Betfair puts its money on VMware’s stack ahead of Cisco’s UCS

By Sooraj Shah
27 Feb 2014 View Comments
betfair

Eighteen months ago, online gambling website Betfair decided to go with VMware's stack over Cisco's UCS (Unified Computing System) as it was the most "mature off-the-shelf product on the market at the time", according to Betfair CIO Michael Bischoff.

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In an interview with Computing, Bischoff explained that the firm decided to invest in "automation and orchestration", describing that as the "sweet spot".

"We invested in this model because I was grumpy about having to buy any more tin [kit]," he joked.

"To purchase additional x86 servers or networking or storage from any vendor was the wrong way of looking at it."

Instead, the firm focused its investment in manpower and licensing around automation and orchestration – two terms that he repeats often. This has enabled Betfair to deploy its workloads wherever it sees fit; from a private cloud to a hybrid public cloud.

"We haven't invested in massive server platforms or storage capabilities because we anticipated that this was coming," he said. "We have obsessed about orchestration and we did that because we believe this is the secret sauce to making this work; we didn't know at the time that VMware would be releasing [the vCloud Hybrid Service] but we knew we needed the ability to control those workloads and we also wanted to support our regulators by telling them where the data is."

But for Betfair, this wasn't about saving money, but agility.

"Many organisations confuse costs and agility of the public cloud," said Bischoff. "We wanted to address a particular need, which was to support our development arm to develop, test and deploy software as soon as possible – that was the business case. It was about agility and the ability to move incredibly quickly while maintaining a level of control, governance and compliance."

After selecting VMware, Betfair's IT team worked alongside its development team to understand what its use case requirements were; specifically, how it wanted to be able to use Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS).

"We picked up a few different use cases which we delivered pretty quickly but then what became apparent to us was that it wasn't just about IaaS; that's the easy bit," said Bischoff. "It was about deploying apps, databases, data and that's where we've spent most of our time in blueprinting the estate using [VMware cloud management tool] vCloud Automation Center (vCAC), and that's really where we see the power: one-click-ability to deploy entire working environments – not just infrastructure – all the way through to applications."

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