Home/ Colocation/ Relocating servers of the gambling company to Frankfurt: reasons for the relocation, infrastructure development, benefits for the client

Relocating servers of the gambling company to Frankfurt: reasons for the relocation, infrastructure development, benefits for the client

First time we met representatives of the company, which will be in the spotlight today, in 2015, when we participated in the exhibition dedicated to data centers. The acquaintance turned out to be extremely important, since at that moment the company was looking for opportunities to relocate its servers to Germany. The reasons why Frankfurt was selected will be outlined below. First, a few words about the history of the company and the motives that prompted management to look for a new service provider and a new data center (DC).

Due to the non-disclosure agreement (NDA), we cannot disclose the names of our clients, so we will call this company iGaming. This name most accurately conveys the essence of its activities.

Relocating servers of the gambling company to Frankfurt

Relocation of servers to Germany and the start of rapid business growth

In the beginning of our cooperation, this company was a small business in the niche of gambling and cyber-sports. The company owned an online gambling platform and was also engaged in the development of gaming systems and applications. The business was physically located in a European country.

For eight years we have watched the development of iGaming and helped them to grow from our side. Gradually, iGaming has grown from a small business, localized in one country, into a gaming empire of global scale. Today it uses the most advanced IT solutions, has powerful resources, geographically distributed infrastructure and millions of users in different parts of the world.

We are pleased to know that we also participated in such a dynamic business development, helping to build and scale the company’s IT system.

Relocation of servers to Germany and the start of rapid business growth

Why the relocation to a German data center was necessary

Before the migration, the main node of the client’s IT infrastructure was located in neighboring Poland. This site was not selected by chance: it was necessary to find a place to set servers close to the actual location of the business and at the same time – abroad.

The fact is that iGaming had regular problems in its own country. The data center where the client rented racks was constantly subjected to inspections and searches. In the course of such actions, employees of the inspecting authorities could seize hardware not only from the violators, but also from all other tenants. After confiscation, the servers were returned, but no one compensated for the losses incurred by the business during the forced downtime. The raids were quite frequent and created high risks for the company.

”Gambling platform is an online web site that must be constantly available to its users. Even one hour of downtime completely blocks the business and leads to the loss of customers and, accordingly, profits” – Volodymyr Marchenko

Our client could not afford such losses. Therefore, as a way out, the company decided to migrate to one of the Polish data centers. Poland was selected for several reasons:

  1. It is European country, and in Europe, laws are enforced: during an inspection law enforcement agencies do not have the right to confiscate servers, computers and other hardware for no reason.
  2. At that time, relocating the core of its IT infrastructure to a data center located in the close proximity of its business seemed to the client to be the optimal solution, including from an economic point of view.

The migration was carried out, and physical servers with basic data were relocated to Poland in order to have quick access to this data at any time.

”The remote location of the core of the gaming system in a data center in a neighboring European country protected the company from illegal seizures and did not require additional expenses: server rent was inexpensive" – Olga Boujanova

What the relocation of servers to Poland led to

iGaming needed reliability, security, and stability. Migration was seen as a way to insure the business against risks. But, as it turned out later, the decision to relocate to a Polish data center did not protect it from unpleasant surprises.

At first, there were no problems. The client was satisfied with the server setup and the general level of the data center services. Issues began to arise later, and they were no longer legal, but technical in nature. There were interruptions in availability: the hardware could remain unavailable for a whole day, and sometimes downtime increased to three days. Contacting technical support did not give anything: the data center specialists could not clearly answer when they would fix the issue.

”After relocating its servers to Poland, iGaming started to lose profit again. In the new data center the constant work of resources was not guaranteed, simultaneously the downtime started to occur with surprising regularity. And for a gaming platform unavailability is critical. Business which is built on 100% availability of a gaming resource loses money every minute in case of any disruptions in the IT infrastructure operation” – Volodymyr Marchenko

Let’s see how this situation looks in the eyes of the user of such gambling platform. Fully trusting the platform, he or she creates player’s account there, transfers money to the account, and places the bet. And right after this, the web site suddenly becomes inaccessible. Naturally, the player panics and starts to distrust the platform. As a result, the platform’s rating rapidly drops down, its current and potential customers move to other gaming resources. The crash of the web site leads to a decrease in traffic, turnover, causes financial and reputational damage to the business.

