While attention is focused on the hard-hitting Denver Broncos on the field at Mile High Stadium, behind the scenes and away from the spotlights, a complementary crew of coaches, cheerleaders, marketers and other staff – totaling 300 people – use the team's private and virtual private networks (VPN) to share classified data, including videos, playbooks and scouting information. Additionally, on days when the team plays at home, the IT team supports up to 4,000 people requiring Wi-Fi.
An appearance in Super Bowl XLVIII last February certainly has brought more acclaim to the team. Though it came away with a loss that day at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J., as the men sauntered off the field and into the passageways leading to the locker rooms, all the elements supporting their efforts were in full force – and that includes the technicians running the media feeds, coaching and administrative staff communicating from the sidelines and luxury boxes, the fans tweeting out their impressions and any number of digital broadcasting options connecting those present with others elsewhere on the planet.
Leading up to this away appearance at the NFL's peak moment, a good deal of effort back at home had already gone into recognizing that not only were bandwidth demands continuing to grow, but that security threats were becoming increasingly sophisticated. The six-person Broncos IT team realized that it needed not only greater bandwidth but a more secure network.
Most obviously, the IT team found itself spending too much time managing firewalls. Additionally, users – both in the stands and behind the scenes – were becoming frustrated with the network's spotty performance. The IT team came to a decision: It needed a simpler way to enable secure and reliable remote access – with real-time visibility into traffic loads and improved network bandwidth management and scalability.
In an effort to solve this bandwidth challenge and gain greater security and control over the Broncos network as a whole, the team sought out a reliable and manageable solution. The goal? Creating a more secure network, improving staff efficiency and offering faster Wi-Fi access for fans, employees and vendors.
Besides the Sports Authority Field at Mile High Stadium, the Broncos organization operates a 13.5-acre complex at Dove Valley Business Park in nearby Englewood, consisting of executive offices and a training facility, a headquarters in the Paul D. Bowlen Memorial Broncos Centre in Dove Valley, and a stadium and ticketing office in Denver.
As with any team, everyone does their part to help the Broncos be successful, including IT, says Chris Newman, IT architect for the Denver Broncos. “Our goals are optimizing employee productivity, bulletproofing network security and giving fans a game-day experience that exceeds what they get at home, including reliable Wi-Fi access.” While the Broncos organization and IT team are small, they are highly visible and can't risk intrusions or security breaches, he adds.