Most Kiwis only think of Lotto NZ for five minutes on a Saturday night.
However, for Lotto’s General Manager Technology Brett Cross, the $1 billion business is a round-the-clock operation, supporting New Zealand’s biggest network of retail outlets.
“Most people think of us as a lottery business,” Cross says. “But really we’re a data operation, with one of the biggest networks in the country.”
According to Cross, it’s not just ticket purchase data and those winning numbers that need to be communicated across Lotto’s 1,300 nationwide locations.
Finance, corporate and management data, plus regular backups, mean Lotto’s network is very much at the heart of everything its 125-strong team does.
“Vectors Communications deliver a high performance, high availability network for Lotto NZ, so nothing is left to chance,” Cross adds.
When the time came to vacate the Auckland offices the company had occupied since 1987 and move down the road from Khyber Pass to Newmarket, network reliability and continuity of service were very much top of mind.
“Not only that, but the move brought with it a new approach to data management,” Cross explains.
Previously, Lotto’s servers had been on site - literally through a door from the IT team - but Cross and his team decided to move to a remote solution.
“Running the business on a data centre in Albany, with a backup in East Tamaki, meant valuable city real estate could be put to the best possible use – creating a great workplace for staff instead of using space on server rooms.”
Cross says it was by far the biggest IT project the business had undertaken since it started almost 30 years ago.
“Lotto NZ was looking for an iron-clad solution, with no nasty surprises along the way,” he adds.
“Our first surprise, though, was the response from the telcos. What we wanted didn’t fit into their off-the-shelf products, so we were basically told it couldn’t be done.
“Luckily, Vector Communications was a different story. I liked that we were dealing with engineers, not just sales people. When one of them promised something, I knew he was the one who would have to make it happen.”
For Cross, Vector’s background in large-scale critical infrastructure helped too.
“Vector’s run big networks for years, and that experience showed,” he adds.
“Right from the RFP stage the Vector Communications team was looking beyond what we thought the requirement was and thinking about the best way to solve our business issue.”
With the new network in place and the Newmarket office up and running, Cross says the transformation has been huge.
“We don’t know ourselves,” he adds. “Vector’s Managed Wavelength solution means we have all sorts of different business data moving around the network at up to 8Gbps with very low latency.”
To connect Lotto NZ’s Newmarket office to its Albany (primary) and East Tamaki (disaster recovery) data centres, Cross says Vector Communications designed and built a high performance network for Lotto NZ.
“The network is built on Vector Communications’ own Managed Wavelength fibre network and delivers carrier grade reliability,” he explains.
“Vector Communications’ Managed Wavelength solution means Lotto is able to prioritise traffic across its network themselves, ensuring the most important data always travels with minimum latency.
“Lotto can easily scale the network quickly with higher bandwidths or add new data centres.”
Also, Cross says network resilience is provided by physical and logical diversity between key locations including geographically diverse fibre between data centres via the Harbour Bridge and west via Greenhithe.