iGaming has long been dubious about outsourcing its most sensitive player data to third parties, thus far missing out on the cloud computing revolution. Industry innovators tell Betting Business why it’s high time operators took the plunge.
[dropcap]T[/dropcap]he iGaming industry is not often accused of being slow on the uptake. While other sectors nervously adopt a wait-and-see strategy, online gaming firms play both guinea pig and lab technician, experimenting with digital currencies and online security, and all the regulatory innovations needed to make them work.
This has not been so for cloud computing. For a 24/7 real-time industry, subsumed in player data, online gaming could benefit more than most from outsourcing computer capacity and analytics to third parties. Since its boom around 2010, other sectors have moulded their operations around the advantages of cloud technology, making huge savings and innovations in the process, yet until now online gaming has been uncharacteristically skeptical.
“The betting industry has always been inherently data driven but, with social and mobile activity growing in dominance, success largely lies in being able to crunch big data at real-time speeds,” says Dave Shuman, consumer products and retail at Cloudera – an innovative cloud computing firm that recently signed up SkyBet to its services.
“But to deliver quantitative value and gain a competitive advantage they need to be able to decipher that data and quickly put its insights to work.”
More than most, iGaming companies would benefit from flexible and scalable IT solutions, “largely because of the speed and volume of data they need to process and interpret each day,” Shuman adds. Cloud infrastructure caters for both: betting companies can ‘provision and deprovision’ services on demand, and scale up and scale down when it suits.
The betting industry has always been inherently data driven but, with social and mobile activity growing in dominance, success largely lies in being able to crunch big data at real-time speeds
SkyBet, for example, offloads its transactional data into Cloudera’s Enterprise platform, which is then shared with ‘downstream management systems’ that saves it time, space and manpower. Cloudera’s platform also ‘ingests’ SkyBet’s behavioural data, such as web analytics, and third-party data sets like market pricing, to improve machine learning and produce richer data.
But according to Shuman, strict industry regulations have thus far restricted companies in the betting and gaming industries from exploring cloud computing. “These restrictions mean sensitivity is heightened around any new data storage-related IT solution,” he adds, “and companies need the assurance that the solution, particularly cloud, offers a level of security that helps them uphold their data management compliance.”
With so much money at stake, a little trust can go a long way. For Vasilije Skoro, head of product at betting tech innovator, BtoBet, concerns about security should be outmoded by now, and far outweighed by the benefits.
“There is a common misconception that when iGaming and betting companies choose a cloud system, they are sacrificing their firm’s security,” says Skoro. “On the contrary, however, apart from being cheaper to operate, Cloud servers offer a higher level of security compared to their physical counterparts. When using a cloud server, the iGaming business won’t have to worry that its data is going to get mixed up as every operator is installed on its own independent frame.”
Indeed Skoro sees cloud computing as imperative for online gaming firms going forward. As technology will continue to rapidly change both the markets and their consumers, operators must have the freedom to evolve their approach just as fast. He gives the example of sites adding sportsbooks or land-based operators moving online. For Skoro, it’s do or die.
“With its scalability and flexibility, a Cloud operating system facilitates these choices with great efficiency,” he presses. “This way, companies can focus more on the important things; such as getting to know their players and actually running their businesses.”