Downtown Grand Hotel and Casino
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“The Avaya network has never let us down. We’ve never had a failure of the live video feed or been unable to retrieve past footage.”
— Charles Robinson, Director of IT
LAS VEGAS HOTEL WINS BIG WITH AVAYA NETWORKING SOLUTIONS
One of the hottest new properties in the revitalized Las Vegas downtown is the Downtown Grand Hotel and Casino. Named “Best Casino” by Casino Player Magazine in 2014, the property boasts 650 luxury rooms and suites, 10 bars and restaurants, live entertainment and the only rooftop pool in Downtown Las Vegas.
Downtown Grand Leads Change in the Casino Industry
Today, the Downtown Grand runs its IP surveillance, point of sale system, property WLAN, IP guest entertainment and casino gaming on one consolidated Avaya network. The network comprises the Avaya Ethernet Routing Switch 8800, 3500 and the 4000 series, the Avaya Identity Engines Portfolio, Avaya Fabric Connect and the Avaya Aura Session Border Controller. But, Robinson had to jump through significant hoops to arrive at this easy-to-manage, redundant virtualized network.
“Las Vegas is not the best place in the world to have open networks for people because they try to access things. For example, attacking your gaming network or trying to steal credit card information,” explains Robinson.
In fact, Las Vegas is such a hostile environment from an IT perspective that the Nevada Gaming Control Board regulates the network architecture of casinos.
“Historically, in gaming everything had to be on separate VLANs. Without explicit approval from the Gaming Control Board, you can’t have surveillance, point of sale, back of house, slot machines, telephony and guest services on the same network,” says Robinson. “But we did just that, because with our secure Avaya solution, all applications are isolated yet run over the same physical infrastructure. There is no breach in connectivity among the separated systems. They all run independent of one another.”
The Downtown Grand was the first casino in the country to be granted approval for and to implement this type of consolidated network. Robinson expects it won’t be the last.
“Now that word has spread, there’s a scramble in Las Vegas to implement this solution,” says Robinson. “I have five casinos coming here in the next three months to see what we’re doing.”
- IT infrastructure suffering stability issues
- Better leverage capabilities of existing infrastructure
The distinction of being the first casino in the US to be granted approval to implement a single gaming network
- Consolidated network for IP video surveillance, point of sale system, and gaming
- Improved guest experience, enhanced security and increased employee productivity
- Scalable network that supports the emerging eSports segment
- Streamlined network management and maintenance
Against the Odds
Shortly before the opening of the Downtown Grand in 2013, personnel changes in the hotel’s IT department left the IT infrastructure in a state of some disarray. When Charles Robinson joined the organization as Director of IT, he needed to stabilize the environment and assess the future of technology at the Downtown Grand.
“When I arrived, following the property’s opening with no true direction for technology in place, I found my fair share of challenges with the environment,” he explains. “But the Avaya network was not one of them. I was presented with an opportunity to build on the Avaya network in a way that was innovative and, frankly, unprecedented for the industry.”
Today, Robinson is at the point where he can take full advantage of the myriad features his Avaya network offers. And the Downtown Grand is reaping the benefits in an improved guest experience, enhanced security and increased employee productivity.
“I came into a situation where I had no documentation on the network and no relationships with the technology vendors,” says Robinson. “So, first I took a look at the vendors who were actually partners, the ones who were helping us work through the confusion. I found that every time I came back to some positive experience, it came back to having Avaya on the property.”
Once Robinson realized that the Avaya network was solid and required little attention, he was freed up to deal with other issues. Those included building a new staff, getting standard operating procedures in place and making sure that the environment was secure as far as hardware was concerned.
“It was a challenge, but the thing that got us through it was the fact that we had a robust Avaya network,” Robinson recalls.
When Robinson was ready to move forward and begin truly leveraging the capabilities of his network, he found a committed and knowledgeable partner in Avaya.
“The team at Avaya recognized that we were learning and that the property was a work in progress when it was opened, and they hung in there with us,” says Robinson. “They sent people to help lay the groundwork for us so that we didn’t cause any damage or shoot ourselves in the foot. The support was fantastic, I got the attention I needed to be able to keep my network going without fear of having minimum network support staff on property.”
"I was presented with an opportunity to build on the Avaya network in a way that was innovative and, frankly, unprecedented for the industry.”
— Charles Robinson, Director of IT
Why the local interest in the Downtown Grand’s consolidated Avaya networking solution? It’s an extremely reliable network that requires minimal management and maintenance. That’s important for the Downtown Grand because, at any given time, Robinson’s staff of five IT professionals is supporting 3,000 guests and 2,000 employees on the network.
“When people visit us to check out our Avaya Solution, they ask, ‘That’s it? Five people for a place this size?’” recounts Robinson. “But it’s because of the reliability of the Avaya network that we can run so streamlined. On a property of this size, you’d normally have at least 10 IT people, but we have a skeleton crew, with over 95-percent guest occupancy, with tons of cloud-based apps, in an environment that is very demanding on the LAN. I credit the Avaya network for enabling that.”
A Full House
Robinson believes the Downtown Grand’s network is one of the fastest in town, evidenced by the ability to support 1,700 guests on its wireless network on a regular basis. Robinson prides himself on how seamless the technology experience is for the hotel’s guests.
