Keep to core business: How Internet Vikings is handling hosting

Having a physical server in a data center is not “core business”. Now, this is a stance which could be attributed to so many companies offering any sort of online service, but it definitely applies to igaming operators increasingly pressured in so many other key areas.

As part of this exclusive interview for SBC, Internet Vikings founder Rickard Vikström spoke about alleviating some of this pressure by taking full responsibility for hosting services which guarantee compliance, security and uptime for uninterrupted gaming.

And specifically for those igaming operators maintaining a licence in Malta, where Internet Vikings has recently opened a new data center.

“It’s quite interesting how the hosting world has evolved in the last five years,” said Vikström. “10-15 years ago, you needed to do hosting for igaming in key locations such as Gibraltar, Malta or Costa Rica. But now it’s been going towards more of a cloud setup, so you don’t need to have physical servers in these countries.

“If we take Malta, for example, you need to have a physical database replica, but the Malta Gaming Authority (MGA) made the change four years ago which means you don’t need to have your production environment there. 

“So you could have the main production environment elsewhere, but a replication back to Malta that is MGA approved. The customer benefits from hosting which complies with MGA regulation, but they don’t need it all to be based there if you consider problems over the years with DDos, bandwidth and other issues associated with Malta as an island.”

To clarify, while remote gaming operators may have their gaming equipment and servers located anywhere in the EU/EEA, a forensic live copy of the players’ database, financial transactions database and gaming transactions log database must be located in Malta. 

Of course, having the new data center significantly widens the potential client pool for Internet Vikings, both in terms of servicing new clients in Malta and existing clients who had previously been forced to work with multiple providers. 

However, it is not just this side of the Atlantic attracting the attention of Vikström and his team. And it might not surprise you to read his response when we posed the question of ‘where next?’ for extending this point of presence network. 

He replied: “We are especially interested in the US. We are looking into how we can open up a lot of states during Q2 and Q3 to provide a full solution to customers, both cloud hosting in those states but also colocation and dedicated servers depending on the regulation.”

It is important to frame the complexity of player data in the US, where the Wire Act dictates that you can’t transfer data or money between state lines. For example, if there’s a player in New Jersey you need to have the servers in Atlantic City.

“That is an issue for our customers, obviously, because they need to have server setups in every different state, not like in Europe where you can have one for the entire European Union,” explained Vikström.

“We’re trying to help our customers so they don’t have to pay 20x what they are paying in Europe to be in 20 states. We want to provide the same level of service, same technical setup but at a much more affordable price.”

The waters were further muddied last year by the invalidation of the Privacy Shield, the legal basis on which companies relied to transfer personal data from Europe to the US.

The Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) found that the Privacy Shield didn’t provide enough guarantees to keep the personal data safe from US surveillance programs.

This basically, said Vikström, makes it more difficult to transfer company sensitive data to the US. Organisations relying on it will need to make new arrangements to remain compliant with the high European standards for data protection. 

He added: “A US company is bound by US law, just like Internet Vikings is with Swedish law. We don’t have a law where a business owner has to hand over information to the police just because they feel so. That’s why in Sweden, as in many other countries in Europe, it is much safer for data than in China and the US.”

Offering a timeline of sorts to Internet Vikings’ on-the-ground presence in the US, Vikström concluded: “We are looking at how we can fast track this, in terms of how we enter the US quickly in the next nine months to help our customers who want to go there because we are having enquiries every week about what we can help them with in the US.”

To watch the interview in full, click HERE.

Internet Vikings will also be conducting a new webinar on 28 April titled ‘The new era or transferring data. Live with Max Schrems‘, which is dedicated to the issues of data transfers and privacy protection.

Schrems, a privacy rights activist who is the keynote speaker for the webinar, said: “We have been living in the information age long enough now to know that protection of our data is crucial.

“This ranges from commercial information to personal data. The webinar by Internet Vikings and Holm Security will touch on the key issues around international data transfers and surveillance.”

For more information and to register for this webinar, click HERE.

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