Cloud

Kentucky Derby goes digital: Churchill Downs moves critical apps to the cloud with AWS

The famous racetrack moved its TwinSpires.com site to Amazon and was able to sustain 35 millisecond response times.

Building a slide deck, pitch, or presentation? Here are the big takeaways:
  • Churchill Downs has moved 80% of its mobile wagering platform to the cloud with Amazon Web Services.
  • By the end of 2018, Churchill Downs plans to have all of its critical apps moved to the cloud.

If you're betting on the 2018 Kentucky Derby, there's a good chance your wager will go through the Amazon Web Services (AWS) cloud platform.

As part of its digital transformation efforts, Churchill Downs, the home of the Kentucky Derby, has moved more than 80% of its mobile wagering platform infrastructure and application portfolio to AWS, according to a press release. What's more is that the institution wants to migrate every one of its mission-critical apps to the cloud by the end of the year.

Churchill Downs isn't just an historic track in Louisville, KY. As noted in the release it operates racetracks and casinos in multiple states, and its mobile wagering platform for horse racing is a huge part of its business.

SEE: Cloud migration decision tool (Tech Pro Research)

The Downs began its move to the cloud with Twinspires.com, what the release described as "the official online wagering site of Churchill Downs and the Kentucky Derby." In addition to placing bets, race fans use the platform to research horses and watch races happening around the world, the release said.

"During the Triple Crown series alone, over $124 million in legal wagers were placed using TwinSpires.com with major spikes in traffic hitting minutes before the biggest races," the release said.

With that kind of variable use, the elasticity of the cloud seems like a natural fit. With AWS's scalability, the platform handled an "unprecedented volume of wagers and new customer registrations" while keeping response times down to 35 milliseconds, the release noted.

"The Kentucky Derby is our Black Friday consolidated into about eight hours," David Kurtz, senior director of Cloud Operations at Churchill Downs, said in the release. "We only use the bulk of our infrastructure around two percent of the year, experiencing unpredictably high customer traffic less than 10 days out of the year. Running on-premises made it nearly impossible to scale quickly enough for the volume we face at peak load times, so we turned to the cloud with the most functionality for help."

In addition to using AWS to host its critical apps, Churchill Downs is looking to expand its use of the platform, working with machine learning in the future to improve the experience for users. However, the release didn't specify how the organizations planned to use machine learning.

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About Conner Forrest

Conner Forrest is a Senior Editor for TechRepublic. He covers enterprise technology and is interested in the convergence of tech and culture.

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