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​Spark takes $2.7 billion sports betting business to the cloud

​Spark takes $2.7 billion sports betting business to the cloud

New Zealand Racing Board undertakes one of the largest IT changes in 30 years.

Spark has completed the major phase of a two-part data centre migration, taking more than $2.7 billion worth of racing and sports betting business to the cloud.

Capping two years of partnership with the New Zealand Racing Board, the completion represents one of the largest IT changes in 30 years for the industry leader, as it embarks on an ambitious new business strategy in growth areas such as Fixed Odds Betting.

Designed to provide secure, resilient, scalable platforms, the migration was completed overnight on December 12, 2016.

The two businesses came together in late 2014, with Spark brought on to guide the racing and betting business to redesign and modernise its ICT set-up, as well as to provide outsourced networking, cloud computing, security and IT service management via its data centres at Auckland’s Takanini and Revera’s Trentham sites.

Responsible for processing more than 1.2 billion bets, each contributing to $2.7 billion in financial turnover annually, the success of the project hinged on its ability to ensure NZRB’s wagering platform Jetbet was faultlessly migrated to its new home at Spark’s data centres.

“Jetbet was at risk every day in its former home in Petone as our data centre fast became no longer fit for purpose,” NZRB CEO, John Allen, said.

“This concern was further heightened by recent earthquakes affecting our region. If a major disaster were to occur, it was likely our current data centre would fail, all corporate and wagering systems would be down and the impact to our industry and our customers would be significant, even if just for a short time.”

Allen said the project saw a team of Spark transition experts become virtual members of the NZRB team, moving into NZRB’s Wellington offices located in Petone, and working through the requirements of the wholesale changeover together with internal staff.

(L-R) - New Zealand Racing Board CEO John Allen; Spark’s Takanini data centre
(L-R) - New Zealand Racing Board CEO John Allen; Spark’s Takanini data centre

“It’s important to credit the combined team’s close relationship in delivering the migration activity almost seamlessly,” added Allen, who said the project was spearheaded by former general manager of technology, Colin Philp.

“Having capably weathered a few challenges along the way, this demonstrates how effective the partnership has been between the two organisations.”

Additionally, the transfer of NZRB’s main systems to Spark’s Revera cloud platforms ensures that capacity can be “safely dialled-up or down” for the busiest race days, such as the Melbourne Cup and other major sporting events.

For Allen, the move is set to be a key tool in delivering NZRB’s growth strategy in the years ahead.

“The growth of Fixed Odds Betting isn’t slowing and our (often international) competitors are offering around 100,000 options compared to our 2,500 each day,” he added.

By removing the complex ICT environment from day-to-day operations, Allen said the NZRB is now free to focus on gaining a greater understanding of customers’ needs.

“This a fantastic example of how the cloud can be used to support seasonal business,” Spark general manager of central government, Robin Hartendorp, added.

“As we can all appreciate, the demands on our betting industry services are enormous during days like the Melbourne Cup when everyone wants a piece of the action.

“As customers like NZRB seek to find the optimal run state for their work loads, Spark through its ability to aggregate and manage hybrid cloud supply, is able to meet the constant technology and capacity changes that modern digital environments require.”


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