“Launching a dedicated Spring Racing Carnival microsite in time for the 2011 season gave our customers continuous access to information they needed to place bets during peak times, which was good for punters and good for our business.
Windows Azure made that happen.”
Shane Paterson, Network Operations Manager, Centrebet
Centrebet is an international online betting and gaming operator, founded in Alice Springs, Northern Territory in 1992. In 1996, the company became the first licensed bookmaker in the southern hemisphere to offer online sports betting.
In the lead-up to the 2011 Spring Racing Carnival – a month-long series of premier horseracing events – the bookmaker wanted to build a dedicated microsite that would give its customers timely race and betting information.
According to Shane Paterson, Centrebet’s Network Operations Manager, the company needed a platform to host the website that was scalable, cost-effective and globally accessible. It was essential for this site not be a drain on, or disrupt, Centrebet’s main
betting operations or existing IT resources.
With assistance from Breeze – a Microsoft Gold Certified Partner – Centrebet chose Microsoft’s Windows Azure platform to run its website. Using this framework made it possible for Centrebet to build and launch the site within four months and in time for
the start of the Spring Racing Carnival. Running the site on Microsoft’s cloud infrastructure enabled the bookmaker to cost-effectively provide its customers with racing and betting information during peak times, in particular during the Melbourne Cup, without
impacting on its core revenue-generating operations.
||The challenge was to get a site up and running for online and mobile punters in a short timeframe, without causing any disruption to our core betting operations.
|| Shane Paterson
Network Operations Manager,
Centrebet is one of the world’s largest online betting and gaming operators, founded in Alice Springs, Northern Territory in 1992. In 1996, the ASX-listed company became the first licensed bookmaker in the southern hemisphere to offer online sports betting.
With annual turnover of more than A$1 billion a year, Centrebet offers up to 6,000 sports and horseracing betting markets worldwide each week, as well as an expanding list of gaming products.
The busiest time of year for the bookmaker is during the Spring Racing Carnival, a month-long series of high-stakes horseracing events held in Melbourne, Victoria. The Melbourne Cup, in particular, sees thousands of once-a-year punters bet on the big race,
held on the first Tuesday in November each year. Centrebet takes around four times the number of bets during the Melbourne Cup than it takes on an average day.
“The traffic across our systems on that one day of the year is phenomenal,” says Shane Paterson, Network Operations Manager, Centrebet.
Centrebet’s online and mobile customers demand the most up-to-date information about the races and results, especially which horses are attracting the big money.
“If punters can see where the big bets are being laid, it greatly assists them in their own wagering,” says Paterson.
The company wanted to build a dedicated microsite to provide vital and timely Spring Carnival race and betting information to its customers. However, its existing infrastructure and resources were heavily stretched.
“The challenge was to get a site up and running for online and mobile punters in a short timeframe, without causing any disruption to our core betting operations,” explains Paterson. “We would usually invest heavily in hardware to ensure we had the right
infrastructure to remain operational during major sports events. This time we needed a cost-effective solution that wouldn’t be a drain on our existing bandwidth.
“Given the high number of users, the site also needed to handle large volumes of data quickly and distribute that information efficiently and seamlessly,” he adds.
In canvassing its options, Centrebet initially considered building an internal cloud hosting solution, which would have cost the company A$50,000 in hardware and been time-consuming to implement. On advice from IT consultancy Breeze, a Microsoft Gold Certified
Partner, Centrebet selected Microsoft Windows Azure – an open and flexible cloud platform used to quickly build, deploy and manage applications across a global network of Microsoft-managed data centres.
Centrebet was already working with Breeze on various IT projects to improve its business operations.
Breeze and Centrebet built the new website on the Windows Azure platform in just four months, in time for the start of Melbourne’s 2011 Spring Carnival.
“Windows Azure gave us the flexibility, scalability and performance reliability we needed to operate the site in the cloud without affecting our core infrastructure,” says Paterson. “It was also fast and incredibly easy to deploy.”