Guided by the interests of the business, its owners decide on another relocation of servers with a security core, but this time they are more careful in selecting its location and specific data center.

Although, we must give credit to the rest of Polish data centers: some of them provide better quality and uninterrupted service. iGambling is simply had a poor luck with this one: it may be that during this particular period of time this data center experienced an increased failure rate or the SLA was insufficient, and the client did not pay attention to it.

The second relocation and criteria for data center selection

Nevertheless, having had a double negative experience in his own and in neighboring country, the client became more demanding of data centers. In preparation for the new migration, he had already compiled a list of criteria by which he evaluated the candidates. The client was looking for a certified, well-equipped and reliable data center that could accommodate critical IT services without risk. At the top of the list were the following criteria:

  • Performance, fault tolerance, reliability, availability of backup power supplies (DCs below Tier III level were not even considered);
  • SLA from 99%;
  • Server protection from DDoS attacks;
  • Location: Germany, preferably Frankfurt.

Beginning of cooperation

Our future client was in the process of searching for a data center to relocate his critical servers there. That’s when we met at the exhibition. He told us about his problems, and our development director suggested possible solutions.

The client expressed interest in our cloud service. iGaming already had experience with Oracle Cloud using Oracle database in the development of software products. By the way, modules under Linux Oracle were supported on physical servers of the company for a long time, only after several years iGaming completely switched to virtual machines. We specialized in Oracle virtualization, so we could offer the client the necessary compatibility.

At the first meeting there was no question of cooperation between iGaming and CloudKleyer. The client was simply looking for a suitable data center to rent cloud services for his gaming platform, and our company was one of the potential candidates. However, the conversation turned out to be productive: the representative of the company was interested in the prospects of partnership with us, and it was decided to continue communication.

Negotiations, face-to-face meeting of technical specialists

At first we communicated remotely by phone and email. In CloudKleyer communication is built in such a way that the main link between the company and the client is the project coordinator. It is he who calls, writes, collects information, answers questions, etc., in short, establishes and maintains contacts. But remote communication cannot replace face-to-face communication. And when it is necessary to solve not only organizational, but also many technical issues, it is impossible to do without a face-to-face meeting of technical specialists. Therefore, negotiations were organized for the convenience of the client – in the office of iGaming. From our side, the business meeting was attended by the technical director and project coordinator.

"Why do we schedule "live" talks and hold them at the client's premises? First of all, to get to know and communicate in person, as well as to meet with company executives, engineers and technicians who are responsible for the IT infrastructure and network. Communication through remote channels is inferior to live dialog. Only in a face-to-face meeting can technicians thoroughly discuss all important details and speak in a professional language" – Olga Boujanova

At CloudKleyer, we have introduced such an internal SLA: we always get to know a potential client personally. As a rule, after establishing contact through online communication channels, we organize a face-to-face meeting within the next 7-14 days. It doesn’t matter whether the company is located in Germany or in another part of Europe.

Without violating the established regulations, we agreed to negotiate with iGaming representatives on site. It was very important for the client to get to know our technical director, who is not only the ideologist of CloudKleyer and the architect of the firm’s infrastructure, but also one of the best virtualization specialists.

There was also a purely practical reason to organize negotiations on the client’s territory: a large staff of technical specialists in iGaming. At the same time, they could not leave their work places to travel to another country. And a meeting on “their” territory gave such an opportunity. Developers, network engineers, technicians, system administrators, security specialists: more than ten employees from different departments joined the conversation.

The negotiations lasted for more than three hours. During this time we had time to discuss the most important technical aspects of cooperation and come to a mutual understanding. It was obvious that the conversation was in the same language and involved high-level professionals from both sides.

Signing the agreement

The instability of the hub in Poland was becoming more and more critical for the business every day. So the client was in a big hurry. That’s why as soon as we returned home we started to actively prepare for the project. First we had to prepare the contract, including in its text all the iGaming requirements: first of all on server configuration, customization and SLA that we should be providing.

