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Virtual reality golf brings Trace3 into greenfield project

Drive Shack Inc., a virtual reality golf business, puts a new twist on a greenfield deployment.

Starting from scratch, the company sought an IT infrastructure capable of supporting a 60,000-square-foot facility in Orlando, Fla. The complex needed everything from gaming platforms to servers and security. The concept is to let golfers virtually play courses from around the world.

Ravi Nekkalapu, CIO and head of IT at Drive Shack, reached out to Trace3 Inc., an IT solutions provider based in Irvine, Calif. Nekkalapu had a previous relationship with Trace 3 when he was senior director, enterprise architecture and cloud strategy, at Wyndham Worldwide. In the new arrangement, Trace 3 was tasked with devising the technology underpinning Drive Shack’s flagship facility.

“Trace3’s approach was to review the customer’s overall goals, designs, and requirements for this new venture,” said Tim Benner, vice president of architecture and strategy at Trace3.

Cisco’s role in virtual reality golf

As a result of Trace3’s technology review and proof of concept initiatives, Cisco and the vendor’s StadiumVision (now Cisco Vision for Sports and Entertainment) was deemed the best fit. Cisco Vision for Sports and Entertainment centrally manages the distribution of video and digital content to high-definition or ultra-high-definition displays installed throughout a given venue.

Benner said the Cisco offering provided “the best of breed and bleeding-edge capabilities at the infrastructure level we were looking for.”

Cisco-provided infrastructure includes Unified Computing System servers for client compute, video servers and hardware, Catalyst switches, Cisco routers, Meraki MX and Cisco Firepower Threat Defense security appliances, and wireless technology from Meraki.

Having a single vendor responsible for those infrastructure elements provided a simplified “one-throat-to-choke” support mechanism, Benner said.

Other infrastructure elements

Cisco, however, contributed one of many pieces of the Drive Shack technology ecosystem. Other infrastructure components include golf ball dispensers, Android tablets, security cameras and systems, cameras that track ball and player movements, and StorMagic’s virtual storage-area network products.

Software for providing client compute, Benner said, is based on VMware for virtualization and Microsoft Windows Server and Windows 10 for delivering the gaming platform as well as infrastructure services for administration and authorization of the gaming platforms.

As for deployment, Cisco provided in-depth implementation of its StadiumVision infrastructure platform, while Trace3 implemented the other infrastructure components for virtual reality golf.

Benner said the key to this project — and realizing the Drive Shack vision — was the “concept of team ownership of every system, from infrastructure to gaming platforms and development.”

Next steps

With its infrastructure in place, Drive Shack’s Orlando facility opened in April 2018. Other Drive Shack virtual reality golf centers are on the horizon. Trace3 is working on the next facilities scheduled to launch, including centers in Raleigh, N.C., Richmond, Va. and West Palm Beach, Fla.

To support the current and planned Drive Shack golf complexes, Trace3 manages a technology-testing lab in White Plains, N.Y. Benner said plans are in the works to open a larger lab, capable of mimicking “the full stage and platform” of a Drive Shack facility.

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