There were two primary components to this project: the hardware and the software.
To meet the various requirements, the software was divided into several components. A few major components included:
- Management Control Panel
- A centralized configuration portal for all locations, used by corporate management.
- Music Decision Engine
- A proprietary music selection engine that makes playlist decisions based on time-of-day, cultural sensitivities, ethnic region and holidays.
- Programmable Promotional Content
- Dynamic injection of promotional content at fixed intervals, customizable by region, time of day, time of year and many other parameters.
- Real-time Reporting
- A core feature of the system is the ability to generate elaborate reports on system usage.
- Content Distribution Network
- A content delivery network for synchronizing new music video content to the local servers.
- Local Tablet Interface
- An iPad application for interfacing with the music system. This allows the local staff to customize the experience for their current guests.
When designing the hardware, we had to consider a few obstacles:
- Hard Rock Café has limited rack space
- Power outages are a fairly common occurrence
- Restaurants are a rough place for sensitive computer hardware
With these considerations in mind, we developed a hardware solution that met an exceeded the requirements.low-profile server with four independently controllable high-definition video output cards, including:
- Quad-Channel High-Definition Video Output
- A single server can output four simultaneous video streams up to a resolution of 1080P. In addition to supporting the latest resolutions, the server can output in older analog signals to support infrastructure in older buildings.
- Mass Storage
- Each server contains as much as 8TB of storage devices, assembled in a fault-tolerant RAID array. The disk array supplies enough storage for thousands of music videos, and can continue to function in the event of a hard disk failure.
- Lights-Off Management
- Every server has the ability to be controlled remotely, even if the operating system cannot load. We have remote power control, console access, temperature sensors and other diagnostics tools.
- Rugged Low-Profile Chassis
- The server chassis was chosen to fit in tight spaces, have plenty of ventilation and provide housing for several hard disk drives.
One of the main support challenges on this project is that the hours of operation never stop — Hard Rock operates in practically every time zone. To deal with this reality, we took several steps:
- Emergency Support Line
- We call it "The Bat Phone". This is a special line that goes straight to our on-call support staff.
- Support Ticket Tracking
- We use a ticketing system to track every support request from the time it is reported to the time it is resolved.
- Pro-active Monitoring
- Using a combination of off-the-shelf monitoring tools and proprietary software monitoring, we are able to predict and correct most problems before they become showstoppers.