Novamedia operates fund-raising lotteries that benefit hundreds of charitable organizations. Recently, long deployment times were delaying the launches of new lottery websites, while stale information frustrated lottery players. To remedy these issues, Novamedia opened up its technology platform via an application programming interface (API) based on Red Hat® Fuse. Now a lottery’s IT department can use the API to upload information to its own site, ensuring that players receive timely and accurate status information. New sites can be launched in minutes, not days, as before, speeding time to money.
Amsterdam, the Netherlands
Speed deployment and improve information accuracy of lottery websites.
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We have looked at other vendors, but the experience we have with Red Hat and the quality of its consultants and architects is of a really high level. The relationship has developed into a partnership and helped us to identify a unique solution.Dharminder Dibisarun, IT Advisor concern director, Novamedia
Lotteries are a proven fund-raising method, yet most charitable organizations lack the internal expertise to run them. That’s where Novamedia comes in. A specialist marketing agency for charity organizations, the company operates 5 charity lotteries, 3 in the Netherlands and 1 each in the United Kingdom and Sweden. Over the past 25 years, these lotteries have generated more than €6.1 billion to fund hundreds of charitable organizations worldwide.
However, success comes with its own problems. As fund-raising demand grew, Novamedia was launching more than 120 websites annually, most with life cycles of just a few weeks. Getting the sites online was taking longer and longer, delaying lottery revenue.
The amount of information that had to be updated on the sites was becoming unmanageable, leading to stale information that degraded the user experience. For example, the lotteries take advantage of participants’ postal codes to distribute prizes fairly and prevent fraud, and only a fixed number of entrants can reside in a postal code. If the website information about postal code subscriptions is inaccurate, players may try to buy tickets for postal codes that are already fully subscribed—a frustrating situation that often results in a call to the lottery’s support line.
Novamedia’s IT team realized that they could only solve these problems by collaborating closely with the IT departments of the lottery organizations themselves. However, Novamedia’s existing platform architecture made it difficult to grant access to anyone outside the agency’s firewalls.
Novamedia needed an API that could integrate large datasets and support a wide range of devices, including mobile platforms. After a thorough analysis of available options and previous positive experiences with Red Hat, Novamedia chose Red Hat Fuse as the platform for its public API.
Red Hat partner Trivento managed the installation and configuration of the Red Hat Fuse software. The implementation includes 2 Java programming APIs: JAX-WS for XML web services and JAX-RS for Representational State Transfer (REST) web services.Red Hat, Novamedia’s information security partner B-Able, and the lotteries’ IT teams collaborated to develop a rollout plan that started with the U.K. lottery. This will eventually extend to the other 4 lotteries as well as carefully vetted third parties.
Today, stale lottery information is a thing of the past in the U.K. lottery because data is frequently uploaded directly from its servers, “in real time,” according to Dharminder Debisarun, IT advisor concern director at Novamedia. In addition, participants are immediately notified when their postal codes are no longer available. They may be unhappy to have missed the opportunity to win, but they are less likely to make angry phone calls.
Now that the U.K. lottery IT team can collaborate easily with Novamedia, new websites are being deployed in minutes instead of days—a significant time-to-market improvement given that most lottery websites are only online for a few weeks. The new Red Hat JBoss-powered platform has also boosted overall performance. “We can now handle a higher workload,” said Debisarun. “Previously, we could do 20,000 transactions per hour; but now, it is possible to double this.”
New advocates for open source
The Red Hat solution has done more than solve Novamedia’s immediate problem. It has turned its IT managers into open source advocates. The reason is simple math: Open source software offers dramatic cost savings, increased flexibility, and better performance.
Novamedia’s conversion to open source will displace its dependency on Oracle by soon running PostgreSQL on Red Hat Enterprise Linux. Once the U.K. solution passes all the tests, lotteries in the Netherlands and Sweden will follow suit, migrating completely to open source.
In the end, it’s all about people, not technology. “We can use more channels to reach additional people, stimulate the sale of lottery tickets, and make more charitable contributions,” said Debisarun. “Ultimately, that is what we are doing all of this for.”