Optical LAN Positions Indian Head Casino at Forefront of Technology

by | Nov 26, 2018 | Case Study

Tellabs and ITConnect establish Warm Springs Tribes as regional IT technology leaders with their Passive Optical LAN at their contemporary Indian Head Casino and Plateau Travel Plaza facilities.
Confederate Tribes of Warm Springs owns and operates two community assets – Indian Head Casino and the Plateau Travel Plaza. These pristine facilities have been thoughtfully designed and developed by the Warm Springs tribes to offer vital amenities for those who live, work, travel and vacation in sunny Central Oregon.
Indian Head Casino is a modern 40,000-square foot building housing 500 slot machines, blackjack tables and a top-notch restaurant. The building also contains a food bar and a retail store. The exterior of the casino is meant to resemble the historic fishing scaffolds at Celilo Falls, integral to the culture of the Warm Springs tribes. The casino is situated across Highway 26 from the Museum at Warm Springs, allowing visitors to immerse themselves in the rich local history and culture of the Jefferson County.
The contemporary Plateau Travel Plaza is located right off Highway 26 in the city of Madras, Oregon. It includes parking for up to 70 trucks, laundry facilities, full-service and self-serve fueling, a 3,000-square foot convenience store stocked with favorite items, home style seated dining and takeout food. It too offers 30 slot gaming machines at the indoor casino. Plateau Travel Plaza is the newest and largest truck and travel facility within 120 miles.
What Indian Head Casino and Plateau Travel Plaza share is a next-generation fiber-based network infrastructure, called Passive Optical LAN. This modern network design was the result of collaboration between ITConnect, premier network integrator; Tellabs, global network equipment provider; and the local Indian Head Casino IT staff charged with the responsibility to plan, design, build and operate these two contemporary networks.
The Indian Head Casino IT staff researched the differences between traditional switch-based copper LAN and the more progressive Tellabs Optical LAN, or OLAN, and confidently moved forward with OLAN based on these four (4) unique differentiators:
    • Smaller footprint in the main data center, telecom closets and cabling pathways
    • Better security with a reduction in points of network vulnerability
    • Improved reliability with equipment redundancy and fiber route diversity
    • Ease of operations due to OLAN’s centralized intelligence and management
Smaller footprint in the main data center, telecom closets and cabling pathways
Both Indian Head Casino and Plateau Travel Plaza had limited space available inside their buildings.
The traditional switch-based copper LAN design consisted of multiple racks of equipment in the main data center room, stacks of switches in the telecommunications closets and a tangled mess of cabling in the vertical and horizontal pathways. All of those switches consumed resources for provisioning, maintenance, troubleshooting, warranty support and powering – plus the switches occupied precious real estate that could be put to better use. The copper cabling is bigger, heavier, bandwidth constrained, shorter reach, less secure and more expensive that fiber cabling. “We have some long distances to deal with. Pulling copper cable all the way back to the main data room would have been difficult or impossible in some cases. Working with the fiber cabling was much easier and cleaned up everything,” said Justin T. Hendrickson, Surveillance Technician at Warm Springs Tribal Gaming and Regulation Authority (formerly Network Administrator at Indian Head Casino).
With the Tellabs Optical LAN design, Indian Head Casino and Plateau Travel Plaza fit their main data center room equipment in less than one rack with room for growth. One rack housed a small compact switch for wide area network connectivity and firewall security, 6-inch high Tellabs 1134AC Optical Line Terminal (OLT), powering equipment and fiber management. “With the OLAN design, we were able to reduce the number of switches, our team managed, by 60 to 70%, which was big help for us,” said James Welden, Systems Administrator at Indian Head Casino. From there single mode fiber cabling, which is smaller, lighter, stronger, better bend radius, higher bandwidth capacity, longer reach, longer life, more secure and less expensive than copper cabling, connected the passive optical splitters for distribution and aggregation purposes across the properties. “Compared to the traditional LAN design, we reduced the amount of copper cabling by 80%,” said Welden.
Better security with a reduction in points of network vulnerability

Security is a top priority for Indian Head Casino and Plateau Travel Plaza, not only for their business operations, but for their customer more importantly. “We saw that the US Federal Government has been deploying Passive Optical LAN for years for better network security and reliability, so we knew with was the best network for our needs,” said Welden.

For the traditional switch-based copper LAN design, all those switches, cabling and management access points represent points of network vulnerability for security breaches. It’s not just the high number of full-functioning points of access at all the switches, but the equally large number of technicians needed to support that network and its daily moves, adds, changes and troubleshooting. It is often the case that the network technicians can be responsible for malicious, or just unintentional negligent actives, that hurt network security and reliability.

With this simplified Optical LAN design, Indian Head Casino IT staff has reduced the points of network vulnerability by lowering the number of network management access. “The OLAN design only requires one connection into our security appliance and that makes for a more secure and easy management,” said Hendrickson. In fact, only the OLT is locked in the main data room, has a single IP address, and houses all network intelligence which is administered by the Tellabs Panorama PON Manager. “The Tellabs Panorama PON Manager really makes managing our secure VLANs and security profiles simple,” said Welden. The Optical Network Terminals (ONT), which provide the Ethernet connectivity to end-users and end-devices, store no network data, no user information and have no management interface.


