Richard Ebbutt, head of marketing at Continent 8 Technologies, examines the rationale behind the company’s global network – and how it meets the sector’s geographical needs
Before we look forward at how technology is keeping up with and navigating the regulatory minefield it is worth taking a brief look at where we have come from.
Back when online gaming was in its infancy there were a limited number of countries or regions where one could apply for an online gaming licence in order to gain access to the global market.
After all, the internet is supposed to be a borderless entity. Incidentally, this is the concept behind Continent 8’s name – the internet being the virtual eighth continent of the world. In the early days online gaming, jurisdictions such as Alderney, Antigua, Curaçao, Gibraltar, Isle of Man, Kahnawake and Malta serviced the emerging and largely grey market.
At the time, typically, online gaming companies would position their infrastructure in the location that best suited their business needs, be those needs geographical, legislative, tax-based, etc.
Coupled with that, there was no question that all of their infrastructure would then be sited in a single location – legislation aside, it was simply too cost prohibitive to do anything else.
Since those early days the online gaming landscape has evolved significantly. More and more countries are legislating, usually around taxation benefits, but each with their own ideas, approach and agenda. What this has created is a fragmented landscape which the companies need to navigate.
Some jurisdictions have brought in legislation that benefitted both the player and the providers, however at the other end of the scale we have seen legislation become prohibitively restrictive, resulting in operators withdrawing their services.
Getting closer to the customer
We would like to think that the online gaming operators are moving their infrastructure to get closer to the end user but this is probably happing more by default than design. In most business verticals the architecture of data centres and network infrastructure continues to undergo major transformation, driven largely by mobility and accelerated by the so-called “internet of things”.
At a high level, rather than seeing the need for all an enterprise’s servers in a single data centre in a central location, more enterprises are seeking out distributed servers across multiple data centres, very close to the edge – ultimately, closer to their customers.
However, what we are seeing in online gaming are the operators also having to react to new legislation. They are having to make infrastructure decisions based on what each newly regulated jurisdiction has written into its laws. This leaves the operators with little breathing space and time to look at the wider picture. It is a very fragmented approach but, until the legislators understand the implications, it is a trend we will continue to see.
Continent 8 is able to offer solutions to online gaming companies by having expanded both our data centre footprint and network to join up many of these locations. Where necessary we have opened new data centres to comply with local legislation or have provided connectivity solutions into locations so that data and games can be easily delivered.
For Continent 8 it isn’t just about the networking the existing jurisdictions but establishing a future-proof network to serve a dynamic global industry and support its rapid growth.
A truly global network for i-gaming’s future
The latest network expansion sees services now spread across the Americas, Europe and Asia with the newest development linking the Asia Pacific region diversely back to Europe and directly to the US via a new, dedicated presence in Los Angeles, California.
As a result, by taking our global locations count to total to 25 (and growing), we are now able to send data literally on a lap around the world on our network, boasting a lap-time of fewer than 300 milliseconds.
What this means for the operators and other service providers is that they can get content delivered closer to the customer base without having to move whole platforms.
Aside from network coverage, the benefits of such a quantity of geographically diverse network locations with such high capacities are vast. These include enhanced distributed-denial-of-service attack mitigation capability, with a key DDoS mitigation node at the centre of the three continents – Europe, Asia and North America.
Perhaps though, one of the biggest security benefits of the global network is the opportunity to move critical data between locations, providers, territories and continents in an entirely privately, secure way and away from the threats of hack or external attacks.
In fact, the very same network can be used for operators to “talk” securely to their providers, to their affiliates, to their payment processors, to regulators and so on. It’s now a global asset that can be leveraged by the industry, as a community.
So while the global regulatory landscape may continue to be complex, changing and with ever-increasing threats, it’s clear that many of these challenges are being mitigated by Continent 8 through continued growth, innovation and deep understanding of the market’s needs.
Article appeared in iNTERGAMINGi – Issue 2, 2017