Zero Downtime for New Security System at Leeds United Stadium

6 min read.

News Article
26 October 2022

Leeds United Football Club Trust Netprotocol & Allied Telesis to Provide Rock Solid Networking Throughout Elland Road and Training Grounds in West Yorkshire

Leeds United Football Club is one of England's most successful soccer clubs. The "Whites" have won numerous football accolades including First Division championship, the FA Cup, League Cup and Charity Shield, as well as enjoying success in European competitions throughout the club's history.

Leeds United was born out of Elland Road Stadium in Leeds, West Yorkshire, England in 1919; with a capacity of nearly 38,000 seated fans, the stadium is England's 14th largest football ground. The stadium has undergone numerous renovations and upgrades over the years, including the installation of new stands, executive suites, banqueting facilities, and critical security features; with further expansion of the stadium being in the planning stage at present.

Underlying these public-facing facilities is a high-capacity network which has been deployed and managed by Netprotocol bringing zero downtime, for over a decade. Netprotocol is a platinum-level Allied Telesis technology partner and currently maintains and supports the entire network.

Paul Rylett, Head of Networking at Netprotocol explains:

Allied Telesis has excellent solutions for building resilient, stable networking infrastructure. A switch could fail or something else could fail and the network is still hitless and faultless. The network stays up and can cope with the data used around the stadium.

The Challenge:

The priority for Leeds United's network infrastructure is to ensure a no-fail network operation around the ground and around the clock.

Mark Broadley, Head of IT and Facilities for LUFC, says the network is mission critical for the football club:

Our network operates every facet of the club’s business—from back-office operations and tickets sales, to hospitality, press facilities, and security operations located around the ground. The smooth, reliable operation of the stadium network is important for the club, fans, and community.

Netprotocol introduced Allied Telesis as their technology partner to Leeds United almost 15 years ago.

We put our trust in Paul and Allied Telesis all those years ago when they assured us that the network would be highly reliable” says Broadley. “The network has run continuously since then and that is valuable to us.

Through selecting Allied Telesis, Netprotocol is able to provide a resilient, stable networking infrastructure to their client. The solution is completely hitless and faultless, able to stay up and cope with the data that is used around the stadium.

A Robust Foundation Sets the Stage for Network Growth

The foundation began with two network cores—one 20 Gigabit connection in the main data centre in the East Stand and one 20 Gigabit connection in the ticket office in the West Stand.

We used diversely routed fibres going east to west and west to east around the stadium, essentially creating a 40 Gigabit ring that is completely faultless,” says Rylett. “Onto the two cores we then connected a number of edge cabinets that run the rest of the structure, including banqueting suites and guest pavilions, and even the training ground 20 kilometres away.

From a network perspective, LUFC use a unique model because they have several different types of businesses as part of their business overall. Rylett calls them “microcosms” because of the way they affect networking needs. These include a regular back-office, a call-centre, hospitality centres, ticketing booths, the press box and shops - all of which get a huge amount of foot traffic at different times throughout the day. Critically important, there is also a CCTV security system that operates several hundred surveillance cameras throughout the stadium. These diverse requirements must be supported with high reliability and performance.

Netprotocol installed a dedicated network layer using an Allied Telesis switch that supports Power over Ethernet (PoE) to each camera around the campus, further ensuring continuous operation of the security system.

In addition to the Elland Road Stadium, much of the clubs day to day operations take place from their training ground 20 kilometres away - which also form part of the network infrastructure, connecting back to the main stadium and centralised network management.

It’s great that we can view everything that is happening on the network from one console. The dashboard gives us all the network details, status, and event information so we can quickly address any issues that come up.

Graham Peck, Data Security Manager for Leeds United

Promotion Prompts Network Enhancements

The team’s promotion to the Premier League prompted many upgrades in services and networking to support match day requirements for press, travelling teams, security and more.

We increased the network bandwidth by putting more fibre into the network to support additional communications lines, such as for streaming games and interviews out over LUFC-TV,” says Broadley. “We replaced the network cores with even higher capacity connections, upgraded to the latest AlliedWare Plus operating system, and put a new management layer in place. With a single pane of glass management system over the entire network, we are able to view everything in much more detail.

Netprotocol implemented the Vista Manager EX network management platform and the Autonomous Management Framework (AMF) from Allied Telesis to centralise and automate network management.

AMF automates many of the common tasks we regularly perform, like firmware updates, backups, and zero-touch provisioning. It’s such a time-saver and it allows my small team to manage and maintain the network with great efficiency.

Graham continues.

As part of their service, Netprotocol provides an engineer on site for home matches to provide an extra pair of hands if needed.

We’re very confident in our networking team and the platform they have built over the years,” says Broadley. “We have a relationship that goes back at least a decade. They’ve built a network that is high performance, high speed, high density, and low maintenance. That’s crucial because there are so many moving parts to the network in this dynamic stadium environment. We have to meet so many different objectives under one roof, and we have to know that everything works just the way we need it to, without fail. Having confidence in all that makes my job so much easier.

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