Casinos placing big data bets must go all in on network infrastructure

No need to gamble on data in the casino when operators can ante up their network gear.

By Max Burkhalter
August 13, 2015
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A quick peek at the casino industry's cards reveals why economic growth on the Las Vegas Strip has slowed over the past few years. A decline in disposable income, a direct result of the economic crisis that lingered over the U.S. until the late 2000s, was a major contributor to Sin City's revenues, according to Forbes. Additionally, Nevada is no longer the only state with legalized casinos and faces increased competition from casino growth in other parts of the country, like Pennsylvania.

"Massive amounts of data are generated in a casino."

Subsequent fallout of these trends include limited interest in casino operators to develop new attractions for the Strip and greater motivation to reduce operating costs and enhance customer experiences. With the house keeping a closer eye on its pot than ever before, it's no surprise that more and more casinos are turning to big data as a means of coping with the evolution of the industry. Successfully transferring and managing the massive amounts of data generated in a casino, however, requires IT teams on the Strip to perform comprehensive updates of the network.

Gaming regulations present unique challenges for casino IT
Every industry is subject to certain regulations. When it comes to transactions of funds and secure information nobody likes to gamble. The casino industry is one of the most regulated businesses in the country, according to Computerworld. As a result, casino IT professionals are under extra pressure to ensure that data center operations are run reliably and securely, lest the casino come under fire from state authorities. For example, CIO pointed out that these regulations have made it difficult for casinos to transfer their network to the cloud. In addition to limiting plot options for heist movies set in Las Vegas, restrictions barring casino operations from occurring off of the casino's property make rapid adoption of the public cloud across the Strip unlikely.

As a result, casinos must meet the challenges of an increasingly competitive travel and entertainment market with streamlined, automated infrastructure implemented onsite. In addition to meeting requirements set by local gambling laws, casino IT is flush with all the regular challenges of a regular data center. High availability, for example, is an absolute necessity given that casinos remain open 24 hours a day. As a result, careful investments in high-performance network gear with robust security features is critical for casino data center operators.

Rolling the dice with data security is risky business.Rolling the dice with data security is risky business.

Ambitious analytics projects require expanded infrastructure
Casino Journal pointed out that big data analytics presents significant advantages for casinos that can take advantage. Unstructured data guest surveys and call logs, for example, can be crunched and computed into important operational insights. Similarly, patterns deciphered in social media can be used to plan new marketing campaigns. Even casino lighting and entertainment systems can be connected to the network, and operated more efficiently, if the right infrastructure is put into place. At the end of the day, the type of technology implemented will depend heavily on casino IT's end goal.

For example, if casino data center operators are looking to automate the collection of information from the facility's slot machines, they'll need the right gear to network these pieces of equipment together. Once equipment is routed through a central serial terminal server via an Ethernet connection, virtualization of slot operations become considerably easier. An upgrade like this could help to reduce operational costs by consolidating servers and reducing instances of unplanned downtime. With the odds of coming out ahead stacked in their favor, updated network gear seems like a cool wager for members of the casino industry.

Perle's serial to Ethernet converters connect serial based equipment across an Ethernet network. The Perle IOLAN range of Console Servers, Device Servers and Terminal Servers feature built-in support for IPv6 along with a broad range of authentication methods and encryption technologies.


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