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Customer Success Story – Straz Center for the Performing Arts


About The Straz Center for the Performing Arts

The Straz Center for the Performing Arts opened their doors to the Tampa Bay community in July 1987. The organization is dedicated to delivering both world-class performances and customer experiences. Jason Combs, the Director of Information Services, states that “[their] mission at the Straz Center is to encourage artists and audiences to discover and appreciate the performing arts; [they] do that through the presentation of world-class performances in multiple genres such as theatre, dance and opera.” The Straz Center currently services more than 600,000 guests each year.

The Problem

The Straz Center for the Performing Arts is fueled by their technology infrastructure. The wireless network supports lighting, stage automation, ticketing systems, streaming media and live video feeds to observation screens around the facility. The network also enables the sale of food and drink at wireless kiosks and supports the servers and staff at the modern performing arts center’s many hospitality areas. The need for a flawless IT infrastructure grew in importance as more traditional business and operations functions began to run over the network.

An aging network infrastructure threatened not only ongoing operations but future initiatives as well. Upgrading was a necessity, but future-proofing within the budgetary restraints of a not-for-profit organization would prove to be a challenge. With their technology aging rapidly, the performing arts center engaged different Managed IT Services Providers (MSPs) to help them overcome their current situation and accomplish their future goals. Initial discussions indicated their technology requirements may have to be compromised to bring the project within budget.

The Solution

Vology’s creative solutions and competitive rates allowed the Straz Center for the Performing Arts to accomplish their technology goals and stay within budget. Through the support of Vology’s team, the Straz Center was able to replace their entire core infrastructure without any compromises. Vology’s services offerings added a level of comfort to Straz’s decision to choose them as the sole provider for the project.

“They didn’t just try to sell us their latest and greatest,” says Combs. “Instead, they focused on what our personal business needs were. It was more of a consulting session versus a sales pitch. Vology developed multiple options and alternatives to provide the best solution for us.”

The Straz Center’s infrastructure requirements for wireless, data and IP telephony were relatively standard, but their media and video requirements were quite unique. The media and video strategy required a highly available design that could deliver real-time content, with no loss, to any location on the network.

The Straz Center was looking for a complete solution delivering a full refresh of the existing network infrastructure. This required replacement of the aging cable plant and professional services to assist in design, configuration development, pre-staging and implementation support.

The result was a redundant, highly resilient and high performance design where each Catalyst 3560-E switch is able to load balance across two 10 Gigabit uplinks to the redundant Catalyst 4500-X collapsed core switches. Not only does this design deliver a maximum of 20 Gigabit of bandwidth by making both uplinks active, it also reduces the time it takes to recover from a failure.

The Impact

The Straz Center did not have to compromise on a single requirement and received a network refresh that exceeded initial requirements.

“Without Vology, we would’ve had to compromise on a lot of the areas for this upgrade. We probably would’ve had to kick it down to standard 1 gig, and we wouldn’t have been able to future-proof as much as we wanted to.”

The Straz Center’s new infrastructure has provided a solid foundation for continued operational efficiency. Having a system that they can count on has allowed the organization to focus on their main IT mission: “To support internal and external customers by making sure they have the best technology experience possible.”

“Thanks to Vology, we are now able to deliver that exact function flawlessly.”