Virtualisation favourite for Betfair's server handicap

Online bookmaker Betfair has contracted ControlCircle to provide data centre space and collocation services as the self-styled 'sports exchange' commences virtualisation trials for its critical IT systems.

With more than a 1 million registered customers, 433,000 of who are active, Betfair handles more than 300 bets a second, and 5 million transactions each day. It has taken around 1,000 man years to build the Java-written bespoke exchange, and an investment of some $150 million, the company claims.

Betfair’s goal is to provision new virtual machines, and to allocate capacity to support specific events for example, or allow applications and services.

“In the past, every time we launched a new application, new physical hardware would be deployed,” says Nick Laflin, Betfair's utility computing programme manager. “Datacentres are often notoriously under-utilised, with some server resources remaining idle for 85 per cent of the time. This is due to over provisioning where more hardware is bought to handle peak traffic demand.”

Laflin adds: “The old model was like an arms race. As new applications were launched, it meant more and more physical hardware and more and more data centre space - and more and more cost. Given Betfair’s exponential growth, this is not sustainable. Virtualisation will allow us to sweat assets, and increase efficiency.”

ControlCircle is providing space at Global Switch London II to facilitate these test projects. Betfair will be provided initially with seven racks for a test environment (four for networking technology, three for servers), cabling and installation services, and connectivity to other Betfair infrastructure also located within Global Switch London II.

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