Rackspace Devops powering ARL, NRL and A-League fantasy sports leagues

Rackspace Devops powering ARL, NRL and A-League fantasy sports leagues

Fanhub fantasy sports now powered by Rackspace Cloud and DevOps


Fanhub has taken advantage of Rackspace DevOps to boost its Cloud offering scalability, allowing for a far more robust system that powers its AFL, NRL and A-League fantasy sports systems, as well as customer engagement for Fox Sports.

Rackspace's DevOps automation services has helped Fanhub get greater control over its managed Cloud (also hosted by Rackspace), which is especially important when it comes burst capacity surrounding major sports events. Fanhub is DevOps first customer in Australia.

Fanhub is a joint venture between digital agency Loud&Clear, based in Melbourne, and the various sporting codes.It sports hundreds of thousands of players, so given the scale of the project, the company had to look at outsourcing to the Cloud to keep up with the demands placed on the system.

"Although we had a strong development background, the real challenges we were facing were around scale," Ben Beath, head of digital at Loud&Clear said.

"You might have 70 per cent of users all having the same player as captain on their team - and he gets injured. Suddenly you've got hundreds of thousands of people all making the change at the same time. It can happen in five minutes - and they're all very vocal fans. We really needed a robust infrastructure to handle all that."

The company was running its own dedicated servers through Servers Australia. Beath said that although they were top edge machines, once the servers reached capacity, there was nowhere to go.

Loud&Clear had already chosen Rackspace as its Cloud host, running out of the Sydney Datacentre (with backups overseas), and added Rackspace DevOps as-a-service late last year to enable its Fanhub development team to concentrate on the products' features, rather than backend issues.

"We wanted to focus on three key areas, robustness of the underlying infrastructure, the customer experience for the teams in Australia in terms of surge, and thirdly the development opportunities Rackspace could offer."

The pricing structure was at a fixed point, but allowed the Loud&Clear team access to Rackspace's international experts, built out their automation and integrated their existing systems into Jenkins and incorporate their GitHub repository.

"Where its got to now is that we run a single script on one instance, and it configures all the other instances it needs, it pulls info from GitHub, it does a health check, starts transitioning the load across to it, and then effectively we've got an application that's building itself out on the infrastructure," he said.

"Rackspace has really helped drive that, they've given us an enormous amount of confidence."

The new backend can now handle more than 100 instances at peak times, and then scales back down once the surge has passed.

Beyond this, cost optimisation has also been a key bonus for Loud&Clear.

"We were looking at how we could spin up things for as little as an hour, or as required. How can we make this as flexible as possible?" he said.

"Our hosting costs have actually reduced quite significantly since we moved to the Cloud."

One of the key changes for his development team was teaching his staff to work with an outside company on mission critical applications. Devops has cut back on a lot of the more menial tasks and allowed his team to focus on new features.

"Deployments were taking us anywhere between two days or around 30 hours. We're now doing it in under and hour.

"We spin up the new production environment, we deploy on to that, test it, move the traffic across, tear down the old one. That's taken a while to get everyone used to, the idea of infrastructure being so disposable. We also have no maintenance windows now."

"The amount of time we've had to dedicate to BAU [business as usual activities] has dropped by 75 per cent thanks to devops. The development time that was just dedicated to BAU, deployment, bug fixing, patching etc, is way down, which means we are spending 400 hours a month, which we didn't have this time last year just on feature development.

"Just this last week we were able to add three new features without going offline."

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