Two Way Hard Three | Las Vegas Casino & Design Blog

September 21, 2006

Happy Birthday Mike!

Posted by Hunter

I don't usually do personal announcements here but I wanted to give birthday shout-outs to regular contributor Mike E.

Mike has become a good friend over the last year and I can't thank him enough for letting me see his Fairway Villa at Wynn Las Vegas last year.

Have a great one, Mike!


Read archived comments (10 so far)
September 21, 2006 7:39 PM Posted by Adam F

Happy Birthday!

September 21, 2006 8:54 PM Posted by mike_ch

Happy birthday!

Since we're kind of on a slow news day, I thought I'd share some information.

1) This little promotional piece on Apple's website talks about how MGM-MIRAGE is now moving many of it's operations to Apple Xserv servers, including upgrading things at the Mandalay hotels.

Although something about this seems odd: "owns and operates 24 casino properties on two continents, including Bellagio, MGM Grand Hotel and Casino, The Mirage, Treasure Island, New York � New York Hotel and Casino, Mandalay Bay, and Whiskey Pete�s." As the song went, one of these things is not like the others. One of these things isn't the same.

2) The new buffet has opened at the Golden Nugget and I ate there for lunch today. I haven't been paying attention to the Nugget lately nor the new owners' plans but after seeing their buffet, which has moved to the upstairs level, I think they have their minds are in the right place on how to present this hotel.

The room is nicely appointed with touches that were obviously "inspired" by Steve Wynn in various places. The food was good, keeping this buffet up there with Main Street Station for best downtown. The deserts I tried (admittedly not many) tasted a little bland but there were many of them, including pastries and I've never seen in a buffet before. There's eight or nine flavors of hand-scooped ice cream, which if you think about it is a bonus over the soft-serve machines you find even at Aladdin and Bellagio. The room feels the same size as Dishes at TI (hard to tell) but this lunch was better than my lunch there two months ago, and the price was 1/3rd less. I'll definitely come back.

By the way, the dining room looks over a construction site that will eventually be the pool, the shark tank in the pool seems to be underway, and a server told me the pool will have a waterslide that sends you through the shark tank? That should be interesting. Overall, this is certainly pretty groundbreaking stuff for downtown right now, and it needs the juice of a big flashy re-opening.

September 21, 2006 9:02 PM Posted by Hunter

I was talking to a friend that works at Apple (I am a die-hard Mac user for 18 years - I have never personally owned a Windows machine and the first copy of Windows I bought was to use on my Intel based Mac)... Anyway, the guy at Apple told me that MGM MIRAGE is indeed using XServe's but only in marketing, for stuff like sending out the mailings, etc...

MGM MIRAGE IT uses mostly HP servers and EMC storage products, with some Sun stuff as well. Mirage Resorts was a big Sun shop but they have been doing more and more with Windows and SQL Server over the past few years.

The state of casino IT is interesting as many of the hotel and casino management apps are AS400 / terminal based apps and have only recently starting popping up with Windows Server / .NET based variants.

September 21, 2006 10:14 PM Posted by mike_ch

Honestly, with something as critical and money-riddled as a casino, I don't know why you'd want to throw your IT lot in with Microsoft. It's conceivable you could do a lot of damage with their approach to seccurity and patching.

September 21, 2006 10:33 PM Posted by Hunter

It's less risky than it once was but yeah, it can be sketchy. They were using Win32 stuff for non-essential operations, not stuff like reservations. That might be changing though - I've been seeing a lot of companies in the Windows ecosystem bragging about converting MGM Mirage over from Unix based apps.

They do have a gnarly SQL Server setup that they use to do business intelligence stuff - basically they built hooks/triggers into many other systems and then feed XML data into SQL Server and then they use that with Cognos software to spot trends, allocate rooms, etc... Pretty gnarly.

From an IT perspective, casinos are pretty complex.

Full 24x7x265 operation that has a strict government audit component and backup requirements. Not fun.

In the MGM Mirage world, 'all wires lead to Bellagio' - most IT ops are centralized there and other resorts like TI and The Mirage have lights out computer rooms.

I find this stuff fascinating though I realize we're probably boring a bunch of folks.

Some case studies:

September 22, 2006 3:42 AM Posted by detroit1051

Mike_ch, Golden Nugget's website still shows the pool opening in October. Your report makes me think that is optimistic.

September 22, 2006 3:50 AM Posted by Mike E

Hunter, this was truly unexpected. I know how high the standards of this blog are regarding what is posted and what's not, so to have a birthday announcement on here is really special to me.

Thank you for the last year of awesome friendship, a wonderful blog, and sparking the comradery among us Las Vegas fanatics. Thanks to all of you!

September 22, 2006 6:37 PM Posted by mike_ch

Detroit, if you read more carefully you would have seen that I said the buffet looks over a construction site of what will someday be the pool.

I have some less than gorgeous cell phone photos of the buffet and pool construction, but I'll have to figure out where to upload them first.

September 22, 2006 9:07 PM Posted by detroit1051

"Detroit, if you read more carefully you would have seen that I said the buffet looks over a construction site of what will someday be the pool."

1) I did read it carefully.
2) I merely pointed out that the GN website still states the pool will open in October '06.
3) Perhaps I should have been more direct than writing it was "optimistic".
4) Good grief.

September 23, 2006 1:19 AM Posted by motoman

Ditto, Happy B-Day MikeE and thanks for your contris
my keboard is permanently damaged by the saliva that resulted from reading your TR on the Fairway Villa.

Thanks mike_ch for the news bit, wow, I've fwd'd the link to my Mac User Group's BBS. And yeah, I dunno why casinos would choose to run mission-critical stuff on MS. Would explain a lot about early glitches at Wynn, because if I understood correctly the whole hotel from restaurant reservations to TVs to VoIP phones are all linked to the XP network. (One source of that was Jim Louderback so maybe a grain of salt is in order....?)