Casino rejects the cloud

Casino rejects the cloud

SkyCity opts for HP networking technology as it upgrades gaming and customer services systems.

SkyCity Entertainment Group has bucked an industry trend with its recent upgrade of IT that supports the casino firm's gaming and customer services.

“We’d struggle with the cloud,” says CIO Mike Clarke.

Clarke says this stance is due to issues around regulations, performance and security.

SkyCity operates five casinos and four hotels in New Zealand and Australia. The group has embarked on a growth plan to attract and retain customers by upgrading its gaming services.

To deliver these new services and prepare for future gaming innovations, Skycity needed to upgrade its existing networking infrastructure.

SkyCity selected Hewlett-Packard Converged Infrastructure solutions including HP Networking switches, HP BladeSystem and HP ProLiant servers. Through HP Intelligent Management Center, Skycity is also able to easily monitor and manage the network in its various locations and support its new gaming services.

HP Networking wireless multiservice controllers provide guests with wireless access in every hotel room. For enhanced wireless access coverage, the entertainment group deployed more than 600 HP controllers with additional access points across its hotels.

SkyCity had also looked at options from EMC, IBM and Dell, but chose HP because of an existing working relationship with the vendor, says Clarke.

“We made the storage platform decision first,” he says.

This includes HP Storage solutions. As part of its converged infrastructure, SkyCity purchased HP 3PAR Storage for its properties in Auckland and Adelaide.

The new system has been progressively rolled out since last December, beginning with the Darwin casino. Auckland followed in March, then Adelaide in May. “We’ve just finished Hamilton and Queenstown,” Clarke says.

Given the relative sizes of the casinos – Auckland, for example, is large, and Queenstown small – scalability was important.

The contract is for over five years.

Clarke says the gaming systems were old – up to 12 years old in some cases. “There was a lot of functionality we didn’t have. This is a modern system. It’s all about tailoring it to the customer.”

For example, there is a loyalty programme where customers earn points, Clarke says. He says that up to half of “players” would be members.

A data warehouse, with analytics software from Bally, sits on top of the overall system.

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