The first newly built casino on the Las Vegas Strip in a decade features all of the bells and whistles visitors have come to expect from a luxury property. To monitor this state-of-the-art property requires a highly sophisticated network of surveillance cameras and a modern infrastructure to support it.
Building a Future-Proof Digital Surveillance System
As the first integrated resort to be built on the Las Vegas Strip in over a decade, the new $4.3 billion Resorts World Las Vegas is situated on nearly 88 acres and features more than 3,500 luxury guest rooms and suites, a next-generation 117,000 square foot casino, and a quarter million square feet of meeting and banquet space. However, what really sets Resorts World Las Vegas apart is its commitment to leading-edge technology – from massive LED displays and an AI-based digital concierge service to RFID-embedded chips. Resorts World Las Vegas has upped the ante and is defining a new standard for what a modern casino should look like.
But the guests at Resorts World Las Vegas are seeing only one aspect of this technological wonder. William Adams, Lead Surveillance Technician for Resorts World Las Vegas, is one of the IT practitioners tasked with designing and building a flexible and responsive backend infrastructure to ensure these innovations remain fully operational. As the lead surveillance technician, Adams manages a small team of four who together are responsible for building out, deploying, and managing the infrastructure to support the entire property’s surveillance and security capabilities.
Managing the IT compute and storage infrastructure to support a broad network of surveillance cameras for a sprawling complex is a tall order in its own right. Doing this for a casino where large amounts of money are being exchanged every hour comes with its own particular operational and regulatory challenges. Casino operators demand complete and continuous visibility across their property - from the gaming pits where chips are being counted and exchanged for cash to monitoring every nook of their public space to ensure the safety of their guests and employees.
As Adams explains, “Nevada’s Gaming Control Board guidelines mandate that wherever money is being handled, we need to have active surveillance coverage and ensure that the cameras are looking at the right thing. On top of that, we are also responsible for watching over the non-gaming areas as well – but because these cameras are primarily used for guest safety, they have different retention and resolution requirements.”
In this type of environment, downtime simply isn’t an option. As a result, Adams and his team must be able to quickly respond to an outage. “If we can’t get a camera back online within a certain time frame, we have to shut down the entire area which can mean losing revenue. It’s imperative that we have a flexible and responsive infrastructure. The ability to rapidly and automatically spin up a recorder virtual machine on another clustered node, if one were to go down is a game changer, as we can ensure that in the event of a failure, the system automatically fails over and any potential downtime is minimized.”
One of the most ambitious projects to be undertaken on the Las Vegas Strip in over a decade, Resorts World Las Vegas is a massive complex spanning more than 117,000 square feet of gaming space and three separate hotel brands.
- Cost-effectively support thousands of networked surveillance cameras with small staff
- Ensure video recording and management servers remain online and operational with minimal downtime
- Ensure data is not just being stored but also that previously recorded data is available at all times
- Comply with strict gaming and regulatory requirements
- Fully test and deploy surveillance system in a compressed six-month schedule with on-going testing as required
THE SCALE COMPUTING SOLUTION
- HC3 software can be deployed quickly and is easy to manage
- Self-healing, intelligent automation enables IT and security surveillance teams to spend less time on menial tasks
- Integrate with Milestone XProtect VMS and other third-party operational technologies
- Support advanced video storage and analytics capabilities
- Modular cluster architecture provides instant scalability
- Instantly scalable: 4,700 digital cameras are currently supported across eight Scale Computing clusters with plans to scale out to up to 14,000 cameras once the property is complete
- Plug-and-play deployment: Pre-configured and standardized builds of infrastructure components enables accelerated deployment as new cameras are brought online
- Seamless redundancy: Automated failover of clusters ensures downtime is minimized as there is no single point of failure
- Streamlined virtualization: Simple, fast and cost-effective virtualized environments that can be set up in seconds compared with VMware
A Modern Casino Demands an Intelligent Infrastructure for Video Surveillance and Security
Adams joined Resorts World Las Vegas in January of 2021, six months ahead of a much-anticipated scheduled opening in June. However, they had to wait until construction was almost finished before they could begin installing and connecting the initial lot of 4,700 cameras that were part of the first phase of the project rollout. With the construction wrapped by early June, Adams and his team had a few weeks to get everything operational before the Gaming Control Board would inspect and certify their surveillance system – without this certification, they wouldn’t be able to open. The fact that his team didn’t have to spend hours every day manually configuring each cluster meant they could focus their energy on more strategic priorities. Given the scale of this hardware deployment, Scale Computing even worked with integration partners to allow delivery of fully racked and cabled systems ready for easy integration into the datacenter environment.
