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Bet365 backs DevOps to improve site reliability

The online betting site is setting up a DevOps team to improve website reliability and ensure applications are deployed quickly

Online bookie Bet365 has established a DevOps function running out of its technology business, Hillside Technology, to speed up IT operations.

The DevOps team, which operates out of sites in Stoke and Manchester, brings together several operational teams, including software release, IT operations, problem and incident management, and service delivery. Hillside Technology is also forming a site reliability engineering team, recruitment for which is underway.

The company hopes the new DevOps team will support software development projects and drive down delays in introducing new applications, while at the same time improving site reliability.

Bet365 said the 70-strong team will collaborate to identify new principles, technologies and ways of working that can drive operational automation, increase monitoring sophistication and enhance deployment pipelines.

“I don’t see DevOps changing software development practices,” said Steven Briggs, Hillside Technology’s newly appointed head of DevOps. “The critical question is how to keep pace with the consistent need to release software, while ensuring the platform remains stable and secure. Modernising our approach to operational and release activity is imperative, and we believe a DevOps approach can help with this.”

He said the team’s overall goal is to gain greater insight into the health of live systems, increase the level of IT automation within IT operations and share insights with the development teams.

“The critical question is how to keep pace with the consistent need to release software, while ensuring the platform remains stable and secure”
Steven Briggs, Hillside Technology

Over the next 12 months, Briggs anticipates the move to DevOps will enable Bet365 to automate more IT operations.

“We have a large IT estate. We will not have made a holistic change across the whole estate within 12 months, but we will focus on where the needs are greatest,” he said. “I expect to see greater levels of automation. We’ll also have a much more informative way to understand how one system can impact another area and a shared understanding across the development and platform teams.”

For instance, he said if a problem occurred with a given switch on the network, Bet365 would have a better understanding of what applications were likely to be affected.

Briggs said DevOps would enable Bet365 to introduce self-remediation and take advantage of a certain amount of IT self-healing. “If when ‘x’ happens the response is always to do ‘y’, there is an opportunity to automate this simple task. It may simply involve rebooting the server,” he said.

Automating even simple IT tasks takes away the repetitive toil associated with IT operations, freeing up administrators to focus on more complex tasks. Also, in Briggs’ experience, businesses tend to experience a snowball effect with automation, as people become more confident about automating manual tasks.

“We want to give operations the tooling, dashboards and automation needed to increase the value it offers the business. This will involve breaking out of the team and technology silos that can otherwise hinder how the end-to-end system is understood and managed,” said Briggs.

“We will build a view of how all parts of the system work together and progress engineering principles that make monitoring, reporting and self-diagnostics/healing more achievable.”

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