Improved reliability with redundancy at the main data center equipment and fiber route diversity

Vital data is transmitted 24/7/365 across the networks at the Indian Head Casino and Plateau Travel Plaza, in support of gambling and security activities. Therefore, high network availability is imperative. “We operate a very sophisticated end-to-end network. We find ourselves constantly educating the tribe leaders, other vendors and the community about all the critical infrastructure we support,” said Hendrickson.

Traditional switch-based copper LAN architecture can be plagued by network down time because of its “best-effort” nature. These networks commonly experience more than 5-hours averaged outages per year. To make legacy switch-based copper LANs more reliable you must double the number of ports, cards, switches and cabling to achieve best reliability with a fully meshed network. The problem with this fully meshed network is that it adds more points of failure, security vulnerabilities, additional management and unwarranted network complexity – all of which can cause the network outages they’re trying to eliminate. “The cost of maintaining a traditional network was too much. We need a network design that would keep up with the future,” said Welden.

Passive Optical Network’s roots can be traced back to the telecommunication service providers “carrier-class” fiber to the home network, which for decades has transmitted lifeline voice and emergency 911 calls. At both Indian Head Casino and Plateau Travel Plaza, redundant Tellabs 1134 OLTs where installed and fiber route redundancy was provided down to the passive optical splitters. This was accomplished with ITU G.984 Type-B PON redundancy standard and ultimately can improve the measured average annual network downtime to 30-seconds. “We’ve been operating this Optical LAN since 2015, so now we’re starting to promote our Passive Optical LAN system to other tribes because of our good experience with its better reliability and security,” said Welden.


Ease of operations due to OLAN’s centralized intelligence and managements

The IT staff for Indian Head Casino is a small resourceful team. That is, they tackle many diverse IT challenges and need to be highly efficient in their daily activities. “Managing and troubleshooting the old-style or legacy networks was a nightmare and not user friendly at all,” said Welden. “We’ve experienced with our new OLAN that it has been less complicated to manage a whole IP network with a few IP addresses versus the many IP addresses we managed with our former legacy switched network,” said Welden.

All those switches, and distributed management access, associated with the traditional switch-based copper LAN design, made daily operations a nightmare. The expectation that IT staff had to run around, and connect to each and every switch’s communications ports, to do provisioning, maintenance, moves, adds, changes and troubleshooting of the end-to-end network was painful – and, as discussed earlier, potentially negatively impacted network security and reliability.

Passive Optical LAN enjoys centralized intelligence and management better matching how modern cloud, wireless and software defined network architectures. “The learning curve for our staff and the Optical LAN and Panorama PON Manager, was real fast. The support we’ve received from Tellabs and ITConnect has been great too,” said Welden. From one screen, the Tellabs Panorama PON Manager orchestrates and controls network operations. For OLAN, this is where all provisioning, maintenance, moves, adds, changes and troubleshooting is executed in software using global profiles. These software-based global profiles ensure consistent error-free policies and procedures are administered for the all users, ONTs, connected and powered network devices (e.g. Wi-Fi Wireless Access Points, IP Surveillance Cameras, Digital Signage, etc…) and the network services (e.g. voice, video, data, etc…) that are transmitted across the system. “With OLAN, once you have the global profiles made in the Panorama PON Manager, you’re good to go, for future moves, adds and changes,” said Hendrickson.


Smaller footprint, better security, improved reliability and ease of operations

Since 2015, Tellabs and ITConnect have helped Warm Springs Tribes achieve their goal of being a regional IT technology leader with this Passive Optical LAN installation at Indian Head Casino and Plateau Travel Plaza. Its small form-factor, simplified design, better security, improved reliability and ease of operations has delivered many advantages for the local IT staff. Better yet, this optical network keeps this very capable IT staff, Warm Springs Tribes, Indian Head Casino, Plateau Travel Plaza, and the Central Oregon community they serve, at the forefront of technology today and into the future.



About Warm Springs Tribes

Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs is a nation where the sun shines most every day, and time turns to the pace of a culture thousands of years in the making. It is the land of the Warm Springs, Wasco and Paiute Native American Tribes, stretching from the snowcapped summit of the Cascade Mountains to the palisaded cliffs of the Deschutes River in Central Oregon. We invite you to visit Warm Springs. We invite you to escape to another nation.


About ITConnect

ITConnect designs and deploys infrastructure configurations for all types of businesses, from start-ups to legacy migrations, offering business stability and management ease. ITConnect provides its data customers with the strategies, solutions, technologies and services that can help to maximize the network availability mandated by real-time networking and the operational costs containment or reduction that can result. ITConnect holds all the qualifications necessary for casino gaming and casino surveillance plan, design and build activities. ITConnect has extended years of experience integrating Passive Optical LAN and all possible Internet of Things (IoT) and smart/intelligent building connected devices.

About Tellabs

Tellabs is leading network innovations with access technologies built to exceed today’s demands while delivering modern high-performance solutions for the future. Fast and secure access has never been in more demand for enterprise and government connectivity. Tellabs’ sole focus is to deliver simple, secure, scalable, stable access to optimize network performance. Tellabs has delivered carrier-class access solutions to service providers for more than two decades. We are now expanding that leadership by defining the future of enterprise networking that connects the campus, buildings and inspires people.

John Hoover, Tellabs Marketing Director
John Hoover
Director of Marketing
John Hoover is a Marketing Director at Tellabs and 2024 Board Chair of the Association for Promoting Optical LAN (APOLAN). Over the past 20 years, John has influenced industry milestones such as early passive optical network deployments, video implementations, wireless and more recently enterprise Passive Optical LAN adoption.

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