The paperwork was already being agreed and signed remotely. The company used a simplified document flow, which also suited us. We exchanged electronic copies of the signed documents, and this became the starting point of our official partnership

All this did not happen in one day, the preparatory activities took some time. So the final version of the agreement was signed two months later after negotiations in the iGaming office. At the same time we allocated resources for the client IT infrastructure.

Why the client selected CloudKleyer

The client had several German data centers on his list. However, he decided to select us as his service provider. What factors influenced his decision?

  • location – we host resources in the Telehouse Frankfurt data center;
  • excellent connectivity (30 milliseconds – ping to the client’s country);
  • DC certifications are suitable for gambling company licensing;
  • individual approach, understanding of business problems and needs, willingness to help;
  • direct contact with our specialists.

All of this made the customer feel at ease with us and led to a long-term mutually beneficial cooperation. And it was a personal meeting with our technical director that played a decisive role.

Now let’s reveal the details.

Why Frankfurt is the best place to locate IT infrastructure

The client selected a data center based on the criteria of security and stable availability of servers. And Frankfurt is the most attractive city in this respect, not only in Germany, but in the whole of Europe.

The fact is that many businesses and organizations are concentrated here, for which the reliability of both the information system and communications is of vital importance. It’s not without reason that Frankfurt is considered the banking capital of Europe and the telecommunications heart of the country. It is home to:

  • numerous financial organizations of different scale, including the Central European Bank;
  • 60+ data centers, and this number is growing every year;
  • DE-CIX, the largest commercial traffic exchange hub on the continent, uniting more than 500 telecom operators and Internet service providers;

It was possible to ensure failure-free operation of all these entities only by having developed communications, which were built with the help of fiber optics and the most modern technologies.

Why Frankfurt is the best place to locate IT infrastructure

In addition, American troops were based in Frankfurt for a long time, which required reliable communication channels, duplicated to guarantee security. After the military left, all these communications remained.

That’s why businesses for which the availability of physical and virtual cloud servers is critical are trying to locate their resources in Frankfurt, seeing the city as the most telecom-reliable location in Europe.

Global coverage

We understand how important it is for a data center to fully meet the needs of the business, so we provide potential clients with access to virtual machines to evaluate critical parameters. This is a standard procedure, so iGaming specialists conducted testing before the contract was finalized. After evaluating the speed and connectivity, they confirmed that our services meet their requirements.

Our network includes an exchange node located in DE-CIX as well as widely distributed access points providing coverage from Eastern and Central Europe to the UK and USA. This strategic choice of uplinks was made to ensure maximum connectivity and comprehensive coverage.

Telehouse Frankfurt: main characteristics of the DC

We host our clients’ hardware in one of the most reliable data centers in Europe – Telehouse Frankfurt, which is part of the Telehouse group of companies headquartered in London. Telehouse, in its turn, is a division of Japan’s KDDI Corporation, an international corporation supplying telecommunications services to all countries of the world.

Telehouse Frankfurt Telehouse Frankfurt occupies several buildings. Its total area is 25 thousand square meters and connected to DE-CIX. The data center has been assigned Tier III reliability level, which is recognized as the best among public data centers. Telehouse Frankfurt is the optimal option for cloud colocation of critical IT resources.

The Tier III standard means that the data center has serious backup capacity, such as backup hardware and spare cooling units, which allows for non-stop system maintenance. These are highly reliable and fault-tolerant data centers, capable of delivering 99.999% uptime and availability.

Compliance standards of Telehouse Frankfurt

  • ISO/IEC 27001:2013,
  • ISO 9001:2015,
  • DIN EN ISO 50001:2018,
  • DIN EN 50600,
  • PCI-DSS,
  • ISAE 3402 Type 2,
  • Green Energy.

iGaming operates in the gambling industry, so the DC of the third level of reliability is ideal for the company to pass ISO 9000 certification and licensing.

