryan Miles, IT director at StationCasinos, is one of the visionaries and shepherds of this infrastructure. As he puts it, “in gaming, technology shouldn’t get in the way of our interaction with customers. We need to maintain that personal connection. But it helps us interact with them more intelligently and efficiently, and that’s the role we see technology playing here. Virtualization is so critical for us as a result, and UCS is the platform for it.”

In June I sat down with Bryan and had him describe the role virtualization plays for his company. I told him to freeform for two to three minutes. Check out what he told me here.

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