Network upgrade nears completion for Reef Hotel Casino

Casino ditches aging switches

The end is in sight for a two-year network rollout at Queensland's Reef Hotel Casino, according to IT manager Mark Buck.

"We still have about three switches that we've purchased that we haven't rolled out," Buck said.

The project, which has involved replacing dated HP ProCurve switches with Brocade ICX switches, was prompted by a combination of the need to boost the network's speed and concerns over aging hardware.

"We had the ProCurve 2626s, which were coming on eight years old, and we had some of the 3400s where were about five to six years old," Buck said.

The casino had been hampered by a number of 100-megabit links, he added.

"So a combination of performance issues and aging hardware," Buck said.

The casino runs two networks: A corporate network and a gaming network, which doesn't connect directly to the Internet.

"There's a small port that's open between the two networks and there's also another connection that allows some information to get transferred [from the gaming network] to a staging PC, and then that goes off to an in-cloud based reporting service. Otherwise they're totally separate."

Database applications and file server access account for the bulk of the traffic on the main network, the IT manager said.

"On the gaming network, it's mainly applications and SQL."

Hooked up to the gaming network are three virtualized servers running across three hosts for redundancy. The casino recently implemented an EMC VNXE3200 storage array.

The three severs maintain the jackpot information for the casino's 500 poker machines. The poker machines themselves are run from seven PCs (they use the QCOM protocol to communicate and 16 machines are hooked up to a single fibre connection that goes into the back of a PC).

Although the PCs run the poker machines, they need to check into a server-based application every day to check they are running the correct, government-approved software and to back up jackpot information.

There's also a membership loyalty application running on the servers.

The new network design was carried out in partnership with systems integrator Integrated Solutions. Brocade hardware was chosen based on a combination of price and performance, Buck said.

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