Beginning of technical work on the project: customization and optimization

After agreeing and approving all terms and conditions, the contract was signed and we started working on the technical part of the project. As a first step, the client selected our cloud solution based on Oracle virtualization. We provided the company with five servers and a separate storage system connected to the pool via Fibre Channel. We provided access to the control panel, and iGaming engineers independently set up and configured the virtual servers.

At the start of our cooperation, we were adapting: we resolved current technical problems, solved emerging issues, and selected optimal solutions for the client. At that time, about eight years ago, the client’s team already included qualified IT specialists with specialized education and certification in the field of building reliable information systems. Most of them had considerable experience in creating IT infrastructures under conditions of increased requirements to security and fault tolerance.

This way, iGaming specialists had an understanding of building and managing infrastructure, but sometimes they needed our technical support. For example, they consulted with us during the integration of Oracle Database with our Oracle-based cloud solution, when they faced technical issues and required attention of specialized engineers. We, in turn, analyzed and evaluated the efficiency of solutions used in iGaming and actively cooperated with developers.

At the stage of getting to know our company, it was important for the client to understand our technical capabilities and the level of professionalism of our team. The client carefully approached the construction of infrastructure in terms of reliability and fault tolerance. The experience of iGaming specialists was strengthened by negative lessons learned in the past data centers. Therefore, they emphasized even more on security and details that could create vulnerabilities.

Clients appreciate transparent communications, and our project manager was constantly in touch with the client company. But even more important was the technical aspect of cooperation. When they saw us in action and realized that there was mutual understanding, that we shared their views, responded quickly, and tried to find the best solutions to improve system reliability, our partnership reached the next level.

“Already at the first stages of building the company's IT infrastructure in our data center, it became obvious that the cooperation would be successful. The client was working with specialists who had a clear concept of how the IT system should look like. In our company they found understanding professionals who are ready to provide support and assistance in the realization of their ideas” – Volodymyr Marchenko

How the client’s IT infrastructure grew in stages

Since 2015, the client has been using an infrastructure built individually on our cloud service. In the beginning, the company did not rent a separate rack, which caused its hardware to be distributed in different locations. At the same time, for ease of maintenance, we tried to concentrate most of the hardware in one cage and one (later two) data cabinets.

As the business grew and developed, about a year and a half to two years after the start of the cooperation, the company began to expand aggressively. This led to new tasks and requirements for the IT infrastructure, including the need for full control over resources.

In order to find out the details and find the best solution to these issues, we had to hold joint negotiations, as we did. Having obtained necessary information, we made a proposal and a plan to switch to a hybrid infrastructure. In addition to virtual servers, we offered the client to lease dedicated servers, the configuration of which corresponded to the new business needs. Afterwards the client started to regularly add physical servers, ordering them in pools of 5 or 10, and the largest order amounted to 24 servers.

How the client's IT infrastructure grew in stages

During one of the next IT system expansions, additional hardware was added: separate network devices and physical data storages – first Fujitsu Eternus DX Storage, later Dell Unity XT All-Flash Storage. At the time, this was the most advanced storage on the SSD platform, providing increased fault tolerance. Stable connections between devices were achieved through the use of fiber optic cabling and Fiber Channel.

Every year the number of hosts for different types of virtualization increased. After a while, the client wanted to use the services of large-scale cloud providers. To enable this, we integrated the existing IT infrastructure, hosted in our data center, with cloud platforms such as AWS, Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud.

Relocation of servers to our data center in Frankfurt is not just an IT infrastructure improvement. It’s a step towards a global business transformation. With the reliability, speed and security we offer, you can focus on the growth and development of your company while we take care of the technical side.

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Integration and customization of a hybrid IT infrastructure

The client used a combination of hardware. Therefore, different types of devices had to be linked together to create a hybrid infrastructure. We took over the connection process while the client provided technical specifications.

The standard server connection procedure included one management connection, two Gigabit Ethernet connections and one Fibre Channel connection to the storage. The entire infrastructure was built using two switches to ensure reliability and redundancy. In the event of a failure of one switch, the system continued to function via the second switch.

The initial connectivity plan was agreed and approved back when the first pool of five servers was added to the infrastructure. As the client’s IT infrastructure expanded and became more complex, we connected new hardware periodically and already knew the basic principles. So we simply ordered new servers routinely, figuring out the configuration, amount of RAM, required processors and other details beforehand. This way, components were added and connected according to the already worked out scheme.

