Customer Success Story
AI-driven networking is sweet music at the Walmart AMP
Keith Urban. The Jonas Brothers. Jimmy Buffett. The Walmart Arkansas Music Pavilion (AMP) brings big-name entertainment to the northwest corner of the state. To meet the digital expectations of artists, patrons, and staff, the Walmart AMP turned to AI-driven networking from Juniper.
185,000 square feet of outdoor Wi-Fi
Plus additional backroom coverage
Optimized Wi-Fi connectivity in open-air venue
Replaces manual troubleshooting
Use technology to enhance experience of artists, guests, and staff
Bring world-class live entertainment to northwest Arkansas
“We want to provide an exceptional experience for the artists,” says Jon Downey, director of IT for the Walmart AMP and its owner, Walton Arts Center. “Artists come to perform at the venue, but they are also running their businesses. If we don’t provide an exceptional technology experience for the artists, their tour buses will pass us by.”
But artists, guests, and staff often encountered digital interruptions due to aging Wi-Fi, making it difficult for anyone to work or just post to social media on a show day. Mobile ticket scanners would regularly disconnect, creating frustration for eager concertgoers and the staff who work the entry gates. Inside the venue, the Wi-Fi network needed to reliably support cashless food and beverage purchases.
“A two- or three-second delay when scanning 7000 tickets means the gates back up, and people wait in the hot sun,” says Downey. “We needed a well-designed network to elevate the digital experience for artists, patrons, volunteers, and staff.”
“I needed the network to work for me”
Heightened density and mobility requirements make delivering great Wi-Fi in entertainment venues like the Walmart AMP particularly challenging.
“Any time 11,000 people are roaming around, designing Wi-Fi can be difficult,” says Downey. “As a nonprofit, we’ll never have an army of technical resources to maintain the network. I needed the network to work for me.”
He found that partner in Juniper. “When I learned about Juniper and Mist AI, I realized that the network could be my army.”
Juniper Wireless Access Points and Juniper EX4400 Multigigabit Switches work in conjunction with the Juniper Mist Cloud and Mist AI™ to deliver predictable, reliable, and measurable connectivity across the Walmart AMP. The Wi-Fi network covers 185,000 square feet, including a 12,000-square-foot covered seating area, an expansive lawn, concession stands, and walkways. Additional Wi-Fi covers the backstage areas, including artist dressing rooms, green room, and loading docks.
Mist AI optimizes the Wi-Fi RF settings in real time, ensuring that artists and guests have great wireless connectivity wherever they are in the venue. Juniper Mist Wi-Fi Assurance and Wired Assurance streamline network operations and speed troubleshooting.
The refresh also included the wired access and core segments with Juniper EX4400 and EX4650 Switches. Juniper Mist Wired Assurance is used to manage the collapsed core with EVPN-VXLAN multihoming and ESI Link Aggregation Groups. AI-driven Wi-Fi Assurance and Wired Assurance have helped uncover a variety of issues, from a port flapping on an older switch to problems with newly run fiber.
Juniper SRX4100 Firewalls run in a high availability cluster to enable and protect guests’ wireless Internet access, while empowering the IT team to view traffic analytics with real-time correlation to the live performance.
Digital experiences hit the right notes
Artists performing at the Walmart AMP have great Wi-Fi whether they’re in their dressing rooms, the green room, or working while on their buses backstage. Food and beverage purchases are now cashless. The entire guest experience has been transformed from the moment a patron’s ticket is scanned.
“We can get 1000 people through the gates in 10 minutes,” Downey says.
With technology increasingly important at entertainment venues, the team is exploring Juniper Mist User Engagement Services and Mist Asset Visibility for real-time location services at the venue.
“We are using data to improve operations, and the network will be able to tell us where people are in the venue to optimize entry points and help them find the services that are the closest to them,” says Downey.
Published October 2022