Betting on Wi-Fi: Automation

By Shaun Neal, Blog Contributor
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Shadow IT is a common occurrence in the hospitality gaming industry due to lean IT budgets, combined with 24/7 operational hours with demanding technology needs. And when combined with being a highly regulated space, this can often be problematic. Organizations are beginning to embrace network automation as a means to save time on repetitive or common occurrences and a way to reduce human error.
A good example of this in a casino is the slot bank. A slot bank is a group of slot machines sharing one pedestal and a single slot bank is typically on one small form factor Ethernet switch located under that pedestal. These switches tend to get abused due to the constant motion of slot machines being rotated on a floor to drinks being spilled on the pedestal and dripping down into the enclosure, which in turn shortens their life expectancy dramatically. In virtually all cases these switches are replaced by a slot technician and IT may or may not be notified depending on the casino operator.
Aruba's AirWave offers zero touch provisioning, and when combined with ClearPass, becomes a fantastic way to automate network configuration in a secure manner. Leveraging AirWave to provide the original device configuration when plugged into the network enables a slot tech to confidently connect a device with the expectation that it will be configured correctly to be placed on network.
ClearPass offers another layer in which the ports can be both secured and enabled when something is plugged in to it and shut down when not. An open port in a conference room, hotel room, casino floor, etc. is typically not acceptable and some organizations have gone with a low tech approach using jack plugs that are somewhat akin to toddler proofing anti-shock plugs for electrical outlets. These require a special key, which necessitates that someone from IT go remove the plug if the port is to be used. Enabling anyone to plug in anything at anytime and knowing that the connection will be provided the right policy is critical and simply saves time.
In addition to network configuration automation and zero touch provisioning, the push that Aruba is making into AI and structured and unstructured machine learning with IntroSpect and NetInsight is another area in which performance improvement, anomalous behavior, and threat hunting which are additional areas in which IT teams are spending limited cycles.  Investing in these areas will provide teams with a greater ability to focus on supporting the business and become proactive in daily duties.