Paddy Power has cut the time to upgrade applications from weeks to hours with the rollout of open source, cloud automation tools.
The bookmakers rolled out Opscode’s Chef automation tools in March 2013 to simplify configuration and deployment of server resources from its data centres running on a CloudStack platform. This helped reduce the time needed to build, test and deploy applications.
John Turner, software development manager at Paddy Powers, said: “Previously it might have taken in the order of days to provision a test or development environment. Now we have the capability to do that in minutes. For one of our back office systems we can provision an entire environment in ten minutes. This allows us to more efficient in the way that we use infrastructure."
Turner also said that less manual intervention helped shorten turnaround and cycle times on software releases, allowing the the company to be more agile in its development process. It introduced agile development practices in 2010, aligning development and operations staff more closely to help the business push ideas “from concept to cash” faster.
“Our release cycles in 2010 were described in months, and towards the end of 2012 these were talked about in weeks. Now we have the capability of releasing in hours,” he said.
He added: “[Chef] gives us the opportunity to iterate faster, and therefore to innovate faster. So where a competitor is innovating in a certain area and has stolen a march, it allows us to react to that much quicker than we have in the past.”
Paddy Power’s 300-strong IT team based in Ireland are responsible for the development of a range of customer-facing gambling and gaming apps, as well as back office software such as its live betting service, which provides automated odds adjustments during a sporting event.
With competing software platforms from rivals such as Betfair and Ladbrokes being continuously developed, it is vital that Paddy Power can launch new betting products at speed to meet customer demand, and continually improve existing applications through regular software releases.
“We have always operated in quite a competitive and dynamic marketplace,” said Turner.
“As we observe that marketplace becoming more dynamic, and our competitors gain an increased ability to react, we also need to make sure that we have the same or better capability as well.”
“It is, to some extent, a tide that is rising in the betting and gaming industry, and we have to at least stay with the leading pack, or lead it."
Meanwhile, Turner said that Paddy Power has also learnt from how start-ups operate.
“If you think about how some of the start-up companies work, they will launch minimal viable products into an environment and get real meaningful feedback to the product teams as to the financial viability, before they go off and invest too heavily in making that feature complete.”