Three men came up with the concept of vsmarket.com after watching a cock-fight in Thailand. "They thought the whole idea of all the locals cheering and betting on which cock would win could be translated into their own field - finance," says Thomas Georgii, chief technology officer on the Swedish site.
Fifteen months later, Versus Market launched. It is a stock market game where players compete in matches and races of chosen Nasdaq or NYSE stocks. Players bet on share performances, for example, Ericcson versus Dell, with a minimum stake of 60p per bet in the UK. So far, bets have ranged from $2 to $1,500 in the US.
The site has the Players' Cafe, where people can read news, post messages and chat. It took six months to come up with the design concept of the site and 30 people worked on constructing it over the next nine months. It was launched early last month. Georgii says that a crucial element in getting everything right was the close partnerships vsmarket.com had with Sun, Oracle and BEA to deliver the core infrastructure.
The logic behind the site's main application is written in Enterprise Java Beans, with most pages written in Java Server Pages. It uses BEA Weblogic on nine separate Sun Enterprise 420R multiprocessor machines. Sun Solaris is the application server, using Weblogic's cluster functionality to run the application on several servers. It also has a cluster of Linux Redhat servers for creating graphical arenas and NT machines for administrative functions.
"In order for the games arenas to show real-time quotes, an additional server was needed. This is so we could push out pictures to users without them having to reload the browser or install plug-ins," explains Georgii. "It demanded not only enormous development within Java, but more insight into the world of finance and real-time programming."
The site was built to be as redundant as possible. "We use Summit 48 switches from Extreme networks and duplicated Alteon Acedirector load balancing equipment to distribute the load between Web servers," says Georgii. It runs on a Oracle database 8i, using a Sun cluster, preventing it from being hardware-dependent.
Like the site's founders, Georgii has a strong interest in racing and betting. When he is in the UK, he likes nothing better than more excitement. "One of my favourite nights out is at Walthamstow Greyhound Racing track in London." he says.
Name: Thomas Georgii
Job title: chief technology officer
Educational qualifications: MSc in computer science
IT skills: C, C++, Unix, Sun Solaris, Oracle, Sybase
Favourite film: Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels
Hobbies: snowboarding, scuba diving, golf
Georgii on Georgii: active, innovative and dedicated