iNTERGAMINGi: At the cutting edge

Our Chief Data Officer Anthony Abou-Jaoude features in the latest edition of iNTERGAMINGi, discussing why Continent 8 is in a unique position when it comes to data.

What role did data play in the launch of your Gaming Exchange?

Data was the foundation for the Gaming Exchange. Continent 8 has been serving the global online gaming industry for more than two decades and that puts us in a unique position when it comes to the data that we host, manage and secure on behalf of our customers.

The industry is made up of hundreds of operators, suppliers and partners, a lot of which are talking to each other daily in terms of traffic and data. But customers wouldn’t have visibility of the traffic flows from a B2B or partner perspective, and that is why we launched our innovative Gaming Exchange and Premium Portal.

It is a powerful private internet and exclusive community exchange for iGaming businesses. It allows them to connect faster and more securely than via the standard internet, with no need for additional configuration. It means Continent 8 customers can connect directly to other Continent 8 customers via an MPLS Layer 3 VPN across our private backbone network rather than route over the public internet. It offers the lowest latency and the highest levels of performance guaranteed with both local and remote reachability. What’s more, it is private and reliable with public IPv4 addressing and an uptime rate in excess of 99.9%.

How does the Premium Portal work alongside the Gaming Exchange?

Our customer portal is one of our unique selling points as it provides our customers with access to all the key metrics, stats and data for the services that we are providing to them. The Premium Portal is an extension of this, available to all customers who join the Gaming Exchange. It is an analytical dashboard that allows users to view and monitor traffic flows within and outside of Continent 8 to other gaming partners. This includes a dynamic map overview for all connectivity between sites and data flows and direction of traffic.

This information can support customers in identifying better or more efficient connectivity service use or even identifying unexpected data flows to unknown destinations. Examples would be moving from public internet traffic use to private Cloud Connect or MPLS services dedicated to connecting customers to partners or hyperscale cloud implementations.

Ultimately, we develop innovations such as this to ensure that we not only meet but exceed customer expectations and that is why we are the leading provider of managed hosting, connectivity, cloud and security solutions to iGaming businesses around the world.

Just how important is data analytics and what solutions do you offer to help customers understand the huge volumes of data they generate and have access to? 

Our data transformation started with us trying to solve our own challenges with the rapid growth that we have been experiencing in recent years. A year ago, we formed a data analytics team, designed to better manage our capacity management, monitoring and problem detection.

Furthermore, we enabled data democratisation which made it possible for data to be shared across the organisation rather than being held within individual business units. As a result, more people across the organisation can use data to improve their work. They can work faster and be more productive, and they don’t need to check in with other staff to get their work done.

In solving our own problems, we realised that this transformation could benefit our customers greatly, so we are also in the early phases of implementing a fully-fledged API to provide our customers with more access to data via an industry-standard way of accessing it.

For those not in the know, could you explain data hosting in finer detail?

Data hosting is the provision of hardware, systems, software and infrastructure required to store and access management of data. There are different types of data hosting from managed to co-location and cloud. Each business (and market you operate in) has its own unique requirements when it comes to data hosting, and we work closely with our customers to build bespoke solutions that meet their specific needs. In recent years, we have seen a shift towards companies using the cloud to host their data, allowing them to unlock the tremendous benefits it offers.

Take our Public Cloud solution as an example, available in multiple iGaming markets such as Atlantic City, Isle of Man, Colombia, and Gibraltar to name a few. Customers have the ability to scale bandwidth up and down in line with demand. Another significant upside to the cloud is that it eliminates the need for ongoing hardware investment, providing flexibility to pay for resources as required. Continent 8 fully manages the Cloud environment by up to and including the Hypervisor, whilst enabling customers to have complete control and management of their internal systems and data. This removes the need for customers to maintain and support the infrastructure and instead focus on running their business.

Many players are rightfully concerned about how their data is stored and released. What security measures does your company take to ensure a player’s online safety?

We have more than 20 years of experience protecting data in the online gaming space. Our knowledge tells us that organisations, in terms of data security, should take a layered approach.

There is a range of solutions this should include: DDoS, WAAP, Endpoint Protection and Security Information and Event Management (SIEM). We recently enhanced our Secure offering with Managed Threat Detection & Response solutions. This is a complete end-to-end proactive threat solution combining advanced SIEM/EDR/SOAR/ML technologies with proven 24/7 SOC resources.  This gives businesses and organisations unprecedented visibility and response capabilities against known and unknown threats at a time when cybercriminals are really upping the ante. This in turn allows our operator customers to reassure their players that their data is being stored to the highest possible standards.

How has regulation influenced your company?

Regulation is hugely complex, but it is vital that we understand the requirements in each of the markets we offer our products and solutions. We also have a first-to-market approach, so we have to make sure that we are part of the discussions from day one and use our experience and expertise to help regulators when it comes to creating their frameworks and specifically in relation to infrastructure, hosting, connectivity and security. By working hand in hand with policymakers, Continent 8 has emerged as the provider of choice for some of the biggest gambling operators in the world and in fast-growth markets such as the US, Latin America and Canada. This approach also ensures we remain ahead of our rivals.

Take our Atlantic City data centre as an example. Launched in 2019 and housed within the landmark Atlantic City Convention Centre, it is the only data site in the state that has been purpose-built for the online gambling industry. It is fully compliant with DGE regulations and is the only independent, licensed facility that can house gaming infrastructure outside of a licensed casino. We are completing stage three expansion of the site, adding 30% capacity. We also recently became the first provider to launch a regulated Gaming Cloud in the state of Pennsylvania.

The terms ‘big data’ and ‘analytics’ are certainly buzzwords in the igaming sector. Could you explain their importance in terms of how your company utilises them and their influence on the industry in general?

Data and ‘big data’, and the ability to effectively analyse the huge volumes of information that iGaming businesses generate, are key success factors for any operator or supplier. Data allows companies to make decisions based on facts, whether that be for personalisation and demographic profiling, game development, tailored marketing, or responsible gaming programs.

But to do that they need to be able to collect, store and effectively analyse the information in front of them. They also need to be able to do this securely. Continent 8 has been at the cutting-edge of big data in the iGaming industry for more than 20 years now, and that puts us in a unique position and is why we are the partner of choice for some of the biggest businesses in the sector.

Source: iNTERGAMINGi – Issue 4

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