Engaging with clients in a changed environment

According to our service standards, we meet with existing clients regularly, twice a year. At these sessions, details of cooperation and technical aspects of projects are discussed, and a strategy for the future is built. Unfortunately, due to the pandemic, the lockdown and subsequent world events, this practice was disrupted. The last face-to-face meeting with iGaming representatives took place in 2019.

Currently, it is not possible to visit the country where the client’s office is located, so all communication is done remotely. Despite these obstacles, we continue to keep in close touch. For example, in January this year we held an online meeting to discuss infrastructure improvements, new requirements and future developments.

January was selected for several reasons. Traditionally, it is a quiet period for a gambling company. Also by this time the budget and tasks for the near future have already been determined, which allows employees responsible for infrastructure to have a clear idea of their responsibilities.

”The main purpose of our annual meetings with clients is to plan and discuss necessary changes, including both expansion and optimization of infrastructure, reduction of the number of servers, hardware upgrades, installation of new processors and other aspects” – Olga Boujanova

Developing customized IT solutions

In our practice, we always strive to offer solutions that are perfectly suited to each client’s unique needs, taking into account their current infrastructure and business development goals. We avoid standard mass-market offerings, as we believe in the uniqueness of each IT system and the importance of an individual approach.

When new products or features are introduced, we analyze the needs of our clients based on what hardware they have in our data center. If we see that an innovation can be useful and technically feasible, we inform our clients about it. For example, if a company uses physical servers that have been in operation for more than 5 years and became obsolete, and we have a more modern and powerful solution, we will definitely offer them to consider the possibility of optimization.

Such upgrades often prove beneficial to clients in terms of both: improved reliability and lower costs, as modern hardware can provide significantly higher performance than legacy systems.

If we are sure of the relevance of the proposal, we send an email to the client and then discuss the details over the phone. Communication allows us to identify important aspects that may require additional changes or alternative solutions. At the same time, if the client does not wish to upgrade the system, we do not insist on changes. We simply continue to support the existing hardware, ensuring its stable operation.

In the next block, read about one of such innovations that we offered to iGaming.

Optimize data storage with Object Storage S3 to ensure dispersion

To improve operations and resource efficiency, we offered a gambling platform a new solution: apply Object Storage S3 for backup storage.

This allows us to distribute backups and infrastructure across multiple data centers, which is a standard practice among our clients. In light of our client’s business growth and transition to leading cloud providers, this approach to data storage has become particularly relevant. Object Storage S3 is ideally suited to work with large cloud platforms, so we offered the client the use of our object storage to provide the necessary decentralization of data. And he took the offer.

Strategies to counter DDoS threats in the gambling industry

Selecting a reliable data center is not the only challenge faced by gambling web site operators. They are also subject to periodic DDoS attacks, often from competitors. This form of cybercrime is a well-known problem in the gambling industry. Our client has experienced it on a number of occasions: their online platforms have also been subject to regular DDoS attacks.

“A DDoS attack is a hacker activity that aims to create abnormally high traffic that overloads servers and causes system failures. Under normal circumstances, a dedicated server is able to handle a certain number of users, but under the influence of hacker attacks, it fails, making the web service or site inaccessible. This leads to loss of revenue and negatively affects the company's reputation” – Volodymyr Marchenko

For online gambling business, which income directly depends on the smooth operation of the web site, each successful DDoS attack is critical, as it leads to significant financial losses. During a cyber-attack on one of the clients, hackers overload an entire communication channel with traffic, which leads to network and router congestion. As a result, other clients could be affected. Consequently, we had to find a solution to address these threats.

As the client’s business grew and developed, DDoS attacks began to occur at least twice a year, coinciding with championships, seasonal competitions, and other major sporting events and holidays. As soon as the audience at the site increased, it was invariably accompanied by a hacker attack. Although the attacks lasted no more than a few hours, they caused serious damage to business.

