More Innovation, Less Maintenance

By Darryl K. Taft  |  Posted 2011-01-28 Print this article Print


The Cowboys Stadium IT infrastructure includes the data center with more than 127 Hewlett-Packard blade servers and a 100 terabyte SAN (storage area network) using HP's StorageWorks 8100 Enterprise Virtual Array systems. The team built a high-speed communications network with Cisco Systems equipment that includes WiFi, IP phones and an IP television system that will broadcast content to 3,100 flat-screen Sony televisions throughout the stadium, showing live game footage, advertising and menus at the concession stands. The team also installed more than 300 IP security cameras to safeguard the facility, Haggard said. Meanwhile, for the Super Bowl, Jones is said to be considering adding up to another 1,000 TV monitors throughout the stadium.

Security is taken seriously at the Super Bowl. Indeed, Haggard said there will be up to 2,000 security specialists at the game, including hundreds of FBI and Secret Service agents.

The Cowboys Stadium IT staff is using 212 VMware virtual machines to run the point-of-sale terminals in the concession stands. Another 30 virtual machines are used as file and printer servers for daily operations, he adds. The team also bought 25 HP ProLiant rack servers to run the stadium's video system and IP security cameras.

Meanwhile, Cowboys Stadium boasts enhanced cell phone service as well as WiFi service. The stadium is an AT&T Wireless hotspot and charges users $3.99 for access to the services. In addition, the stadium provides enhanced cellular service for Sprint, Verizon, T-Mobile and Metro PCS users, Haggard said. The stadium has 700 IP phones and more than 700 wireless access points, he said.

As with most things in Texas, the Cowboys Stadium is built big. Yet only two-thirds of the stadium itself is visible from the outside; the rest is underground, Haggard said. The field of the Dallas Cowboys Stadium is 50 feet below ground level. The entire Statue of Liberty and its base could fit inside the stadium with the roof closed, Cowboys officials said.

Haggard said that as opposed to how things worked in the old Cowboys stadium where his staff had to spend 70 percent of its time on maintenance and 30 percent on new technology, in the new stadium the team spends 80 percent of its time on innovation and new technology and only 20 percent on maintenance.

"Our on-site HP consultants are our linemen, our first line of defense," said Pete Walsh, Dallas Cowboys head of technology. "They knew that if they did their part, everybody behind them would have the opportunity to be successful."

And the IT staff continues to improve its setup. With HP Rapid Deployment Packs "we can throw servers up in 13 minutes," Haggard said. And HP VMotion and Insight Dynamics provide constant monitoring and load balancing to keep the systems humming, he added.

Regarding future deployments and directions, Haggard said he is looking at VMware's Site Recovery Manager as well as considering partnering with HP Services to handle some of the IT efforts.


Darryl K. Taft covers the development tools and developer-related issues beat from his office in Baltimore. He has more than 10 years of experience in the business and is always looking for the next scoop. Taft is a member of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) and was named 'one of the most active middleware reporters in the world' by The Middleware Co. He also has his own card in the 'Who's Who in Enterprise Java' deck.

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