HP Puts the IT in Dallas Cowboys Stadium

HP's technology powers the data center that drives Cowboys Stadium, the state-of-the-art home of the vaunted Dallas Cowboys football team.

ARLINGTON, Texas -- Though the Dallas Cowboys will not be playing in the Super Bowl this year, the team has a history of winning. And with the help of Hewlett-Packard, that history is extending beyond the football field and has permeated the landmark Dallas Cowboys' Stadium, where this year's Super Bowl will be played.

HP is the system vendor of record providing the servers, storage, management software and services that essentially run the house that Jerry built. Jerry is Jerry Jones, the very hands-on owner of the Cowboys franchise.

Indeed, it was Jones' hands-on, suffer-no-fools nature that prompted his IT staff to select HP as its technology provider. Bill Haggard, director of enterprise infrastructure for the Dallas Cowboys, said the Cowboys selected HP because they needed an IT provider that could ensure scalability to support the biggest events at the 82,000-seat venue, but also the day-to-day work of the Cowboys and the Jones family's more than 35 other business operations.

And HP won out there because "they had the hardware roadmap we wanted to see for the next seven to 10 years," Haggard said. "They were looking at the same chassis footprint over the next five to seven years and they had the willingness to sit down and see what our technology vision was over that time frame. They were more willing to share their thoughts and plans than some of the others out there."

That paid dividends in this case, because, as Haggard said, "You don't want to have to go back to Jerry two years down the road and say what we have is old and no longer works."

That would not be a good move at all, because like his friend George Steinbrenner (now deceased), Jones does not long hold onto things that no longer work. Ask Wade Phillips, who Jones replaced as head coach after a miserable start to the 2010 season. Ask Jimmy Johnson and Barry Switzer, friends of Jones from as far back as his football playing days at the University of Arkansas, but also former Super Bowl-winning Cowboys coaches who had to go because their game plans "no longer worked" for Jones (although Switzer officially resigned).

Yet the HP technology is humming along in the Dallas Cowboys' data center and keeping the massive, ultra-modern structure working at a super-efficient clip.

The $1.2 billion-plus, 3.2-million-square-foot facility here is the largest domed stadium in the National Football League. The centerpieces of the stadium are the Mitsubishi-built video screens facing the sidelines, which are 70 feet tall and 60 yards in length, spanning the field from one 20-yard line to the other. The $40 million JumboTron or video board configuration has 30 million light bulbs and 25,000 square feet of video displays. Meanwhile, two 48-foot wide boards face fans sitting at both ends of the stadium, enhancing their game-day experience.

Haggard's team of 13 IT specialists run the entire Cowboys operation and support not only the stadium and the club, but also the more than 35 other business entities the Jones family owns and operates.