The new site enabled Centrebet customers to access comprehensive betting information from the first major race meeting of the spring season, in early October. This information included up-to-date prices; tips and big bets being placed; the form guide; and
information about which horses to follow and which were leading the market.
||With Windows Azure we can scale up at 10 minutes’ notice, but also scale back during quiet times.
|| Shane Peterson
Network Operations Manager,
Using Microsoft BizTalk Server 2010 and Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2 as the website’s back end enabled Centrebet to populate its database with many different high-volume feeds – for example, the five biggest bets in the past hour – from existing internal
systems and public Internet feeds.
“By running the site on Microsoft Windows Azure, we were able to put a lot of information at the fingertips of punters without putting any strain on the main processing engines that operate our core revenue-generating systems,” explains Paterson.
On Melbourne Cup day, Centrebet took more than 400,000 bets with the help of the new site.
Centrebet’s Spring Carnival microsite running on Microsoft Windows Azure seamlessly provided timely race and betting information to the bookmaker’s global customers during its busiest time of year.
Scalability and operational efficiency
By using Windows Azure to run the Spring Carnival microsite, Centrebet ensured its network performed consistently well, because data was distributed over a large number of machines rather than a single database. The company always had access to sufficient
bandwidth and processing power to ensure the site continued to run smoothly when the numbers of users and transactions spiked dramatically. Centrebet could also scale back server and storage capacity during quieter periods.
“Offloading capacity to the cloud takes the pressure off our existing infrastructure and frees up resources crucial to ensuring our main betting operations stay up and running during peak periods,” says Paterson.
Cost-effective hosting model
According to Paterson, the Windows Azure platform was quick and easy to deploy.
Centrebet didn’t need to invest in additional hardware, which eliminated the time IT staff would have taken to install, manage and maintain the system. The company also saved a considerable amount of money in overheads and staff resources.
“The hardware we were considering purchasing would have cost around A$50,000; we no longer need to spend this,” says Paterson.
Longer term cost savings
Rather than having to continually invest in local infrastructure and bandwidth, Centrebet can use Microsoft Windows Azure to manage and distribute scaled volumes of information cost-efficiently, when and in whichever way it chooses.
“With Windows Azure, we can scale up at 10 minutes’ notice, but also scale back during quiet times,” says Paterson.
“The beauty is you pay for what you use. Our investment in new hardware and management costs is minimal. IT staff spend less time managing infrastructure. When demand is high, we can bring new equipment into play in hours rather than months, which saves
time and money.”
Timely information for customers
Centrebet customers use the information on the microsite to make informed decisions about which horses to bet on.
“Launching a dedicated Spring Racing Carnival microsite in time for the 2011 season gave our customers continuous access to information they needed to place bets during peak times, which was good for punters and good for our business,” says Paterson. “Windows
Azure made that happen.”
An IT platform for the future
||In time, we may look at moving some of our primary business activities to the Microsoft Windows Azure platform.
|| Shane Paterson
Network Operations Manager,
The success of the Spring Carnival microsite has laid the groundwork for Centrebet to build microsites for other major sporting events, such as the Australian Football League and National Rugby League grand finals and the Autumn Racing Carnival.
“In time, we may look at moving some of our primary business activities to the Microsoft Windows Azure platform,” says Paterson.
Microsoft Product that was featured
The Windows Azure platform provides developers with the functionality to build applications that span from consumer to enterprise scenarios. The key components of the Windows Azure platform are:
Windows Azure is the development, service hosting and service management environment for the Windows Azure platform. It provides developers with on-demand compute, storage, bandwidth, content delivery, middleware
and marketplace capabilities to build, host and scale web applications through Microsoft data centres.
Microsoft SQL Azure. Microsoft SQL Azure is a self-managed, multitenant relational cloud database service built on Microsoft SQL Server technologies. It provides built-in high availability, fault tolerance and scale-out database capabilities,
as well as cloud-based data synchronisation and reporting, to build custom enterprise and web applications and extend the reach of data assets.
To learn more, visit:
For More Information
For more information about Microsoft products and services call the sales and information line on 13 20 58 Monday to Friday 8am to 8pm AEST. To find a partner or solution, visit