With over 3.5 million fans attending the MCG annually, the Melbourne Cricket Club (“MCC”) needed full visibility of their highly available networks to meet the intense demands of match-days.
Implement a long-term Cisco maintenance contract for maintenance and support services including ad-hoc support, out-of-hours support, and on-site support.
“Communication is a key to success when working with a partner in a demanding IT environment. We stay in touch with the Data#3 team frequently to ensure we don’t miss a thing. I cannot speak highly enough of the Data#3 team and the way they have engaged with us.”
Rey Sumaru, General Manager of IT and Innovation, Melbourne Cricket Club
Affectionately known as ‘the G’, the MCC’s Melbourne Cricket Ground hosts many of Australia’s most popular sporting events. It is also home to events, functions, and the National Sports Museum.
Supporting everything from ticketing and security to visitor Wi-Fi, the highly available network built by the MCC’s IT team prioritises redundancy. Ongoing support was needed to ensure its Cisco systems performed with utmost reliability.
Facing high costs and limited visibility of the Cisco environment, the MCC was due to renew its Cisco support contract. With just weeks until the Boxing Day Cricket Test, MCC General Manager of IT and Innovation, Rey Sumaru, said it would have been simple to renew with the MCC’s current provider.
“It is easy to stay with who you know, but that isn’t always the answer,” said Sumaru.
“Our previous dealings with Data#3 had shown us the effort they make to understand how our business works.”
That business places extreme demands on the network, and failure is never an option.
“It is critical to have right business partner – we don’t get a second chance to get it right,” said Sumaru.
When tens of thousands of sports fans arrive to cheer their team, the MCC must be ready to greet them. Without its systems working, the show, quite simply, could not go on.
“The consequence would be that broadcast partners could not televise matches, the media couldn’t file stories, and we couldn’t get 70-80,000 people inside,” said Sumaru.
“Our access controls all depend on the network. Without them we couldn’t scan tickets or use the scoreboards – the critical infrastructure is what allows you to open the venue.”
Ensuring the right support is a vital part of maintaining the MCC’s systems, but time was running out to negotiate an agreement before the Ashes Test. When Data#3 extended an offer to provide support before contracts were signed, the MCC team recognised the ‘customer-first’ attitude.
Within two weeks, the MCC team received an extraordinary level of intelligence from Data#3 about its own environment. Information-gathering identified which equipment was due for renewal or approaching end-of-life. This allowed the MCC to plan and budget more effectively for future needs.
“A partner who understands us is critical in our business,” said Sumaru.
“We met with the Data#3 executives and team, and that gave us a level of comfort that they were the right fit.”
The maintenance agreement includes support for the entire network, back-office and stadium. Data#3 also provides tailored customer success activities, using its Hub platform to manage assets, lifecycle management, support arrangements, case-logging and incident management. The transparency and ease of access afforded by Data#3’s Hub platform allows the MCC team complete visibility of its environment and status.
“After a situation with little visibility, we can now see what we are dealing with,” said Sumaru.
Included in the agreement was a balance of service time to assist with ad-hoc support for game days and out-of-hours support, with on-site support quickly available around the clock.
“It is less stressful knowing we have backend redundancies, and a partner willing to jump on board to help, whenever we need them,” said Sumaru.
“They are very responsive.”
Given the tight time-frame, the transition to a new support partner had to occur very quickly, but it was a smooth process,” said Sumaru.
“Data#3 made the transition easy for us.”
While initially the plan had been for a shorter timescale, Data#3 was able to identify greater savings from Cisco by locking in an associated financing model under a long-term contract. It was a move that will save the MCC $300,000 over three years.
“The budget certainty gives the MCC ‘greater certainty’, but it is the assurance of ready, on-call support that is most important, given the potential cost of failure.” said Sumaru.
“Cisco were very engaged from day one, and it gave us a level of comfort that they knew what was in place. They are complemented perfectly by Data#3’s local expertise.”
By gaining visibility of IT assets and related support coverage, the MCC has been able to mitigate risk of failure and of licence non-compliance.
“Without the right coverage, we could have been exposed to unacceptable risk,” said Sumaru.
“Technology is a key platform for our operations, and without it our stadium couldn’t operate.”
“Communication is a key to success when working with a partner in a demanding IT environment,” said Sumaru, who values the relationship his team has established.
“We stay in touch with the Data#3 team frequently to ensure we don’t miss a thing,” said Sumaru.
“I cannot speak highly enough of the Data#3 team and the way they have engaged with us.”
Ensuring ongoing availability of an outstanding network is something that cannot be left to chance for the MCC team, and Sumaru is happy that with Data#3 and Cisco, it is in safe hands.
“They took time to understand our business, and often vendors don’t take that time,” said Sumaru.
His advice is to start researching available options early, to give plenty of time to make decisions.
“Don’t assume that your current partner is the best without checking the other available options.”
With support in place, and exceptional redundancy built in, the MCC can continue to offer the thrilling visitor experience it is famous for.
“For a typical match, we cater for 70,000 visitors to log on, and we get consistently good feedback on how good our Wi-Fi is,” said Sumaru.
“These days, technology is all part of the show that the fans love at the MCG.”