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Microsoft SQL Server
Customer Solution Case Study
Online Gaming Firm Implements Real-Time
Analytics and Scales for Planned Growth
Country or Region: Europe
Industry: Media and entertainment
Customer Profile
BetOnSoft, founded in 2006, provides endto-end online gaming products including
online casino games such as slots, video
poker and blackjack. The company offers
software and services to independent
Business Situation
BetOnSoft wanted to guarantee the
availability of its applications, boost
scalability for future growth, and implement
intensive data analysis features in real-time.
The firm implemented Microsoft SQL Server
2012 Enterprise to take advantage of highavailability features.
 Processes 10 times more workload while
running real-time analytics
 Increases availability
 Accommodates business growth with
hybrid IT structure
 Simplifies administration
“SQL Server 2012 Enterprise with AlwaysOn gives us
exactly the performance we need. We can exceed 10
times the previous peak game-play load.... and still run
intensive analytics in real time.”
Thomas Pullen, Database Administrator, BetOnSoft
BetOnSoft develops and manages more than 110 online casino
games, played every day by thousands of players worldwide. The
company needed to ensure that its games are highly available,
because players are online around the clock. BetOnSoft also
wanted to prepare for business growth by scaling its database
while maintaining application responsiveness. In addition, its
applications must perform key business-critical analytics in real
time. In November 2011, the company deployed a hybrid
application solution that takes advantage of the high-availability
features in Microsoft SQL Server 2012 AlwaysOn and the
scalability of SQL Azure. Now, the company’s infrastructure can
exceed 10 times its previous peak loads while running intensive
real-time data analytics. BetOnSoft has achieved the availability
it needs and can use its hybrid infrastructure to scale to meet
unexpected business growth.
BetOnSoft, an international gaming
software provider with presence in 11
countries, is a fast-growing developer of
popular online casino games used by
players around the world. The company
provides gaming software and hardware
infrastructure to independent operators
that market and brand the games. Over the
past two years, the company has launched
new operators into the marketplace and
acquired existing operators from other
software providers through its superior
platform and products.
Currently, BetOnSoft offers more than 110
single-player online games, including slot
machines, roulette, blackjack, and craps.
These games can be played on computers
or mobile devices.
As a growing player in the e-gaming
software market, BetOnSoft needs to
maintain high availability for its missioncritical gaming applications in order to
achieve business success. Their operators
market to an international player base, and
so there are always players online, 24 hours
a day, seven days a week.
Availability was sometimes challenging
because when BetOnSoft database
administrators would run intensive
maintenance operations such as checking
the database for corruption, application
timeouts would often occur. Additionally,
when the company would deploy new
software, administrators sometimes had to
take the application server offline.
To be competitive, BetOnSoft must be able
to be agile and innovative in its technology
approach, so it can handle rapid growth in
the number of users playing its games. In
fact, as the number of operators using
BetOnSoft services increases, it is likely that
aggressive marketing on any given day
would create sudden high demand. To
handle such scenarios, BetOnSoft needs the
ability to rapidly scale up or down. “We
have more than doubled the number of
operators in the last 12 months,” says
Thomas Pullen, Database Administrator,
BetOnSoft. “And our expectations are that
we will continue to grow. We needed to
make sure that our database software and
servers had the capacity to scale rapidly.”
BetOnSoft also sought to out-innovate its
competitors by implementing rich
functionality for operators and players
alike, much of which depends on complex
data analysis to produce results in realtime.
To increase availability, scalability, and
performance for its multi-terabyte
database, in early 2011 BetOnSoft decided
to implement a new technology solution.
BetOnSoft began deploying a new solution
in July 2011, when it upgraded its database
servers and database software. At that time,
the company implemented Microsoft SQL
Server 2008 R2 x64 Enterprise data
management software on two Dell
PowerEdge R810 server computers with
four 8-core processors and 256 megabytes
of RAM.
Each server contains a 640-gigabyte and a
1.2-terabyte memory card made by Fusionio, a storage-memory company based in
Salt Lake City, Utah. Fusion-io memory
cards can improve processing capabilities
in a data center by relocating active data
from centralized storage to the server
where it is being processed. This can help
reduce latency while also increasing datacenter efficiency.
In late 2011, BetOnSoft decided to upgrade
further to Microsoft SQL Server 2012
“We’re using SQL Azure
for our core monitoring
services, and it helps us
ensure the highest
availability for our critical
Devan Govender, Chief Software
Architect, BetOnSoft
Enterprise. “We had been very happy with
SQL Server 2008 R2 overall,” says Pullen.
“But we saw features in SQL Server 2012
that we knew would help us with
availability, scalability, and performance.”
