The Data Center Powering the Super Bowl

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At 3 million square feet, Cowboy Stadium is the largest domed stadium in the world and host to a mega-sized network of technology.

As 100,000 fans pour into Cowboys Stadium Sunday for Super Bowl XLV, the fans will have little awareness that there’s a data center serving as the technological nerve center of the stadium. But the staff at CDW and HP and the Cowboys’ IT team know how vital the stadium’s IT infrastructure is in creating the “ultimate fan experience.”

“Everything uses technology, the lighting system, the HVAC system, the point-of-sale system,” said
Peter Walsh, the Cowboys’ CIO, in a CDW video about the stadium,

There’s plenty of hardware enabling the communications, operations and sales at Cowboys Stadium, providing the ultimate intersection of football and technology. In addition to the world’s largest HDTV video board, the stadium includes 3,100 networked flat-screen TVs, 884 wireless access points, 655 point-of-sale terminals and 185 IP security cameras, according to a CDW case study.

They like things big in Texas, and that includes infrastructure. The Cowboys have a 100-terabyte storage area network to hold the data supporting the world’s largest domed stadium. The technology throughout the 3 million square-foot facility is connected by 250 miles of fiber optic cable, 6 million feet of copper wiring and 70 wiring closets, CDW said.

Consolidation Leads to Efficiencies

Yet, like smart business people, the team wanted to leverage efficiencies that come with new technology. The  new equipment in the Cowboys’ on-site data center was optimized to reduce space as well as conserve energy and cooling. For example, the team’s old servers that were located at three different sites were retired along with the former stadium. The new consolidated data center now houses 127 new blade servers, CDW reports.

“As a result of centralizing the servers, everything in the stadium now operates on one system and one network,” CDW said. “The new point of sale (POS) system requires that each of the team’s 212 concession stands uses its own server for processing sales. Instead of purchasing 212 individual servers to run each concession stand, the IT team deployed 212 VMware virtual machines on 16 physical blade servers.”

HP’s case study about the project pointed out the business benefits of the new, efficient infrastructure. “By consolidating IT resources on a virtualized, converged HP infrastructure, the Cowboys have lowered their total cost of IT ownership by an estimated $1,000,000 per year,” HP reported. “Now, the Cowboys’ IT team has tools and processes that enable a small staff—now 15—to manage 250 servers and 200 storage disks.” The IT staff, like the team, are there to make for a great experience for the fans.

And the fans can do what they do best – eat, drink, watch football and spend money on gear – all without stopping to think about the IT underpinning the giant stadium infrastructure.

For more details, see CDW and HP case studies. Here are some photos from CDW that provide a look inside the stadium’s data center. For more photos, visit CBS News.

The inside of the Texas Stadium data center, complete with the Cowboy logo emblazoned across the raised floor tiles.

Inside the aisles at the data center supporting the Super Bowl.

CDW Solution Architect Lance Caserotti in fromt of a viewing area that provides a look at some of the data center equipment.

About the Author

Colleen Miller is a journalist and social media specialist. She has more than two decades of writing and editing experience, with her most recent work dedicated to the online space. Colleen covers the data center industry, including topics such as modular, cloud and storage/big data.

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