bet365 deploys Citrix Netscaler to reduce load on database

The technology has also allowed the betting giant to improve reliability

Online gaming giant bet365 has upgraded its Citrix Netscaler appliance to incorporate a new feature called Datastream, which has allowed the company to reduce the load on its database by twenty per cent.

bet365 is the world's largest online gambling site with over 2,000 staff and some 10 million customers using the website for live betting.

Neil Selby, bet365's head of networks and security, told Computerworld UK that the company has a 'huge SQL database' that covers over 100 different sports, which can create a volatile environment with a high volume of transactions with customers betting in real-time.

To reduce the load on the database, so that queries aren't sent every time a customer makes a bet on the website, bet365 introduced Netscaler seven years ago.

"One of the main drivers for introducing Netscaler was for integrated caching - the ability to resolve queries, or resolve data, without the need to load the database itself," said Selby.

"If you have got the same content being served to multiple customers repeatedly, rather than going through the database every time and asking for that information, it sits slightly close to the customer on the Netscaler appliance - it's cached there."

He added: "Although the Netscaler appliances aren't the cheapest boxes in the world, they are much cheaper than the monstrous SQL databases that sit in the back end. Anything we can do to reduce the load on the database is a good thing, because it means the boxes will live longer and serve us better for that period."

More recently, launching the project in May of last year and completing in October, bet365 upgraded its Netscaler appliance to incorporate the Datastream function. Datastream allows bet365 to optimise the loads that have to be sent to the database and is used in parallel to the caching tool.

"The optimised presentation of queries to the database works by holding open a stream for a longer period and carry out many more transactions than what was possible previously. So rather than opening a connection for a single transaction and closing it down, we can hold the connection open for longer to catch multiple transactions," said Selby.

"This has produced a significant increase in productivity and performance, which has resulted in a 20 fold decrease in connections."bet365 works with Citrix on its beta programme and was an early adopter of the Datastream technology. As a result Datastream was customised with a lot of input from the betting company, which made for a simple deployment, according to Selby.

Datastream has also aided bet365 with its uptime and reliability.

"Citrix also added the ability to failover between different nodes. Historically if we lost a node we would have to repoint all of our servers at a different node that was still functioning - this was the case for both technical failures and planned works that needed doing," said Selby.

"If we had an outage in the past it would last a significant amount of time, somewhere between one and six house. We have got a huge number of servers addressing the database, but now we are able to point at a virtual IP on the appliance in the event of an outage, and Netscaler addresses the available databases."

"If we now lose a node, it's a seamless failover. Reliability has been much improved."

In similar news, major online betting website, Sportingbet, is in the process of scrapping its polling architecture in favour of a push-based architecture, in a bid to reduce bandwidth and provide its customers with a better experience when gambling on live events.

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