Nick Nally outlines the growth of data services in Malta, and how Continent 8 Technologies has been a market-leader in this space
It has been nearly a decade since Malta announced itself to the e-gaming industry with the development of the Remote Gaming Regulations in 2004. At the time, Malta was the first country in the EU to regulate Remote Gaming and since then, it has experienced unprecedented growth in the online sector and in the number of licensees regulated.
Unprecedented Growth and Investment
Continent 8 Technologies made its first foray into the Malta marketplace in 2007 with a modest data centre footprint but since then we have experienced phenomenal growth with a six-fold increase in our footprint to date. In fact, at this moment in time, we are embarking upon our next instalment of racks to meet current requirements which we will have available in the coming months.
In addition to the expansion of co-location facilities, Continent 8 has been continuously and consistently bringing advanced, customer focussed products and services to the market in Malta such as enhanced DDoS protection, global MPLS service, fully-managed infrastructure, cloud backup services and managed networking products among others – all implemented and designed in response to our customers’ demands.
Network Infrastructure and Development
While many service providers could offer a similar set of products and offerings, what sets Continent 8 apart is its continued and significant investment in infrastructure. Our challenge when entering the Malta marketplace in 2007 was to build a network infrastructure and set of services on top that would deliver reliability, availability and uptime similar to that which our customers would experience in other European cities. This was no small task given the fact that islands, by their nature, often have smaller population centres and thus limited and costlier telecommunications and power options.
Upon entering the market, we immediately set about building a totally redundant and resilient private network into Malta utilising all of the available telecommunications systems into the country. This private network was fed back into our European network hubs in Milan, London and Paris where we access a multitude of networks including Tier-1 global internet backbones and in-country internet exchanges.
What has this meant for our customers?
- Since our entry into the market, our customers have experienced network uptime and availability greater than that provided by a single carrier solution – this is as a result of the fully redundant private network which provides enough capacity on all legs to meet our customer commitment levels and more, even in the event of link failures.
- Through this network we are able to offer better network SLAs by virtue of MPLS services into a matrix of other directly connected gaming and non-gaming jurisdictions including Milan, Paris, London, Dublin, Gibraltar, Guernsey, Isle of Man, Montreal and other locations such as the USA shortly. Continent 8 also has the ability to connect to remote locations to meet customer requirements delivering a fully managed end-to-end solution with predictable and reliable service levels.
- As a result of our extensive geographically diverse footprints, Continent 8 can offer a range of additional services to its customers including disaster recovery options, cloud backup and replication among others, all managed across one network and under one SLA.
- Response times between our customers and their end users from traditional European markets are generally better due to the fact that internet traffic enters via hubs in places such as London, Paris and Milan and there is a single hop onwards to Malta, thus avoiding the vagaries of the unpredictable public internet.
But this is only part of the story…….. we continue to invest in and develop innovative and focussed products and services to meet the needs of our expanding customer base throughout the gaming community.
DDoS Prevention Service
As everyone knows, the gaming market is particularly susceptible to Distributed Denial of Service attacks and these can sometimes cause irreparable damage to a customer’s reputation. Continent 8 has been providing DDoS protection services to the market for many years but two years ago, we made a significant investment in our Arbor Networks platform – Arbor Networks is the industry leading provider of network security and management services.
Continent8’s DDoS Protection Service provides a comprehensive level of attack detection, mitigation and analysis; deployed across all Continent 8 locations on a global basis, with the ability to monitor and mitigate traffic across multiple continents.
In Malta, Continent 8 is the only provider that manages its own DDoS platform. As alluded to earlier, due to the high cost of installing telecommunications infrastructure into Malta, capacity can be limited and in the case of large-scale DDoS attacks against a particular customer, it can have the effect of taking down an entire IP network. This is where Continent 8 leverages its global private network to lessen and remove this threat through a choice of alternate and diverse routes from which to choose from.
What does this mean for our customers?
- Large scale DDoS attacks are mitigated in our network hub cities elsewhere and ‘clean traffic’ is returned to our customers via our global private network into Malta.
- If a customer on another network in Malta is undergoing a DDoS attack and there is severe network degradation, Continent 8 customers are unaffected by virtue of the fact that their traffic is entering Malta across our global private network, not the public internet.
- Continent 8 can offer an end-to-end SLA for DDoS service since we own and operate our own platform which is supported by network teams in Montreal, the Isle of Man and our new Global Service Operation Centre in Dublin.
A One-Stop-Shop Partner
Since 2006 Continent 8 has embarked upon an ambitious and aggressive roll-out of new locations and facilities – all in response to customer demand. From our first data centre in Montreal, we have now added data centre offerings in 8 additional cities including Malta, Isle of Man, London, Paris, Gibraltar, Guernsey, Singapore and our most recent addition – Dublin. At this point in time, we are undergoing expansion projects in Malta, Gibraltar and the Isle of Man to meet growing demand.
In addition to the above, we have provided bespoke solutions in locations such as Belgium and Taiwan and are evaluating other locations such as British Columbia and Toronto in Canada, Milan, and Las Vegas and New Jersey in the USA.
Our customers can, therefore, avail of a single solution provider to meet their needs from a gaming perspective – whether that be to provide offerings in different primary markets in Europe or across the globe, to install disaster recovery or replication services or to have a low-cost front-end solution that links seamlessly across a global backbone to the back-end architecture.
There are many more exciting developments taking place within Continent 8 at the moment, both from a footprint and product perspective. We are very active in the US market at the moment with a view to servicing and supporting customer growth both from a European, Asian and US perspective. On the services side, we are in the process of launching a Cloud Backup Service and a Virtual Computing Service, details of which will be forthcoming. To support this growth, we are currently deploying a Global service Operation Centre at our Dublin location which will provide additional support to our teams around the globe. We hope to cover these topics in future articles but in the meantime, we will continue to invest in our people and our infrastructure – thereby delivering a better level of service to our customers.
Article appeared in eGR Malta Report, 2013