OpenWager

OpenWager Modernizes its Data Center with Cumulus Linux

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Any time our network is down that is lost revenue and customers going to other sites for gaming. As a result, uptime is probably the most important attribute of our data center.

Sid Stuart, Director of Operations

Industry

Social Gaming & SaaS

Business Objective

Deliver mission-critical availability, simplifying operation & reducing CapEx

Partners

Racklive

Overview

OpenWager is a leader in the global social casino market; one of the fastest growing segments of digital gaming. Founded in 2013 and headquartered in San Francisco, the company develops, publishes, and operates customizable social casino products for entertainment giants all around the world. Despite having a global footprint within a fast-growing market, its IT operations are still incredibly small, with only a single person dedicated to running their entire data center. In addition to maintaining real-time performance of the applications in this global data center, this individual also has to work closely with OpenWager’s development team in order to bring new applications into production on a regular basis.

With a great of deal growth ahead, limited CapEx budget, and a commitment to maintaining a small IT operations team, it was agreed that the new data center needs to have an innovative architectural approach in order to continue to deliver 24x7 uptime and great performance.

Challenges

Once the decision was made to re-architect the data center, IT focused in on several core characteristics of the new infrastructure solution that were considered “must haves”. These requirements served as evaluation criteria for choosing Cumulus Linux. They included:

SIMPLICITY & EASE-OF-MANAGEMENT

As a small team, OpenWager IT department decided to move away from the more complex and expensive Cisco networking equipment. Whatever solution was selected needs to be able to leverage the staff’s existing knowledge with tools like Linux, but able to deliver high-performance and uptime with a small team.

A FLEXIBLE, OPEN PLATFORM

OpenWager was also determined to implement a solution that was flexible and open. The team looked into bare metal switch options in order to save money and streamline its management. It also means that this software-based platform would be capable of easily integrating with OpenWager’s existing management, orchestration, and automation tools. This last point was particularly important given the small size of the company’s IT team. Leveraging orchestration and automation tools as part of the DevOps model would enable the company to “punch above its weight” and scale with a small team.

MISSION-CRITICAL AVAILABILITY

With customers worldwide, OpenWager’s wanted their SaaS infrastructure to be stable and available 24 x 7. If it’s not, the company would lose money and customers, pure and simple. As a result, it could be argued that this was the most important criteria for selecting a new platform.

Solution

In taking a “clean slate” approach to its data center, OpenWager had myriad options to choose from in terms of how it approached its new infrastructure. Its IT organization spent a great deal of time on research into various methodologies, speaking with vendors and experimenting with different approaches. OpenWager evaluated various solutions but decided that they are too complex for its needs. After weeks of research, the company finally settled on Open Networking with Cumulus Networks and all Layer 2 deployment.

With the complete solution in production, OpenWager began experiencing a number of benefits right away.

RELIABILITY

After implementing the complete solution OpenWager team experienced increased network “5 9s” reliability. As a SaaS business, reliable network with almost 100% uptime is critical to drive revenue.

TIME-TO-PRODUCTION

The DevOps model was crucial to OpenWager’s business, as its orchestration tools enable the “Ops” portion to scale with limited resources. With Cumulus Linux in place, OpenWager was able to easily integrate its existing orchestration and automation tools (like Chef). The new approach led to dramatically reduce time-to-production for new systems.

COST-EFFECTIVE

By leveraging the simplicity and familiarity of Linux, the OpenWager was able to save:

  • CapEx – CapEx was considerably higher when compared to traditional Cisco network.
  • OpEx – Do more with less by leveraging existing investment in Linux server tools to manage their network

OpenWager’s IT team was already familiar with Linux and were capable of managing the infrastructure, enabling other IT resources to focus on mission-critical applications. What’s more, these savings could be used for additional build-outs on the infrastructure and for other new projects.

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I just didn’t want to buy another Cisco switch – they are much too complex and expensive.

Sid Stuart, Director of Operations

Recap

OpenWager was looking for an easy-to-use interface that made the transition very simple. Cumulus Linux allowed OpenWager to leverage DevOps orchestration tools that were critical for an IT team to expand their coverage without increasing head-count. Open Networking enabled OpenWager to use whatever bare metal switches they wished, without any vendor lock-in.

From Proof-of-Concept (POC) to full deployment, the entire process took less than eight weeks. OpenWager credited this in part to Cumulus’ outstanding support team, which it found extremely knowledgeable and responsive.