Nested Virtualization Solution Saves Time & Money

By Ariella Brown Print this article Print
Nested Virtualization

Online gaming company 888 Holdings deploys a nested virtualization solution that operates on a pay-per-use basis, making it both economical and efficient.

In the past few years, 888 Holdings—one of the largest online gaming companies in the world and the largest one for legal online gambling in the United States—has grown rapidly and expanded into new product lines and markets. The Israel-based company delivers casino games, poker, bingo and sports betting to computers and mobile devices.

To meet the demands of more than 20 million subscribers in Europe and the U.S., 888 Holdings relies on cloud services. It also uses a nesting virtualization solution, which provides flexibility and rapid replication of environments.

CIO Eran Elbaz explains that his organization has to reconfigure and test its own applications, while also conforming to regulations in different jurisdictions. Keeping up with the modifications and testing needed for each application and jurisdiction was a challenge—particularly when 888 Holdings moved into three different U.S. states in the same year, while also keeping up with the changes demanded by the European markets.

Online gambling is illegal in most of the U.S., but it's allowed in Delaware, Nevada and New Jersey. However, each state has its own regulations, and legal gambling sites have to comply with all of them. Consequently, to penetrate the U.S. market, 888 had to develop testing environments for all three states.

Even when it's already entrenched in a market, as the company is in Europe, 888 has to make changes whenever requirements are modified. In the past two years in Europe, Elbaz reports, there have been frequent changes related to increasing concerns over customer data and for assurance of tax revenue.

Keeping Up With Testing Environments

To keep up with the increasing number of testing environments, the company implemented nested virtualization from Ravello Systems. The solution offers a virtual lab to effectively replicate the complex environment of 888's applications on AWS. The result is accelerated time-to-market releases and the ability to move the system into a public cloud.

The testing environment is necessary both for new development and for regulators to certify their service. As Elbaz explains, the company's testing environment consists of "two or three hundred servers running applications." Ravello's nested virtualization creates "a capsule that allows all applications to run on any cloud service they support."

In contrast to the capsule setup, testing on other cloud environments would require modifications for each cloud's specifications, and an application developed for a particular cloud wouldn't work in another one. The nested virtualization solution allows 888 to move the application from one cloud service to another, which means it is not being locked into one service.

That's the main advantage, according to Elbaz, who explains that they get to work out "complex services and applications" that easily integrate into the cloud services of their choice.

The second advantage is the ability to replicate environments very rapidly. Before they had the nested virtualization solution, Elbaz says, it took from a few weeks to a couple of months to create a test environment. Plugging in Ravello allows the environment to be replicated within a day or just a few hours.

In addition to saving time, 888 Holdings saves money, as the nested virtualization solution operates on a pay-per-use basis, so the company is not charged for what it doesn't use. That, according to Elbaz, makes the system both economical and efficient.

This article was originally published on 2015-11-26

As a technology writer, Ariella Brown, a Baseline contributor, has covered 3D printing, analytics, big data, digital currency, cloud computing, green technology, marketing, and social media.

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