This is a guest post by Leader and Top Customer Storyteller Christine Johansen.
On February 13, something around a hundred million people will watch Super Bowl—either for the epic football action, the star-studded halftime show or both.
Much of what fans see when they tune in will be made possible by a behind-the-scenes superstar: SoFi Stadium’s end-to-end Cisco network.
Skarpi Hedinsson is the CTO of SoFi Stadium and Hollywood Park. He joined SoFi Stadium in 2017, just a few months after the groundbreaking ceremony. After holding various technology leadership positions at Disney and ESPN, this was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for him and his team; no one had built a football stadium in LA in over 100 years. Their goal was nothing short of entertainment perfection: they aimed to transform the former Hollywood Park Racetrack into the first "indoor-outdoor" and largest stadium in the NFL--3.1 million square feet designed to attract the top events and stars and allow LA to reclaim its place as the epicenter of entertainment. “The experience needed to be theatrically incredible, which meant the network powering that experience had to be technically incredible,” Hedinsson told the Cisco Newsroom.
“As CTO, I was responsible for helping to deliver Los Angeles Rams Owner/Chairman E. Stanley Kroenke’s vision to create a world-class sports and entertainment destination in the heart of the entertainment capital of the world,” said Hedinsson. “Technology is a large part of helping that vision come true. We needed to ensure that all technology decisions made throughout the building process stayed true to the vision. And come Day One, when the architects and general contractors left, we would be responsible for operating whatever technological infrastructure that was built.”
There are some big challenges behind such a massive network deployment. Hedinsson worked together with Cisco and their partner AmpThink to create an end-to-end Cisco plan for SoFi Stadium. All the core components of the network infrastructure--from the firewalls to the routers to the switching, telephony, and 4K video distribution--every piece is backed by the Cisco logo," he said. “We modernized the design to the absolute, ISP-grade pinnacle—not just the pinnacle for a venue, but for any dense technology situation, whether it be a data center or a laboratory. That’s the opportunity we saw with Cisco, and that’s what we did. We dramatically upgraded the capabilities of the network. We hyperconverged storage and the compute block, which had never been done in a building like this; it allowed us to take 80 or 90 physical servers out of the design—things that were slated to run everything from access control systems to lighting control systems. We virtualized all of that. So today we have 120 virtual machines that run every single operational technology application in the building as well as a few enterprise technology applications. At the same time, we dramatically upgraded the manageability and the security envelope of our network. What this all translates to is we have time to pay attention to the things that we should be paying attention to: customer experiences.”
Here are some things to look out for when you watch the Super Bowl at SoFi Stadium:
- Cashless. Every fan you see in the stands came in with a mobile-format ticket. And all purchases are cashless. The Cisco network needs to be up and running efficiently all the time so guests can make purchases.
- 100 percent digital signage. SoFi Stadium is home to two teams, but you won’t see any permanent team branding in the building. Not a single permanent team sign. The building is 100 percent digital. This commitment to digital signage means SoFi can push whatever content they choose, whenever, to more than 2,600 4K displays located in the concourses, concession stands, suites, and everywhere in between, including the massive Infinity Screen at the heart of the stadium.
- Really instant, instant replays. The Cisco network carries a lot of information, fast—so replays are lightning quick.
Suffice it to say that on Super Bowl Sunday, there will be a lot of star power on the field and on the halftime stage. It will also be a time for the end-to-end Cisco network that powers SoFi Stadium to shine.