How a Napa Winery Leverages IoT to Satisfy Customers

MAY 26, 2016 • Blog Post • BY JENNIFER GOFORTH GREGORY, HPE MATTER

IN THIS ARTICLE

  • Carneros Inn, a resort in California wine country, leverages a flexible IT infrastructure to meet the needs of their Silicon Valley visitors

How robust IT infrastructure enables Napas Carneros Inn to meet all guests tech requests

Employees at The Carneros Inn, a resort in the heart of California wine country, joke that they have heard pretty much every technology related request possible in the past 12 years the inn has been operating.

Jonathan Vail, assistant director of IT at The Carneros Inn, often receives run-of-the-mill requests like videoconferencing technology, where he can reprogram his entire network in a matter of minutes to meet a client’s need (and has many times). But Vail has also gotten some out-of-the-ordinary asks as well.

“If you can think it up, then we have most likely implemented the technology to make it work at some point or another,” laughs Vail. And he’s not kidding—The Carneros Inn has integrated a wireless LED-lit tree with mobile devices hanging from the branches, used Internet of Things devices on valet parked cars and supported several virtual reality product demos, to name a few.

  • We can have our network set up one way today, and we can change it tomorrow.

“We can have our network set up one way today, and we can change it tomorrow,” says Vail. “Honestly, it’s the versatility that our infrastructure provides that allows us to provide the level of technology service to our guests and special events.”

Supporting 27 acres and high-tech guests

Because of their proximity to Silicon Valley, The Carneros Inn’s guests and corporate events have higher technology expectations and needs than the average resort. But thanks to support from Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE), Vail and his on-site IT team are able to quickly meet whatever is thrown their way. “Our guests are used to having a lot of bandwidth at home and work, so we focus on giving them the same level of connectivity, if not a little better, than they are used to in their daily lives,” says Vail.

One of the biggest challenges in regard to IT infrastructure at the resort is the sheer size of the property—27 acres—as well as the need to have wireless coverage for all outdoor spaces. The design of the guest rooms (each of the cottages are separate structures with no adjoining walls) as well as the metal roofs, which can interfere with wireless signals, add additional layers of complexity. “We have connectivity everywhere, from our event spaces to the Hilltop, all of the paths through the resort to all of the public spaces, as well as every guest room,” says Vail. “I think the only place where you currently can’t get a signal is our employee parking lot.”

Powering two networks

The Carneros Inn uses HPE ProLiant servers and switches throughout the property to power two separate networks—a guest-facing network and a secure one for administrative use. “Having two networks gives us physical separation, more options and more protection,” says Vail. The Inn’s servers have been running 24/7 for the past eight years, with a current uptime of 722 days. “We are basically 95 percent an HPE property,” says Vail. “We selected HPE because of their fabulous service and because they have been there for us whenever we needed help, including meeting me at the property at 3:00 A.M. with parts for a high priority service ticket.”

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Since the property does not have perfect coverage through all cellular carriers, their networks have been optimized to provide Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) so guests can make cell phone calls. Vail also uses the network, supported by VMware, to support virtual infrastructures. This allows him to test products and applications with multiple vendors without having any effect on the live systems that keep the resort operational. He also often makes copies of the live servers to create test environments when trying out new configurations, without risking downtime for guests or special events.

  • Having a robust, flexible infrastructure made a huge difference in Carneros Inns overall revenue.

The network powers technology that runs the day-to-day operations of the hotel as well. “We use tablets as POS stations as opposed to paying thousands and thousands of dollars a year to pay someone else to do it for us,” says Vail. The tablets on property restaurants run over the HPE network for ordering and POS systems. 

Having a robust and flexible infrastructure has made a huge difference in The Carneros Inn’s overall revenue, both for special events and guests needing access to wireless technology. “We couldn’t provide what we do without our current infrastructure,” says Vail. “I honestly can’t think of a time where we couldn’t meet a request. The overall returns are far greater than the cost.”

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