During a first visit to the data centre of a Las Vegas casino, one might expect to see an Ocean's Eleven-type environment - corridors lit up with glowing, mysterious lights and hushed, gleaming spaces stuffed with sophisticated sensors detecting an increasing pulse rate.
Without question, there must be a pressurised dual door system with ultra high-tech vapor locks and man traps watched over by guys wearing sun glasses and displaying a hint of menace.
But in the case of the Sands Corp., visitors get the unexpected perspective of Steve Vollmer, CTO and VP of IT, an affable, engaging guy who is quick to dash down images of movie-inspired Vegas glitz in his IT operation.
It's just "another data centre," Vollmer said as we stepped through a relatively ordinary metal door of the data centre running The Venetian resort and casino owned by Sands. The data centre is one of two housed at the Sands complex.
The Venetian operation, probably indistinguishable from any data centre at a similar size company, can act either as a primary or secondary facility in the event of a failover. There are rows of servers on a raised floor and one hears the vacuum cleaner-type noise created by air handling systems that is pervasive in any data center.
This Venetian IT facility may follow a standard issue corporate model, but what's done here isn't ordinary. Part of the business is, of course, gambling. Thus the questions about how the data centre interacts with slot machines during a press tour organised by Hewlett-Packard during its big IT conference here his week were not surprising.
Like many businesses, Sands is moving its worldwide operations to IP for everything connected to a network, telephones, televisions and even slots. A new Sands facility will be completely IP-based.
What's the advantage to having slots on IP?
It's the speed of transaction, said Vollmer, and there are potentially a lot of transactions. Every action on a slot machine is recorded, producing a small amount of data that is sent to the server. "We know exactly what's in that slot machine right now," Vollmer said.
Sands Corp. CIO Steve Vollmer shows off the Venetian Casino's data centre.
Image credit: o palsson on Flickr republished under the Creative Commons Licence 2.0