Peter Williams, director of global sales at Continent 8 Technologies discusses the key technology factors that made it possible for Continent 8 and its competitors to grow alongside alternative service providers in sectors such as legal, financial and hospitality in Malta.
All associated sectors benefit from the success egaming brings to Malta which forms approximately 12% of the GDP. However, without a solid infrastructure in terms of power, network and technical support services none of this would be possible.
Through the construction of the Continent 8’s Kahnawake data centre (Montreal) in 1997, Continent 8 brought the first stable hosting option to the egaming sector at a time when traditional egaming entrants served their clients from secondary telecommunications environments, generally on remote islands or locations.
Egaming operators for the first time had an option to avail of a hosting location in the heart of North America, and with access to reliable power and fibre optics. This facilitated something that was at that time new to the egaming sector: guaranteed availability of web site connectivity and service level agreements similar to those offered in any other vertical. It’s this expertise and knowledge that Continent 8 has built on to replicate this stability in all the locations it operates from. Malta is one of our key locations and we continue to invest in all aspects of services to support what we see as one of the core egaming locations going forward.
Malta is one of the main locations for any operator to secure an egaming license in, thanks to its compliance with EU and other regulated markets, as can be measured by the quantity of licences currently trading, and pending applications. It remains one of the few locations where an egaming operator can target all chosen markets, and meet all compliance criteria set out by the growing number of regulated markets in the EU and beyond, and backed by a supportive and innovative regulatory framework.
Operators today only too often take service availability for granted, but this is not something that is easily provided in remote locations. Continent 8 looks at some of these key factors supporting the egaming industry’s success in Malta.
Traditional ISP providers are available in Malta, but internet access is not something that can be controlled in terms of service levels, it’s the internet. Continent 8 approaches its service provision slightly differently to its competitors. In every location we offer hosting services we don’t rely on any local ISP services to connect our clients to the internet. We built a private redundant network which connects Malta on multiple diverse paths to our European and North American hubs, all of which form a global network available in three continents. In the case of Malta we connect to our London, Paris and Milan network hubs. Malta now offers a choice of three off-island fibre links and Continent 8 takes capacity on all three providing added levels of redundancy.
DDoS (distributed denial of service) mitigation services
Apart from the reliability of the network, there is one other key advantage to controlling service levels, peering with Tier 1 internet service providers in Europe and North America, and adequate capacity. That is to have the ability to contain and mitigate DDoS attacks.
For those unfamiliar with DDoS it is, in simple terms, an attack from a single, or multiple sources, creating a flood of what appears to be normal traffic to an operator web site of such a magnitude that it renders the web site inaccessible. Volumetric attacks were traditionally the standard but attacks are now far more intelligent and can come in many forms. Attackers usually seek compensation in the form of a ransom note before retreating when the attack is either mitigated, or the ransom is paid. The greatest problem for an operator is, once the attacker is aware of the site vulnerability, they will just keep coming back.
Continent 8 differentiates itself from other local providers through its globally distributed network. In simple terms, we can intercept a DDoS attack globally, mitigate the majority of the bad traffic in locations of high internet capacity, such as Milan, Paris, London and New York, and prevent the traffic from even reaching Malta, not to mention the client. The size of attacks has now grown to such a magnitude that many single attacks are greater than the network capacity of almost any off-shore location. Unfortunately, when a DDoS attack of high magnitude does manage to hit a location such as Malta, it is not only the target that suffers, the entire network is compromised which means any client using the same provider can suffer degradation.
It is in these areas that Continent 8 has made significant investment more than doubling our global network capacity and continuously adding more and more highly skilled personnel to our EMEA and North American 24 /7 network operation centres. We can now provide DDoS mitigation services to any client irrespective of location or hosting provider and partners with Arbor, the global leader in DDoS mitigation technology.
Continent 8 to open second Malta base
Not only has Continent 8 opened new data centre locations globally this year, such as London and New Jersey, we are pleased to announce the opening of a second location locally in Malta in Q3 of 2015 as we are reaching capacity at our current location in Handaq. We are also seeing a growing number of clients wishing to have redundancy or distributed architectures locally in Malta. Regulatory developments in Europe have been supportive of Malta as a gaming hub and we see little evidence of any re-location of gaming companies following this, in fact quite the opposite appears to be happening. The success of egaming in Malta is also made possible by a solid regulatory and financial framework and we had no hesitation in reinvesting to support this growing sector.
Having worked with the gaming operators almost since the birth of online gaming, Continent 8 has consistently recommended an effective disaster recovery policy to cover infrastructure and license. Disaster recovery is not just about network and infrastructure, It’s also about a financial framework and regulatory support model where an operator can run all aspects of their business in an alternative location in the event of a loss of the primary jurisdiction. Although Malta is one of the most attractive locations for licensing and operating a primary egaming operation, it can readily act as an effective disaster recovery location for infrastructure, financial support, gaming regulation and all components necessary to support any globally based operator, and all compliant with all global gaming requirements imposed by regulators in any location.
We look forward to many years of growth and stability in Malta and we continue to invest in all aspects of our service delivery, and work closely with the Maltese regulator and government to protect and promote the egaming sector.
Article appeared in the eGR Malta Report, 2015