FanDuel’s Shane Sweeney: no room for complacency in race to be first to market

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SBC Webinars, Computacenter and Amazon Web Services (AWS) have presented the second instalment of a three-part live webinar series that aims to show the igaming world the power of Cloud in three logical steps. 

Integral to this second episode was a fireside chat with FanDuel Group VP of IT Shane Sweeney and Nick Jones, Client Director, Computacenter.

Also participating was SBC MD Andrew McCarron as moderator, alongside Luis Martinez Arnal, Technical Architect, Computacenter, and Lee James, AWS’ Head of Solution Architecture, Strategic Accounts – EMEA.

With discussions focusing initially on how regulation in the US has impacted FanDuel’s technology architecture and deployment strategy, Sweeney commented: “It’s certainly changed us – and introduced many challenges. FanDuel would have originally been a Cloud-first organization, primarily working with Amazon for many years on that fantasy platform.”

The repeal of PASPA, he continued, meant that FanDuel had to work with states to ensure it was legal in every state. “That was a relatively straightforward process, partnering with those regulatory bodies,” he added. “However, there’s a secondary regulatory restraint that we have to operate under which is a federal law that still exists around how we manage financial transactions. 

“So the combination of state-by-state regulations and the various federal laws means that we effectively have to move back from the public cloud to the on-premise world, to the extent where every state we operate in we need to have a physical data center, or multiple data centers to provide disaster recovery. 

“We have to have hosting environments that are managed and maintained on a daily/weekly basis. Each of the states are different shapes and sizes in terms of customers and actually each are growing at different rates and offer different products in each market. So in some cases we need significantly more hardware and network bandwidth.

Those challenges, explained Sweeney, have led FanDuel to figure out over the last two to three years how it can scale in a manageable and scalable way. “We want to be first to market. We want to be able to bring new and innovative products to our customers and the architecture needs to deal with that pace and scale. And the teams have been working very diligently over the last number of years to try to make that a reality.”

Sweeney was asked to expand on the relationship between FanDuel Group and AWS. “Hardware restraints exist globally and if you’re trying to build a business that wants to be first to market we can’t be complacent. We can’t take four to five months to build a data center, which is what it was in reality. I think with the best will in the world we managed to get a state-build timeline down to about 16 to 18 weeks and the bulk of that was waiting for hardware delivery.

“Global restraints got worse through COVID so we needed to go back and look for creative ways to continue to iterate and build those platforms and outposts and Amazon came with shorter lead times and we felt it was a reasonably safe option. We’re very comfortable with Amazon – we have a lot of tooling that’s developed around and deployed around Amazon.

We dipped our toe in the water at the start of this year with a small number of racks and since then we have found many other indirect benefits (from the relationship).” 

The second instalment of the series is available to view here