One of those features is SQL Server 2012
AlwaysOn, a new high-availability and
disaster-recovery solution through which
customers can query data in replica
databases and conduct backup operations
from those replicas. AlwaysOn includes
availability groups that support a failover
environment for a set of user databases
that fail over collectively. This feature also
includes the AlwaysOn availability group
listener, which contributes to easier
application server configuration and
Additionally, AlwaysOn provides readable
database mirror capabilities. The replica
databases provide read-only access for use
in reporting and backup, which serves to
offload some of the primary server’s
“SQL Server 2012 AlwaysOn was the key
driver for us,” Pullen says. “Between the
availability groups, the readable mirror for
offloading reporting and database
checking, and the listener, we knew we
would increase our availability with SQL
Server 2012.”
“Typical data architectures for e-commerce
applications involve a high-throughput
online transaction processing (OLTP)
database from which data is fed into a
downstream data warehouse,” says Devan
Govender, Chief Software Architect,
BetOnSoft. “Data analysis is then usually
run on the warehouse, which can be several
seconds or even minutes behind. Even
small delays are not tolerable in the
market-leading gaming products we are
BetOnSoft architected its applications
around SQL Server 2012 AlwaysOn, Fusionio storage, and strategic hardware and
network configurations to take advantage
of the benefits provided by this platform
and achieve its product and performance
goals. Govender says, “SQL Server 2012
AlwaysOn is a key part of our solution to
achieve real-time results.”
Testing the Solution in the Lab
Prior to implementing SQL Server 2012,
BetOnSoft held two series of testing
engagements in Oxford, UK in April and
May 2011. Then, in September 2011,
BetOnSoft worked with Microsoft to test
SQL Server 2012 in a production
environment at a laboratory session at
Microsoft headquarters in Redmond,
The goal of the Redmond lab was to
validate that the technology could support
at least 10 times current gameplay
workload at BetOnSoft, while still able to
perform intensive data analytics in realtime. “We wanted to make sure that the
technology could give us an extra level of
availability without any performance
penalty to the players,” says Pullen. “And,
ultimately, we wanted to make sure that
the solution supported future scale-up
throughput requirements that fell within
our acceptable application response times.”
During the lab, BetOnSoft installed SQL
Server 2012 instances on each server,
activated the AlwaysOn features and set up
availability groups and synchronous
secondary instances while activating
reporting from a readable database mirror.
It also conducted failover testing. “We
really wanted to run a stress test on the
availability groups,” states Pullen. “We were
driving SQL Server 2012 to exceed 10 times
our peak production load.”
“The firewall and security
configurations in SQL
Azure are great. Our
cloud-based services are
now as secure as our
Devan Govender, Chief Software
Architect, BetOnSoft
BetOnSoft went live with the new solution
in November 2011.
Creating a Hybrid Cloud Solution
BetOnSoft is also running several critical
services on Microsoft SQL Azure, a cloudbased data-storage environment that
provides high availability by storing
multiple database copies and providing fast
For example, BetOnSoft maintains its errorreporting service in the Windows Azure
cloud with data stored in SQL Azure
databases. This service monitors, by
geographic region, the number of players
worldwide that are experiencing problems
launching or playing games on their
computers. “For some services, such as
error reporting, it makes sense to manage
that outside the data center,” says
Govender. “For example, there could be
issues with the data center that make it
inaccessible for error reporting.”
BetOnSoft also runs certain marketing
applications on Windows Azure, where
demand can spike as a result of campaigns
run by marketing partners. “It was a nobrainer for us to run services that have
unpredictable demand in the cloud,” says
Govender, “We scale up to meet demand
and back down when demand subsides.”
Another Windows Azure service is used to
collect statistics on the quality of
connections to the company’s games.
Statistics are collected for download rates,
latency, and number of connection errors.
BetOnSoft also has a Windows Azure
monitoring service that collects data on
transaction rates, the number of games
played, and other activity metrics in a SQL
Azure database. It constantly analyses these
metrics to detect and send alerts about any
anomalies that require attention.
With the new SQL Server 2012 solution,
BetOnSoft can process more than 10 times
its previous peak workload while running
real-time data analysis. The solution also
increases availability and gives BetOnSoft
the capacity to scale for growth.
Additionally, the company has easier IT
administration and can provide better
service to its operators.
Processes 10 Times Previous Workload
While Running Real-Time Analysis
During lab testing, BetOnSoft were able to
exceed their target of 10 times their current
production workload. “SQL Server 2012
Enterprise with AlwaysOn gives us exactly
the performance we need,” says Pullen.
“We can sustain more than 10 times the
current peak game-play load and still run
intensive analytics in real-time.”
This performance is aided by the Fusion-io
memory card, which contributes to low
database latency because it does not rely
on SAN storage. “Using local attached
storage helps BetOnSoft get the
throughput it needs with SQL Server 2012,”
says Josh Miner, Director of Product
Marketing, Fusion-io. “With reduced
latency, the server computers get data
faster and can process that data hundreds
of times per millisecond. That contributes
to faster and more consistent response
times for BetOnSoft game players.”
Increases Availability for Mission-Critical
SQL Server 2012 AlwaysOn gives BetOnSoft
the enterprise-level robustness it needs to
ensure high availability for the company’s
mission-critical online gaming applications.
