This article originally appeared in iGaming magazine, July 2016
Pierre Le Marre, Data Centre Account Director at Sure International explains how Alderney has remained a leader in iGaming for over 16 years.
As unlikely world-leading jurisdictions go, Alderney should be somewhere near the top of the list. A population of 2000 people inhabiting an island of just 8 square kilometres will find it hard to be a leader in most fields but, against all the odds, it has done just that in iGaming, and today boasts a globally respected regulatory regime that has licensed hundreds of popular eGambling websites.
Arguably, the key to Alderney’s success is its history as an eGambling jurisdiction, having been licensing Internet gaming operators since the turn of the Millennium. During that time, it has built up a great deal of expertise in the regulatory and social elements of the sector and has grown to understand the needs, aspirations and limitations of operators that do business on a global level.
A crucial element of Alderney’s regulatory appeal lies in its independence, which applies not only to its eGambling laws but also to data protection. An operator regulated by the Alderney Gambling Commission (AGC) and using servers in the larger neighbouring island of Guernsey, is subject to Guernsey’s data protection laws. Whilst these are the equal of those found in the EU, in terms of expectations and obligations, they are subject to interpretation solely by the island courts, which gives both operators and customers an excellent level of certainty about the status of their data.
In the last couple of years, Alderney has also shown itself to be a jurisdiction that understands the need for flexibility in terms of the services and operations that it regulates. The creation and issuing of licences for the provision of Cloud services is a clear example of this, showing that the Commission is vigilant in its monitoring of new technologies that can benefit operators.
Sure has been an early beneficiary of these new licensing opportunities, having been awarded a Cloud services hosting license that runs alongside its existing permits.
As with most Cloud applications, when it comes to data hosting, the Cloud offers far greater flexibility than the standard model. It also has the potential to make operating efficiencies and gives increased certainty over start-up and hosting costs. Capex is reduced because operators are outsourcing infrastructure build, maintenance and growth to a trusted and experienced third party, whilst opex becomes more predictable.
Alongside the well understood financial benefits of a transfer into the Cloud, services including 24/7/365 security monitoring, DDoS protection and on-demand burstability mean that hosting in the Cloud can also provide a more stable environment for operators. One that is capable of meeting the less-predictable demands created by offers, promotions, popular sporting events and holiday periods.
Of course, burstable services have long been a feature of data centres offering the traditional hosting model whereby the operator installs their own equipment in the facility. It has however, been limited to burstable bandwidth rather than the ability to increase or decrease computing power as demand requires.
By using Cloud services, computing power (in terms of memory and processing) can be shared across servers, thus ensuring that they are capable of meeting client demand and therefore delivering a more robust system that does not disappoint players.
Just as flexibility has helped the AGC develop a global reputation, so the flexibility of Cloud services is helping the model gain traction across all business sectors. There is rarely one best way to provide a service from the Cloud and this is as true for burstable computing as it is for other facilities.
There are two proven systems for the Cloud provision of computing power: the allocation model and the reservation model. Sure International offers both, so clients are able to decide for themselves which will work better for them.
In the allocation model, a set amount of RAM is allocated to each server whilst processing power is shared across them all. The downside is that if a server is not using its allocation, then it cannot be shared and so there is a tendency to overprovision processing power to ensure enough is available. On the upside, the allocation model tends to cost less whilst still delivering a strong level of flexibility.
The alternative reservation model has greater flexibility because computing power and RAM are pooled completely, with each server taking from the pool as it needs. You can prioritise servers for periods of peak demand but the cost tends to be higher.
The very nature of the technology provides synergies between co-location and Cloud services, allowing the inclusion of Online Backup and RaaS to be in different locations whilst remaining part of the hybrid data centre infrastructure/network. In order to remain competitive Co-location operators must ensure that they can deliver on all of these initiatives so that as they evolve, their clients grow with them.
There’s no doubt that Alderney’s regulatory regime and the Cloud service model are able to deliver for multi-jurisdictional gaming operators. Both the Cloud infrastructure and the licensing regime are transferrable which means you don’t have to double-up on either in order to operate across geographies, giving operators who choose this small island, the ability to serve customers effectively and the opportunity to become a truly global business.