We spent a lot of time looking for effective DDoS mitigation methods and testing different defense options. In particular, we expanded our infrastructure to cope with the flow of traffic and protect other customers who were also affected by cyber-attacks.

Unfortunately, at that time we did not yet have global solutions suitable specifically for gambling platforms. Despite the fact that as a data center we could handle the load, the client’s infrastructure was vulnerable to DDOS attacks due to its weaknesses. The iGaming team tried to cope by their own efforts, they put filters themselves, asked us to install filters, but it was not enough. A global solution was required, but the company, which had just started its growth, did not have enough money to implement serious protection.

It is important to note that DDoS attacks are financed by certain entities and cannot continue indefinitely. Web site owners are aware of this and, on the one hand, introduce measures to minimize the risks associated with infrastructure unavailability, and on the other hand, try to provide reliable protection against DDoS. However, such protection is not always justified from an economic point of view. It is necessary to compare potential losses from attacks with the cost of protection. Sometimes the losses may be less than the cost of modernizing the infrastructure to prevent cyber-attacks. If your company is small, it’s worth doing the math.

Cloudflare integration to strengthen DDoS protection

In the initial stages of business development, our client apparently didn’t think it was worth investing in DDoS protection either. However, with the emergence of points of presence all around the world, a more serious and global defense for the entire IT infrastructure was required. We could only offer local German solutions, which did not fully meet the requirements, as they only protected one node in Frankfurt.

With the advent of financial opportunities, the client selected Cloudflare. This is a comprehensive protection against DDoS attacks, which is the optimal solution for the needs of online gambling. The provider is popular among gambling web sites not only because of its efficiency, but also because it provides accessibility in different regions. Cloudflare provides an array of tools including caching, geographic filters, Firewall and licenses, which makes it convenient and also allows gambling platforms to improve the quality of service.

In addition to dedicated servers, for added convenience we offered the client BYOIP service, which allows the client to use its own IP addresses within the cloud provider’s subnet. Now iGaming uses BYOIP on a permanent basis, and also rents IPv4 addresses from us, which are integrated with solutions to protect servers from DDoS attacks from Cloudflare.

Significant growth, global expansion and other benefits of working with CloudKleyer

In 2015, when we met the client, he had only one server rack, one license and two points of presence. During the period of cooperation, the company has shown remarkable growth and development. The scale of business has increased; iGaming has grown from a small company with modest resources into a large gambling empire with impressive turnover. The development was not limited to geographical expansion: the audience also grew significantly.

Consequently, the business now requires much more information resources, and a single data center in Frankfurt is not enough to house the critical core of the IT infrastructure. Now the nodes are located in different parts of the world, which increases the reliability, fault tolerance and security of the system.

Let’s summarize the results. During the eight-year partnership, the client was able to do accomplish the following:

  • improve performance and fundamentally upgrade IT infrastructure;
  • firmly occupy its niche and globally expand its presence at the international level;
  • switch to high-quality, expensive solutions such as Cloudflare;
  • significantly strengthen the team, including by hiring AWS experts.

Such achievements clearly confirm the serious progress of the business. But iGaming does not stop at what has been achieved, it continues to develop and increase its capacity. This year the company already has ambitious plans, in the realization of which CloudKleyer team will also take an active part.

Benefits of working with CloudKleyer

We are constantly interacting with our clients and listen attentively to their problems, follow changes in the market, study trends, familiarize ourselves with new technologies and products. As always, our clients’ interests come first, so as soon as the company has new goals and objectives, we promptly respond to the request, offering a flexible, modern, profitable solution adapted to the needs of the developing business.

Mutually beneficial synergy or How we develop together with our clients

The iGaming project has become a catalyst for our own progress. In an effort to meet our client’s ambitions, we are in a constant search for innovation: we develop new optimization options, upgrade hardware, and update resources.

Working with iGaming also led us to a lucrative contract with Cloudflare. After Cloudflare learned about the IPv4 addresses we provide to the company, they contacted our project manager and offered to exchange clients on a partnership basis. As part of this cooperation, we rent out IP addresses, and Cloudflare in turn provides network protection against DDoS attacks.

Your key to stability: let’s build a reliable IT infrastructure together

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