But keeping this growing network of digital cameras online and operational is merely one aspect of what this infrastructure must support. The video security and surveillance infrastructure must also be able to seamlessly integrate with a host of third-party software solutions such as their Milestone XProtect Recording Servers, most of which run in their own VM and are distributed across nodes on multiple HC3 clusters. This infrastructure must also be able to be integrated with other core Operational Technologies (OT) such as access control systems and alarm systems – all of which must be connected to each other on a continuous basis to be operational.
Moreover, not every camera in their surveillance network records at the same resolution or retains footage for the same length of time. As Adams explains, “for our table games, we need to record at a higher resolution and frame rate so that observers can discern details like the suit of a card and the chip colors to confirm that payouts are correctly recorded, whereas other areas of the property might not require the same high-resolution footage. Retention requirements also vary depending on the area of the property we are monitoring. For instance, we typically retain footage from cameras monitoring the ATMs and high cash out slot machines for as long as 45 days. So, it’s really important that our infrastructure can handle these diverse capabilities and requirements.”
Although Adams didn’t have any previous experience with Scale Computing, he was quickly impressed by the intelligence embedded within the platform. As he recounts, “the automation and AI capabilities that Scale Computing provides are lightyears beyond those of VMware and Windows in terms of the ease of configuration and maintenance. Moreover, the learning curve is far easier than other systems which means we can get everyone on the team up to speed and keep them on the same page.”
Building virtual machines at my old property was a process that might take between 10 to 30 minutes per instance. With Scale Computing it takes just 20 seconds - a vast improvement especially when downtime is not an option.
Building an IT Foundation for the Innovations of Tomorrow
The intelligence and self-healing capabilities of Scale Computing’s HC3 Platform has also meant that Adams and his small team can spend less time grinding away on manual tasks such as break/fix emergencies and hardware maintenance and more time focused on strategic initiatives, which is all the more critical given the team’s limited headcount and the many competing demands placed on them on a daily basis.
In his previous life as a surveillance technician at another mega-casino on the Las Vegas strip, Adams remembers the challenge and expense of managing his VMware environment, “building VMs at my former property was a process that could take anywhere from 10 to 30 minutes per instance – multiply that by dozens of virtual machines and it really takes a toll on productivity. With Scale Computing, once we create a ‘golden image’ of what the machine should look like it simply becomes a matter of copying and pasting that image and the entire process takes less than 30 seconds. The fact that Scale Computing does a lot of the backend setup and configuration beforehand means that it’s just a matter of spinning up the VMs on our end and we’re operational.”
As with any new system, there’s always a learning curve to account for - especially for technicians whose experience has been focused on surveillance systems. “Because the Scale Computing platform is so automated, there really isn’t all that much to teach our staff. We were able to get everyone on the team certified on Scale Computing in a single morning. It was also really helpful that the team at Scale Computing built a training platform that mirrored our actual production environment so when we had questions, the sales engineer could provide answers specific to how our particular environment is set up.”
While the team hasn’t had an opportunity to conduct a full ROI analysis at this point, Adams anticipates that their team will save a significant amount of capital just by avoiding VMware’s annual licensing fees which can easily run into five figures on an annual basis. Beyond surveillance and security, Adams also anticipates that they will introduce a number of experiential enhancements that leverage their digital surveillance network: “Once our network is fully deployed, we’ll be able to do things like use our digital surveillance cameras for a wide range of video analytics such as facial detection and heat mapping to identify high traffic areas which can be used to improve the guest experience.”
ABOUT SCALE COMPUTING
Scale Computing is a leader in edge computing, virtualization, and hyperconverged solutions worldwide. Scale Computing HC3® software uses self-healing and automation to maximise application uptime and performance, simplify management, and protect data. When ease of use, high availability, and total cost of ownership matters, Scale Computing HC3 is the ideal IT infrastructure platform for distributed enterprises, global retailers, and SMBs alike. Scale Computing is highly rated and highly reviewed on Gartner Peer Insights, Spiceworks, TechValidate and TrustRadius.