Supporting 82,000 spectators and an extensive conferencing and events offering, the RFU's future-proof network is an enabler for agility and innovation.
Twickenham Stadium is the home of England Rugby. Seating 82,000 spectators on a match day, Twickenham is the largest dedicated rugby union venue in the world.
In 2012 the Rugby Football Union (RFU) undertook a £76 million development plan to create a state-of-the-art, connected stadium to enhance the experience for fans attending on match day. As part of the development plan, the RFU wanted to upgrade the IT infrastructure and future-proof the stadium for new technologies.
By automating the management of Twickenham's 4,000 or so network ports, we removed a time-intensive and mundane workload from the IT team, allowing them to focus instead on extracting maximum value from the network.
Jeremy Stevens, Ideal Account Director
Early in 2014, Ideal engaged with the RFU to design an enhanced IT backbone that would allow fans on match days to access high density Wi-Fi and unlimited web access.
Ideal's lead solution architect had been instrumental in designing the network infrastructure for the 2012 London Olympics. Using this knowledge and experience, Ideal implemented a flexible, scalable, robust and future-proof LAN infrastructure which was deployed while construction and refurbishment work was underway, to allow the RFU to deliver a world-class experience for fans.
This IP network supports:
- RFU corporate services including voice and LAN
- EPOS systems at retail and merchandise points, including the stadium's 31 bars
- Stadium lighting and turnstiles
- Wireless services, including guest and press internet access
- IPTV (700 Samsung digital displays showing content around the stadium)
- CCTV and the RFU security control room.
Ideal's approach was to understand the kind of challenges the RFU faced on match days and optimise existing technology where possible. By engaging constructively and openly, the Ideal and RFU teams were able to review the requirements and iterate the design to ensure that the solution would be flexible, resilient, and ahead of emerging and future requirements.
The solution put forward was based on a core of Cisco Nexus switches, with Cisco Catalyst switches at the access layer. This architecture gave the required flexibility, while its staging and configuration would be completed off-site by Ideal to reduce the workload on the RFU team and accommodate the limited access at the stadium.
A recurring bottleneck had been the need for the stadium IT team to repurpose network ports between hospitality, EPOS or press groups. Identity Based Networking Services (IBNS) was implemented on every Cisco Catalyst switch, allowing end devices to be automatically detected and provisioned for the most appropriate service. Importantly, this ability to repurpose ports did not compromise security or compliance.
A robust support agreement was wrapped around the maintenance of both new and legacy LAN equipment. Ideal's 24x7 service centre would provide high-touch technical support to the RFU team, and Ideal would be onsite on match day as required as an extension of the RFU's IT team, working together to identify and resolve potential issues.
The new infrastructure not only supports the RFU's match day delivery but also its extensive conferencing and events offering. The network that is now in place can meet any challenge allowing the RFU to be agile, and also prepared for new technological advancements and demands with a future-proof enterprise network.
Since the RFU has completed its connected stadium upgrade, Twickenham has been recognised as one of the leading sports stadia in the UK. In 2016 it was awarded Stadium of the Year 2015 at the Stadium Business Awards.
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