“When you look at a typical day at a Las Vegas hotel, you’ll see that it’s a ghost town during the day, but then everyone comes flooding back right around 6 pm,” explains Robinson. “And that’s when everything fires up, with 95-percent occupancy or even higher. We take that kind of hit every single day. We don’t get any calls, no one ever complains about speed or connectivity. It’s seamless.”
The network is centrally managed, all the way down to its 450 ports, half of which are in guest rooms. This means that almost any guest issue can be handled remotely, without having to disturb occupants with a visit to their room.
A Safe Bet
The advantages of the Downtown Grand’s single, consolidated network extend into the realm of security as well. Robinson points to the reliability of the network, the fact that it’s easy to manage, and its redundancy and robustness as boons to the hotel’s security.
“I don’t have lots of switches managing themselves or independent VLANs all over the property, so that’s one less worry just from a physical exposure standpoint,” he says. “And because the entire network is managed under one solution, it’s much easier for us to find issues when they occur. If there’s a security breach, we aren’t looking at five different pieces of software to try to figure out what’s going on, which could give someone a lot more time to do damage.”
The Downtown Grand video surveillance system includes close to 1,000 IP-based cameras running on the Avaya network.
The redundancy of the network plays a major part in helping keep the Downtown Grand secure. “If one of my two switches goes down, the other switch picks up the load,” Robinson explains. “That means no interruption in service. We don’t lose cameras.”
Downtown Grand’s surveillance team can attest to the importance of this. “At any hotel in Las Vegas, instant access to both real-time and historical surveillance data is crucial,” observes Robinson. “The Avaya network has never let us down. We’ve never had a failure of the live video feed or been unable to retrieve past footage on the property.”
Moving forward, Robinson’s goal is clear: “I am trying to make the Downtown Grand a 100-percent Avaya property.”
He is currently in the process of rolling out the new Engagement OnAvaya™ - Google™ Cloud Platform. This solution can be installed very quickly and will meet the immediate contact center needs of the Downtown Grand marketing team.
“The marketing department came to me asking for the ability to start making outbound sales calls right away, and Avaya was able to deliver a flexible and redundant solution within a matter of a few days,” says Robinson.
And soon, Robinson will be moving from a Nortel voice solution to Avaya IP Office to take full advantage of the Avaya Fabric network from a management perspective.
“Moving to IP Office was the next logical step,” says Robinson. “And the Downtown Grand management has been so pleased with the turn around in the IT organization, it was happy to support the move.”
Robinson will also be transitioning to Avaya Wi-Fi and adding Avaya video conferencing solutions to the network.
“We have a fantastic relationship with Avaya,” concludes Robinson, “Avaya is a trusted partner and an integral part of what makes us function and makes us successful.”
- Fabric Connect
- Avaya Aura Session Border Controller
- Avaya Ethernet Routing Switch 8800 Series
- Avaya WLAN 9100
- Avaya Ethernet Routing Switch 4000 Series
- Engagement OnAvaya - Google Cloud Platform
- Avaya Ethernet Routing Switch 3500 Series
- Avaya IP Office
- Avaya Identity Engines
About Downtown Grand Hotel & Casino
Downtown Grand Hotel & Casino is a unique hospitality and entertainment destination in the heart of revitalized downtown Las Vegas. Located on 3rd Street between Ogden and Stewart, Downtown Grand is situated on nearly seven acres that encompasses an entire urban block of hotel, casino and dining amenities. The property features two 18-story and 25-story towers adjoined by a walking bridge elevated over 3rd Street, with 629 guest rooms and suites offering luxury accommodations that set a new standard for sophistication and style in downtown Las Vegas.
Downtown Grand’s casino offerings include 25,000 square feet of gaming space with nearly 500 new slot machines, table games and a fully featured sports book powered by William Hill. Restaurants, bars and entertainment options include Stewart + Ogden, Art Bar, The Commissary, Furnace Bar and The Carson Room. Partnering venues include the award-winning Las Vegas steakhouse Triple George Grill, world famous Hogs & Heifers saloon and Pizza Rock, renowned as one of the best pizza restaurants in the city.
Downtown Grand features a rooftop pool experience with more than 35,000 square feet of entertainment and special event space, an infinity pool, restaurant and bar, semi-private cabanas, a fire pit and a grass seating area.
The Downtown Grand was the first casino in the country to be granted approval for and to implement this type of consolidated network.
Downtown Grand Hotel & Casino is a unique hospitality and entertainment destination in the heart of revitalized downtown Las Vegas. Located on 3rd Street between Ogden and Stewart, Downtown Grand is situated on nearly seven acres that encompasses an entire urban block of hotel, casino and dining amenities. The property features two 18-story and 25-story towers adjoined by a walking bridge elevated over 3rd Street, with 629 guest rooms and suites offering luxury accommodations that set a new standard for sophistication and style in downtown Las Vegas. Downtown Grand’s casino offerings include 25,000 square feet of gaming space with nearly 500 new slot machines, table games and a fully featured sports book powered by William Hill. Restaurants, bars and entertainment options include Stewart + Ogden, Art Bar, The Commissary, Furnace Bar and The Carson Room.