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What’s new in the cloud? An expert’s view

Scott Hanson, Technical Director, ArdentaScott Hanson, technical director at Ardenta, updates eGaming Review on the firm’s approach to cloud technology and offers his view on emerging industry trends

eGaming Review (eGR): Since you last spoke to us in October of last year, how has the prevalence and sophistication of cloud technology developed in the egaming industry?

Scott Hanson (SH): I think there has been a realisation that adopting cloud solutions requires a different skill set within the business and this is set to continue to change. There are predictions that 40% of datacentres will be outsourced by 2019, this means the skills required within an in-house team are changing radically. Staying entirely self-sufficient, and not relying on any outsourced skill, is a challenge if you want to stay ahead of the curve and future proof your infrastructure.

eGR: What are the key compliance challenges associated with the use of cloud technology in the jurisdictions that you operate in?

SH: The top challenge is really that requirements change all the time and keeping on top of the changes is an issue. There are also compliance challenges that impact other sectors/geographies, not to mention high-profile breaches, which have a tendency to have an impact.

These challenges don’t alone tend to become impediments to using cloud services, but rather:

1. Lack of cloud strategy and governance – It is extremely important to take a consultative approach with a specialist supplier, making sure you’re working with someone you trust.

2. Concerns over technology evolution – Future-proofing is a concern for all operators, and this is the same in industries where the pace of change is nowhere near that of egaming. The idea that the technology will be unfit in a year or two, or that they will be locked down into contracts for lengthy periods, are real concerns. Ultimately, we all want to predict future events and be able to plan our investment so that IT is able to exceed the expectations of the business and deliver on the business’ long-term objectives.

3. Lack of clarity regarding business benefits – yes, unbelievably, but unless you invite your service provider to share your strategy and to have a conversation about benefits specific to you, you’re never going to know.

4. Data security concerns – there really is no need for this; see below.

eGR: How does Ardenta look to overcome the data-security issues associated with cloud technology?

SH: Ours is a UK-based private cloud that is built with PCI DSS in mind and ISO 27001 accredited. These two Tier IV datacentres are fully equipped to state-of-the-art standards. They are fully resilient with comprehensive fire detection systems, environmental control monitored by sensors, resilient internet access and built-in DDoS mitigation, security and compliance monitoring that can be built into the service, extensive reporting on the security of your environment, as well as backup and disaster recovery options.

Every compliance professional is following the impact of the Safe Harbour ruling closely and some European cloud service providers believe that their geographical position is what makes them unique. I think matters such as being able to contact your provider directly, should things go wrong, carry a lot more weight, as we all want to deal with people we like and trust. We’ve offered cloud services to the egaming sector for about 10 years now and have built a lot of great relationships in that time.

eGR: Moving into 2016, what are the key industry trends you can see emerging? What can we expect to see from Ardenta in response to these trends?

SH: We’re constantly working to improve our speed to market and are doing this through further network orchestration and automation. This translates as self-service provisioning for our clients, creating a self-service portal for spinning up cloud environments for testing, staging and development.

Innovative service providers can offer ways in which different cloud services can be cross connected for speed. We are currently connecting our customers to large cloud ecosystems. This adds value to customers who are already in the cloud and consuming other cloud services, connecting our cloud services to these existing services. Our customers can connect directly to the cloud without going via public internet connections. We’ll be offering our customers the ability to bypass the internet and connect to leading cloud service providers for almost any business application.

The DevOps philosophy of ‘fail fast’ needs to be supported. We’re constantly testing new technologies and bringing the best ones to our clients. It’s therefore important for us to leverage the close relationships we have with technology vendors, so we are the first to test new technologies that will benefit our clients.

Scott Hanson has designed and implemented infrastructure that support major UK and global egaming operators, and as technical director and co-founder of Ardenta has more than 20 years’ experience of enterprise IT services designed specifically for egaming. His specialisms are high-resilience infrastructures for high-volume, competitive transactional websites with particular focus on egaming.

*Originally published in the January 2016 print issue of eGaming Review



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