10G Ethernet powers glitzy Vegas resort

VoIP, wireless still need to prove themselves to CTO

The US$1.5 billion Venetian resort in Las Vegas is a city within a city.

It boasts 7,000 guest rooms in three towers, a 120,000-square-foot casino, waterways, gondolas, frescoes, a convention center, retail shops, a bank, 18 world-class restaurants, its own police force -- even a TV station.

Throw in 4,000 cameras -- 1,200 for security and surveillance -- wireless hot spots, and back-office operations such as inventory control and purchasing, and it's a tall order for any network to handle. But a 700-switch, 10G Ethernet infrastructure split into 98 virtual LANs is keeping up just fine, according to the resort's IT staff.


See slideshow: The network behind the Venetian resort

The network is running Venetian's entire business -- casino, convention center, retail, multiple restaurants, VoIP and guest services operations, including registration and checkout, cable TV, and wired and wireless Internet access. Despite this heavy lifting, the network is not overly sophisticated -- it's been in place since the resort was constructed 10 years ago and was selected based on its simplified operation and management.

"Our [network] is straightforward, easy to manage and requires minimal support," said Steve Vollmer, vice president of information technology and CTO of Las Vegas Sands Corp. "We estimate [it] helps us save 10 to 15 seconds during guest check-in and checkout, which translates to a savings of nearly 30 hours a day just in one department."

Switch setup

The 10G Ethernet core of the Venetian network is made up of HP ProCurve 8200 and 5400 series switches. Five 8200s are configured in a simple mesh in one of the resort's towers to provide path resiliency and redundancy.

"It will take a full hit anywhere and it just keeps on marching," Vollmer says of the network core.

Four 5400s make up a smaller core in the newest Venetian tower, the Palazzo. The Palazzo alone has 3,000 guest rooms. The core is running at 20 per cent utilization, Vollmer says.

The core switches take in Gigabit Ethernet links from HP ProCurve 4000 switches aggregating 100Mbps Ethernet feeds from ProCurve 3500 switches in the wiring closets. The 3500s, meanwhile, are providing 100Mbps bandwidth to 4,000 slot machines on the casino floor, guest registration systems, point-of-sale systems in restaurants and retail stores, ATMs, digital video signage and cameras, guest rooms, lobby music, VoIP handsets and switches, and virtually everything to do with resort operations.

In all, the converged network supports 65,000 devices -- including 180 virtual servers, 7,000 printers and 14,000 Teleadapt devices in guest rooms that provide wired Ethernet and IEEE 802.11b wireless Internet access.

The 98 VLANs are configured according to application: The front desk windows are all on different VLANs, and there are separate VLANs for VoIP, cameras, signs, Internet access by floor, point-of-sale, cage operations, etc. The network employs IEEE 802.1p and q to provide quality-of-service based on applications and traffic type.

Surveillance and security cameras are physically segmented on their own switched Ethernet network, Vollmer says.

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