“Before we upgraded our servers and
implemented SQL Server 2012, I could not
regularly check the database. Whenever I
did, it would cause application timeouts,”
says Pullen. “Now, with the high availability
“We now have the
capacity to add a lot
more players and
operators while not
losing any application
responsiveness. If our
customer base grows by
10 times, we know we’ll
still have great
performance with SQL
Server 2012 AlwaysOn.”
Thomas Pullen, Database Administrator,
we get from SQL Server 2012 AlwaysOn, I
can check the database every week, and I
can be confident that the database is
corruption free.” BetOnSoft also checked
automatic failover time during testing. “We
were prepared to accept a time of two
minutes, and it only took 14 seconds, which
was a huge win for us,” says Pullen.
Taking advantage of AlwaysOn availability
groups, BetOnSoft can also deploy new
game features faster than before. “With the
availability group listener, for example,
multiple application servers can be
configured identically, no matter where the
database is running,” says Pullen. “That
further increases availability and helps us
avoid downtime when we deploy new
The company also ensures high availability
from its Windows Azure monitoring
services. “We’re using SQL Azure for our
core monitoring services, and it helps us
ensure the highest availability for our
critical services,” says Govender.
SQL Azure also enhances security for those
services. “The firewall and security
configurations in SQL Azure are great,” says
Govender. “Our cloud-based services are
now as secure as our data-center-based
Provides Hybrid IT Structure to
Accommodate Scalability
When BetOnSoft tested its new solution
prior to going live, it confirmed that SQL
Server 2012 could sustain the level of
throughput needed to meet future business
growth. “We now have the capacity to add
a lot more players and operators while not
losing any application responsiveness,” says
Pullen. “If our customer base grows by 10
times, we know we’ll still have great
performance with SQL Server 2012
And with Windows Azure, BetOnSoft has an
added layer that it can use to scale to
handle unexpected high demand for its
services. With that capability, BetOnSoft
can better compete in the online gaming
marketplace. “In our business,
responsiveness and scalability are very
important, because we need to retain the
same, fast application performance while
more players are playing the games,” Pullen
says. “We want to grow our business, and
SQL Server 2012 positions us to do that.”
Simplifies Administration
SQL Server 2012 features like AlwaysOn
availability groups and the availability
groups listener, which support easier server
configuration and failover management
capabilities, will help simplify
administration for BetOnSoft database
administrators. “Using the readable mirror
in SQL Server 2012, I can check the
database frequently and easily, as well as
offload reporting,” says Pullen. “That really
reduces time and effort for me, making my
job easier from a management
Enhances Service to Operators
In addition, SQL Server 2012 helped
BetOnSoft enhance the services it provides
to the operators that run the company’s
games. For instance, BetOnSoft is now able
to provide fraud detection, VIP
identification, and marketing campaign
analysis services to operators in real time.
“Having the SQL Server 2012 readable
database mirror functionality makes this
easier for us to do, because we can provide
access to reporting data without
compromising the primary server,” says
With its SQL Azure–based services, the
company can use a leaner infrastructure
overall and is also gaining valuable metrics
that can be used to improve the user
For More Information
For more information about Microsoft
products and services, call the Microsoft
Sales Information Center at (800) 4269400. In Canada, call the Microsoft
Canada Information Centre at (877) 5682495. Customers in the United States and
Canada who are deaf or hard-of-hearing
can reach Microsoft text telephone
(TTY/TDD) services at (800) 892-5234.
Outside the 50 United States and
Canada, please contact your local
Microsoft subsidiary. To access
information using the World Wide Web,
go to:
For more information about Fusion-io
products and services, visit the website
For more information about BetOnSoft
Technologies products and services, visit
the website at:
experience. “It’s very valuable for us to see
that someone in the United Kingdom is
having a great download experience, while
a player in India is having a bad one,” says
Govender. “It gives us a complete and
detailed view of the global player
Microsoft Server Product
For more information about the Microsoft
server product portfolio, go to:
The company also can better detect issues
and anomalies. “We use our SQL Azure–
based monitoring service to see where the
problems are and if there are certain
trends,” says Govender. “We use these
metrics to enhance our services to improve
the overall user experience.”
Ultimately, SQL Server 2012 fulfilled all of
the company’s requirements during testing,
which confirmed that it was the right
technology to align with BetOnSoft
business goals. “We would not have gone
live with SQL Server 2012 if we hadn’t had
that success in the testing phase,” says
Pullen. “Those results showed us that we
were implementing the right technology to
meet our business growth and maintain the
high availability and strong performance
we need to be competitive in online
Software and Services
Microsoft Server Product Portfolio
 Dell PowerEdge R810 server computers
− Microsoft SQL Server 2012 Enterprise
 Microsoft SQL Azure
 Windows Azure
 Fusion-io
This case study is for informational purposes only.
Document published February 2012
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