Improving Performance While Reducing Costs
3BetGaming is a software provider for online sports betting companies. Whether before a match or in the middle of the game, 3BetGaming’s backend infrastructure powers the bidding behind thousands of games every day. The company offers the most extensive sports book application on the market, and supports nearly 12,000 active players, 14,000 live monthly events, and 100 million bets so far. 3BetGaming is based in Malta and has clients around the world – from growing startups to massive corporations. 3BetGaming consistently provides flexible and powerful software for its diverse range of clients.
As its customer base grew, 3BetGaming faced a problem with its existing virtual load‑balancing appliances. The growth in traffic was bringing 3BetGaming close to exceeding the bandwidth limit imposed by its existing license. In addition, the load balancer they had selected didn’t support compression, which is particularly important because bandwidth is expensive in Malta. Upgrading the existing virtual appliances would be a simple solution, but would come with a very big price tag. 3BetGaming needed a flexible load‑balancing solution that could handle increasing traffic and provide opportunities for additional features, without breaking the bank.
After considering several other options, including upgrading its existing virtual license, 3BetGaming chose NGINX Plus, both because it doesn’t impose an artificial bandwidth limit and for its extensive feature set, including the all‑important data compression – all in an affordable subscription. NGINX Plus is a complete application delivery platform, combining load balancing, content caching, web serving, security controls, and monitoring in one easy‑to‑use software package. Now, 3BetGaming has completely replaced its previous load balancers with NGINX Plus.
“In terms of all the solutions we saw at the price point we were looking at, NGINX Plus hit all the checkboxes. It was a natural choice for our load balancing solution,” says Joseph Borg, IT and Network Infrastructure Manager at 3BetGaming.
3BetGaming runs two CentOS virtual machines in a data center in Malta with NGINX Plus installed in an active‑standby configuration, so if one server goes down, the other takes over immediately.
keepalived for failover between NGINX Plus servers. 3BetGaming also configured the SNMP support in
keepalived, which enables them to gather statistics about the amount of traffic handled by each virtual IP address and view the statistics in the same SNMP‑based management system they use to monitor the rest of their production servers.
Migrating to NGINX Plus
The team at 3BetGaming invested time up front to tune NGINX Plus for optimum performance in their environment. The network architecture is complex because the company load balances both frontend website traffic for different customers and the backend application platform those websites connect to.
Once the configuration was ready, 3BetGaming migrated individual services and sites one at a time – starting with smaller components, then moving onto major services and sites – until everything had been migrated from the legacy load‑balancing appliances to NGINX Plus. The overall migration took around one month, and was a smooth and easy transition.
“As soon as we decided to use NGINX Plus, I immediately got to work to come up with the configuration we required,” says Borg.”The migration went extremely smoothly – to the extent I was surprised just how smoothly it went.”
Impressive Performance at a Fraction of the Cost
NGINX Plus is optimized for handling large volumes of traffic, and its ability to perform compression before sending responses to clients can significantly reduce the size of transmitted data. Further, an NGINX Plus subscription doesn’t impose bandwidth limitations as many hardware load balancers do.
At peak levels, traffic between 3BetGaming’s backend web servers and NGINX Plus hits nearly 270 megabits per second, but NGINX Plus compression of text‑based data (SOAP, XML, HTML) reduces the load to around 65 Megabits per second – nearly a 75% reduction in bandwidth utilization and a 4:1 compression ratio.
“The reduction in bandwidth was a huge bonus for us because Malta is a small island in the Mediterranean, and bandwidth over here is particularly expensive because of the costs associated with connecting Malta to the rest of the Internet. So any reduction in bandwidth for us represents big savings, and NGINX Plus helped us achieve this,” Borg says.
Borg also mentions how impressed the team has been with NGINX Plus’ very small footprint. The underlying Linux boxes are configured with just 10 virtual CPUs and 8 GB of RAM. Borg adds, “the only reason I gave them 8 gigs of RAM is because I could afford it; I’m sure they could get by with half [of that]. With the amount of traffic that is being handled and the compression level that is set, NGINX Plus doesn’t seem to flinch or even feel the load. CPU usage doesn’t go up to even 16% in total, so with NGINX Plus, we have a lot of room to grow.”
Personalized Support, Available When We Need It
3BetGaming was able to easily switch from its previous solution to NGINX Plus in about a month, largely due to the hands‑on support from the NGINX Plus team. While other load‑balancer vendors require customers to pay extra for support on top of the license fee, NGINX Plus includes award‑winning technical support as part of the subscription. The NGINX Plus support team ensured 3BetGaming was taking full advantage of all features so they wouldn’t miss out on performance.
“I found NGINX Plus support to be extremely helpful and I was really impressed just how fast they replied and with the accuracy of their answers,” Borg says. “The few questions I had, they helped me set it up in the exact configuration I wanted. In just a short while, we got to a stage where we had completely migrated off of our old solution.”
“Being an IT manager, I deal with support from all sorts of companies and have a fair sense of what each company’s support is all about,” Borg adds. “With NGINX Plus, I was positively surprised with the high quality of the support, given the relatively low cost of the software. A lot of people might initially start considering a load balancer and fail to consider the quality of support they are really getting. The support with NGINX Plus surpassed my expectations and my previous experiences with other companies.”
Flexibility Enables Seamless Integration
NGINX Plus integrated seamlessly with 3BetGaming’s Microsoft‑based application platform written in C# and ASP, and provided the additional flexibility necessary for the company’s specific needs.
As a software platform provider to gaming companies, 3BetGaming needs to direct traffic from distinct customer websites to the appropriate backend systems. Matching URLs to regular expressions is one way to do that, and it’s a built‑in feature of NGINX Plus. In addition, 3BetGaming has several testing and staging environments, each with specific URLs that NGINX Plus can direct to different servers.
“This flexibility was something we were after,” Borg says. “We can configure URL matching of incoming requests at a very granular level and send each request off to the load‑balancing instance that is most appropriate.”
Visibility into the Health of the Application and Infrastructure
3BetGaming uses NGINX Plus’ live activity monitoring dashboard for visibility into how their backend servers and load balancers are working. They can see detailed statistics about how much traffic each server is handling, what kind of traffic is coming in, where
4xx errors are being returned, and more. This helps developers identify exactly where problems may be coming up.
In addition, 3BetGaming uses NGINX Plus’ highly configurable application health checks. “The application health checks are vital to us,” Borg says. “The load balancer serves traffic to a number of backend servers, and it’s possible that something could go wrong with them – such as a memory leak or a hardware failure. But NGINX Plus actively monitors those backend servers and as soon as it detects that one isn’t available, it removes it and simply keeps dishing out to servers left in the pool. As a result of those health checks, our customers don’t experience any negative impact.”
NGINX Plus offers 3BetGaming a cost‑effective load‑balancing solution without sacrificing performance, enabling 3BetGaming to grow and scale without incurring large, incremented licensing fees with bandwidth limitations.
“It really has been a win‑win all around migrating to NGINX Plus. I have been genuinely impressed with features, the ease with which we migrated in a flawless manner, the low cost, and the performance benefits,” says Borg.
3BetGaming is an industry‑leading software provider for betting and gaming operations. The company offers a mobile‑ready platform that is customizable to each client’s specific needs. Founded in 2014, 3BetGaming is based in Malta. For more information, visit www.3betgaming.com.