Online betting exchange Betfair has implemented VMware's vCloud as its attempts to redefine its IT department as a 'service broker', delivering virtualised environments to its development team through software defined data centre tools.
Betfair has around 1,800 staff, including a large community of developers using the agile development process to support the delivery of betting services through bespoke Java and Apache-based web, mobile and tablet platforms. Betfair also allows external developers to produce their own connected software through its App Cloud API system.
After joining the firm 18 months ago, Betfair's head of IS architecture and strategy, Lee James, looked at ways to improve the IT department's ability to meet the developer team's needs, with growing demands for service delivery to extend past the provision of virtual machines through its Citrix Xen infrastructure.
"We saw the need for us to turn ourselves into what we classed as a 'service broker', with a need to start delivering templates of service back to our customers, rather than individual virtual machines," James told Computerworld UK at VMware Forum 2013 at Wembley Stadium.
He added: "A developer doesn't just want a virtual machine, they want it connected to the right networks, they want it to mimic production, they want a firewall and the loadbalancing and all the intricacies of a production environment-like state, and to then be able to test against it."
James said that the use of Xen had helped give Betfair the agility it needed as a start up company in 2000, but did not allow it to expand its service delivery with provisioning and management tools.
"Obviously as a start up company time to market was key. Projects and tooling which enabled [Betfair] to do that - especially ones that were open source or free, and Xen was a big proponent of that - drove the business forward significantly."
"The gap that we saw is the fact that the management software, the provisioning software - and the software defined data centre as VMware like to call it - simply just isn't there in the product suite of Xen, or any of the other hypervisor capability today. So that was our reason to move over to VMware, simply because of its maturity and what it can offer."
Betfair began with implementing VMware's vShape and ESX virtualisation tools on its 20-30 Dell servers a year ago, beginning the process of replacing its Citrix Xen solution.
Following this, Betfair implemented VMware's vCloud Suite 5.1as part of a 'soft launch' in January, before going fully live with the system around two weeks ago. The firm also looked to Saas provider ServiceNow as it sought to enable developers to deploy complete environments through self service tools linked directly to vCloud.
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