Circa Resort and Casino standardizes on Aruba to deliver transcendent guest experiences

Circa Resort and Casino standardizes on Aruba to deliver transcendent guest experiences

Circa Resort and Casino has deployed a secure Aruba ESP-based network at its new 1.25 million-square-foot downtown Las Vegas hotel.

Paul Ballard, CIO at Circa

Aruba, a Hewlett Packard Enterprise company, has announced that Circa Resort and Casino, the first new downtown Las Vegas hotel and entertainment venue in over 40 years, has selected an end-to-end Aruba ESP-based network to deliver unique, immersive and engaging experiences at the 35-story, 777-room sports-themed property, as well as to satellite locations throughout Nevada, Colorado, and other jurisdictions, while saving nearly half a million dollars.

To create an energetic and transcendent atmosphere that draws on the original spirit of Las Vegas and updated for the digital age, Circa is using a combination of Aruba’s wired, wireless and security solutions to provide the performance and bandwidth required to power its unique amenities. This includes the Stadium Swim, a pool deck with amphitheater-style lounging terraces facing a 143-foot video display, and a three-story Sportsbook, featuring a 78 million pixel video display divided into 42 screens with a 1,000-person viewing capacity.

In collaboration with trusted integration partner Evotek, Circa evaluated prominent networking competitors, as well as Aruba, to gain an intelligent, reliable and flexible network. Ultimately, Aruba offered the most comprehensive, automated solution for helping Circa bring its hospitality vision to life.

“Delivering today’s socially driven premier entertainment experiences in Las Vegas is a 24/7 endeavor,” said Paul Ballard, CIO at Circa. “Aruba supplied the full stack of AI-enabled wired and wireless networking innovations essential for running a successful operation.”

Working with Evotek, Circa deployed a future-ready wireless network comprised of Aruba’s Wi-Fi 6 indoor access points (APs), outdoor APs, hospitality APs and mobility controllers. For wired networking, Circa implemented Aruba’s aggregation switches at the Edge and CX Series switches in the data center.

Beyond enabling on-site multicasting, Circa is providing modern in-room experiences such as connected lighting and IP TVs.

“Deploying Aruba’s wireless to guest rooms not only addresses user expectations, it also saved us nearly US$500,000 versus installing a gigabyte passive optical network (GPON),” said Ballard. “Aruba’s licensing model was also significantly more attractive.”

To unify and streamline wired and wireless administration, Circa adopted AirWave for network management along with ClearPass for network access control (NAC) and policy management. The company also implemented User Experience Insight (UXI) for Wi-Fi incident detection using AIOps to pinpoint issues that require immediate attention.

“In addition to supporting unparalleled guest experiences, digital employee solutions, and IoT-enabled building maintenance systems, we supply network connectivity to thousands of third-party vendors,” said John Palma, Manager of Information Technology Network Engineering at Circa.

“Whether it’s mobile POS in our dining areas or digital gaming systems in our casino spaces, Aruba ensures we have the ability to apply consistent policies and granular security to visualize, automate and control who accesses our network.”

Circa’s new network also supports digital experiences in the resort’s Garage Mahal transportation hub. The facility includes purpose-built solutions for hosting ride-sharing providers and will eventually serve as the downtown terminal for the Boring Company’s Vegas Loop project seeking to outfit Las Vegas with high-speed transportation tunnels.

“With our Aruba network, we can provide Wi-Fi to our guests and to transportation providers in Garage Mahal, as well as deploy the latest in security solutions and connected elevators to help keep everyone safe in transit,” Palma said.

According to Ballard, another considerable benefit of partnering with Aruba is superior technical support.

“The challenges of opening a new property during a pandemic can’t be understated,” he said. “No matter what time of day or night, Aruba provided us the right level of support resources for resolving issues quickly, which helped us stay on track to meet our opening day timeline.”

Moving forward, Circa will continue evaluating Aruba solutions that include AIOps, data-driven analytics, and other innovations.

“Overall, our Aruba partnership gives us the flexibility to quickly take advantage of new business opportunities,” said Ballard. “This helps us distinguish ourselves from others in Las Vegas, which is a significant competitive advantage.”

We asked Paul Ballard, CIO at Circa, further questions about the project.

How has Aruba allowed you to exceed customer expectations?

Our Aruba-based network is the backbone for all of our customer experiences, from the gaming floor itself to our multi-million pixel displays at Stadium Swim and Circa Sports.  We also use our network for audio throughout the casino as well as programmable exterior lighting displays. Everything runs on the Aruba backbone.

What has impressed you most about the capabilities of AirWave and ClearPass?

The ability to manage access via user and device profiles made deployment during the construction of Circa significantly less error-prone and tedious.  We also used Terminal Access Controller Access-Control System (TACACS) to secure access to our network devices and provide audit features that were incredibly important during the construction phases when we had multiple vendors all working on the network at the same time. 

ClearPass is used to authenticate both internal users via Extensible Authentication Protocol (EAP) connection to Active Directory and also a captive portal for public and hotel guest access.  The combination of these two products provided a fairly seamless model for managing all network access. 

How effective has User Experience Insight (UXI) been for pinpointing issues that require immediate attention?

We have used the Aruba User Experience Insight (UXI) sensors to help monitor network performance, but I’d say we’re still in the early stages of this.   

How confident are you in the security features offered by the solutions?

We’re confident in the security features not as a standalone solution, but in conjunction with the other security products and features we implement to protect our network and data.  Providing a seamless access model helps tremendously in the day-to-day management of the network. 

What was the best aspect of the support provided to you by Aruba?

The best aspect of support was the quick escalation provided when we had issues with our AV network.  Our reps brought in the Aruba Customer Engineering team and we got direct access to the software development team to help identify and fix the issue resulting in a firmware fix.  We were never left feeling like we were on our own dealing with issues after the implementation was complete. 

Why did you choose Aruba as your provider?

The choice was based on the combination of price point and features.  We went with Aruba based on the integration of the Wi-Fi network with the wired network and consolidation of management tools.

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