The Straz Center for the Performing Arts opened it's doors to the Tampa Bay community in July of 1987. The organization is dedicated to delivering both world class performances and a world class customer experience. Jason Combs, the Director of Information Services, states that “[their] mission at the Straz Center is to encourage artists and audiences to discover and appreciate the performing arts; [they] do that through the presentation of world class performances in multiple genres such as theatre, dance, and opera, all of which leverage technology.” The Straz Center currently services more than 600,000 guests each year.
The modern performing arts center is fueled by it's technology infrastructure. The wireless network supports the show lighting, stage automation, ticketing systems, streaming media and live video feeds to observation screens around the facility. The network also enables the sale of food and drink at wireless kiosks, and supports the servers and staff at the Straz Center's many hospitality areas. The need for a flawless IT infrastructure grew in importance as more traditional business and operations functions began to run over the network.
An aging network infrastructure threatened not only ongoing operations but future initiatives as well. Upgrading was non-optional, but future proofing within the budgetary restraints of a not-for-profit organization would prove to be a challenge. With it's technology aging rapidly, the Straz Center engaged different solution providers to help them overcome their current situation, and accomplish their future goals. Initial discussions indicated that their technology requirements may have to be compromised in order to bring the project within budget.
Vology's creative solutions and competitive rates allowed the Straz Center to accomplish their technology goals and stay within their budget. Through the support of Vology’s team, the Straz Center was able to replace their entire core infrastructure, without any compromises. Vology's services offerings added a level of comfort to Straz's decision to choose them as their sole provider for the project.
“They didn't just try to sell us their latest and greatest, instead, they focused on what our personal business needs were; It was more of a consulting session, versus a sales pitch. Vology developed multiple options and alternatives to provide the best solution for us." - Jason Combs.
The STRAZ Center's infrastructure requirements for wireless, data and IP Telephony were relatively standard, but their media and video requirements were quite unique. The media and video strategy required a highly available design that could deliver real-time content, with no loss, to any location on the network.
The STRAZ Center was looking for a complete solution delivering a full refresh of the existing network infrastructure. This required replacement of the aging cable plant and professional services to assist in design, configuration development, pre-staging and implementation support.
- Products: Cisco Catalyst 4500-X series switch, Cisco Catalyst 3560-E series switch, Gencom transceivers and patch cables
- Services: Design, pre-configuration, staging and implementation support
- Cable Plant: Replace existing cable plant to support 10 Gigabit
The result was a redundant, highly resilient and high performance design where each Catalyst 3560-E switch is able to load balance across two 10 Gigabit uplinks to the redundant Catalyst 4500-X collapsed core switches. Not only does this design deliver a maximum of 20 Gigabit of bandwidth by making both uplinks active, it also reduces the time it takes to recover from a failure.
The STRAZ Center did not have to compromise on a single requirement and received a network refresh that exceeded their initial requirements.
"Without Vology we would've had to compromise on a lot of the areas for this upgrade. We probably would've had to kick it down to standard 1 gig, and we wouldn't have been able to future proof as much as we wanted to." - Jason Combs
The Straz Center’s new infrastructure has provided a solid foundation for continued operational efficiency. Having a system that they can count on has allowed the organization to focus on their main IT mission; “To support internal and external customers by making sure they have the best technology experience possible”.
“Thanks to Vology”, says Combs, “we are now able to deliver that exact function flawlessly”.