Listening is key to best-fit approach
The agreement with Sungard AS includes a dedicated hosting environment to support Inspired's primary production infrastructure in the Sungard AS Mississauga, Ontario data centre. The environment can accommodate up to 150 virtualised servers running Windows or Linux, plus significant storage capacity.
Data held in Microsoft SQL Server production databases is replicated to a recovery environment in the Sungard AS Markham, Ontario data centre, 30 miles away. Sungard AS uses VMware Site Recovery Manager (SRM) to manage failover and recovery and to meet its commitment for a 2-hour RTO and 30-minute RPO. "We're not used to buying services," says Wilson. "We are used to having access to the physical hardware — to do what we need to do, whenever we need to do it. So we initially had some concerns about being one step removed from it. But the Sungard AS team has been very responsive to our requirements, willing to jump in when we have an urgent request and collaborate with us on broader issues."
"It feels more like a partnership with the Sungard AS team rather than a service that we bought from them," he adds.
For the gaming servers, says Craig Banthorpe, IT project Manager at Inspired Entertainment. "That's not something a public cloud provider can do — they can't point a regulator to the device that generates the numbers, and that's the most important part of the gaming system."
Canadian regulators mandate that third-party laboratories review all gaming source code. "Over the 12 months that we've been working with Sungard AS, the first customers have been the regulators and auditors who issue the certificates that would later be accepted by Loto-Québec," says Banthorpe.
Meeting the requirements of regulators and auditors
Sungard AS has many customers in regulated industries and supports them when they face audits and inspections for industry and governmental certifications. For Inspired, regulators conduct inspections of the overall IT infrastructure to understand the protections in place to assure resiliency and security, as well as gaming-specific requirements.
"We can take a regulator into the Sungard AS data centre and show them the physical hardware for the gaming servers," says Craig Banthorpe, IT project Manager at Inspired Entertainment. "That's not something a public cloud provider can do — they can't point a regulator to the device that generates the numbers, and that's the most important part of the gaming system."
Releasing gaming products to highly regulated markets is a long and demanding process. With perseverance and help from the Sungard AS team, Inspired has achieved its initial milestones and is now live with Loto-Québec. "We've had the first few games live for several months, and recently went live with some scheduled virtual games," explains Banthorpe. "We are now working through the certification process with British Columbia."