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Durban-based gaming giant bets big on the cloud

Home Engineering ICT Durban-based gaming giant bets big on the cloud

DURBAN-headquartered international sports betting operator Hollywoodbets recently consolidated several platforms and technologies with the rollout of a single storage and server platform.

Touted as one of the largest private cloud infrastructure implementations in KwaZulu-Natal, the project was completed by hybrid IT systems integrator and managed services provider, Datacentrix.

Hollywoodbets is the largest online sports betting operator in South Africa and a leading contender on the world’s gaming stage. The primarily online company operates in South Africa, Mozambique, Ireland and the United Kingdom, with 92 stores across South Africa.

It offers betting on horse racing, soccer, cricket, rugby, tennis, motorsport and more. The operator also has a wide range of betting options on virtual games, casino-type slots and table games, live games, scratch cards, as well as lottery draws.

Michael Collins, General Manager at BET Software, Hollywoodbets’ provider of betting platforms, said they needed to double the capacity of its existing storage systems, and to extend the maintenance and support by a further 24 months.

“Multiple vendors provided the storage infrastructure, of which some warranties had expired, and others were about to lapse,” Collins said.  “Hollywoodbets faced several other challenges in managing performance and balancing capacity across these technologies, with limited real-time statistics and dashboards.

“In addition, the cost of maintenance was high; upgrades required downtime with additional business risk and loss of income. There was also a need for greater flexibility and agility to support growth, and to deploy new systems and solutions with higher performance.”

Datacentrix performed a detailed assessment of the existing environment to understand the complexity of the platforms accessed by the various applications and systems. The Datacentrix team also wanted to ensure that any suggested upgrades would not only support the required capacity, but also increase performance as Hollywoodbets expands its storage footprint.

Two scenarios were proposed by Datacentrix to Hollywoodbets; the first being to continue as is, with a view to doubling the capacity and extending the maintenance, while the existing systems would preserve the organisation’s current persona and limitations. The second option was the Infinidat Infinibox enterprise storage system.

Significant benefits

“The potential benefits that could be realised by using the Infinidat offering were significant,” Collins said and including a 20% cost reduction over three years and consolidation of the various storage platforms onto a single system, thereby greatly reducing operational and management overheads.”

Collins said the Infinibox solution could also provide for a capacity expansion of 250% within the same price point, and would deliver a seven ‘nines’ high availability platform, as opposed to its existing five nines solution, which is critical for a real-time online sports betting business.

“Finally, Infinidat’s unique commercial model would mean no downtime or physical upgrades for future capacity expansion requirements, and a fixed commercial model for expansion.”

Based on Datacentrix’ recommendations, BET Software then carried out an independent comparison to other solutions in the market, and found that the Infinidat option offered better availability, higher capacity, reduced TCO and on average was 40 to 50% more cost effective upfront than comparative offerings.

Peter Spies, Solutions Manager: KwaZulu-Natal Commercial at Datacentrix said, “The Infinibox storage solution was critical to the win and a major solution differentiator with its attractive pricing, innovative financial modelling, and Neural Cache technology that sees system performance optimised and improved year on year, unlike other technologies that typically slow down and develop bottlenecks over time.”

Datacentrix also recommended high-end servers designed to run Hollywoodbets’ demanding, missional-critical applications and databases, ensuring performance and availability.

The company was able to complete the environment assessments just prior to the initial COVID-19 lockdown, in February 2020, proposing the initial solution a few weeks later.

Engagement between the teams continued into lockdown, and the order was formally placed by Hollywoodbets in June 2020, with Infinidat’s commitment to a two-week delivery, despite many

local and global lockdown restrictions still being in place.

The actual implementation and ability to go live on the new Infinidat platform was completed within 96 hours, followed by a sixty-day testing and validation process.

By September, all production systems had been migrated onto the new platform. Hollywoodbets also took this opportunity to leverage the many benefits the new platform brought to optimise, migrate and consolidate their systems.

Once the old equipment was freed up, the third site DR build began and was completed in February 2021.

Reconfigurations and optimisation to some of the LAN switching and inter-site L2 links were completed by the middle of March 2021, which signalled the end of the project.

Betting on the new platform

“Datacentrix was able to triple the number of data warehouses running on the new Hollywoodbets high-performance, scalable platform with zero impact to users, customers or performance,” Spies said. “The system currently delivers around 5,000 bets per second (18 million bets per hour) with a catalogue of between 22,000 and 23,000 items available on which users are able to bet.”

Collins said, “From a commercial perspective, our cost per gigabyte of storage has halved, while performance has increased. Being an online real-time transaction business, system performance and online user experience is imperative. When there are events that impact on user experience, having access to immediate data and performance analysis is critical. Our new solution delivers on this.

“Less time is spent managing and optimising our storage systems and the AI technology takes care of optimisations. In the immediate nature of Hollywoodbets’ business, having AI technology that can predict and respond faster than any human has been significant and seamless.”

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