Alejandro Serrano: “We are working on several future proposals, including our own AI tool.”

Interview with Alejandro Serrano, co-founder of Calímaco

In a recent interview with casino.es, Alejandro states that at Calímaco, “We are working on several future proposals, including our own AI tool,” and that the company’s philosophy is based on “Keeping up with industry developments, continually evolving, and providing our clients with the most innovative technology and the best service on the market.”

Furthermore, in this interview, Alejandro talks about the importance of having a modular and flexible platform, focused on meeting the current needs of operators and based on a microservices architecture that facilitates client growth. Below is the full interview, or you can also read it in the news section of casino.es.

1. What is Calímaco? What prompted you to take the step to create the company?

Calímaco was born to address the major limitations that operators cannot overcome with their current solutions, of which more than 20 years of experience in the sector had made us very aware: with their traditional platforms, they cannot grow or evolve at the speed demanded by their players, nor meet the ever-increasing demands of regulations that continue to grow and extend to more areas. These restrictions are intrinsic to the technology they use and cannot be overcome without a complete reengineering.

Calímaco is made up of a group of engineers and professionals with very high reputation and experience. It is conceived from the reflection on the state of the gaming and technology sector, which in summary is: to achieve a platform that responds to the needs that operators will face from now on. This platform must be built from its design, starting from the fact that today it is a very competitive activity and increasingly regulated. Therefore, we think of a platform that enhances the strategic autonomy of the operator while taking advantage of broad supplier markets, with a focus on user experience, designed for change and continuous growth, for which all the possibilities offered by technology today must be used.

2. Why is it so important for an online gaming operator to choose the correct backend architecture, being a part of the business that users never directly see?

It is a very relevant question that we can ask ourselves in any field: why choose good machinery, a good architect, good engineering, a good lawyer… The answer is the same: because, although it may not be apparent at first glance, it is the architecture that will determine what can be done and what cannot, without creating problems, how correct and robust the solutions provided to them are, how adaptable they are as conditions and needs evolve. How many times do users directly see the mechanics of their cars? They experience it in use, in reliability, consumption, functionality.

It may seem logical and simple to do, but the architecture on which most platforms are built today is very limited, or they need to rely on development processes that are too slow and costly, making operators unable to keep up to date, and ultimately, unable to compete.

3. What are the major challenges that online gaming operators face in terms of technology?

Although it may sound simplistic, the main challenge facing all gaming operators is to successfully compete in an increasingly contested market, with demanding players who know what they want and regulations that are becoming more complex and strict.

What technology corresponds to, therefore, is to provide a solid foundation on which to rely and a lever to enhance their ability to compete, giving them the freedom and agility necessary to control their business as they see fit.

This is the opposite of what we frequently hear from operators; that their platforms constrain them almost more than they enable them to compete. They are constrained and inflexible solutions, a closed box from which it is very difficult to escape and in which it is very slow and complicated to introduce new elements, and therefore, a box that can never be made any bigger.

4. What solutions does your platform offer to address these challenges?

Operators have to meet three complementary and distinct needs: commercial agility, strategic autonomy, and quality service, to which the platform must respond simultaneously.

These involve both the technology itself and the way the platform is articulated within the operation. Thus, there may be great technology that, on the other hand, restricts the operator’s autonomy and subjects them to onerous checks when they want to make changes to their offer or operation. And the same goes for service, we are talking about very complex operations and operations in constant evolution that, to ensure their proper functioning and performance, must be attended to permanently and diligently.

Consequently, we address the three needs together: the best technology at the unequivocal service of the operator and supported by the best service. These are mere intentions, it is what determines the strategy, organization, and behavior of Calímaco.

5. What are the benefits of a microservices platform compared to monolithic solutions?

Ultimately, what matters is how the microservices architecture benefits the operator, and in summary, it greatly reduces costs and time to market, facilitates innovation, and adaptation to changing market circumstances, resulting in greater competitive agility.

Traditional monolithic applications have all processes closely interrelated and run in a single service. This results in greater complexity and fragility, making it difficult to implement new ideas, prone to errors when doing so, and limiting agility in incorporating new features.

With the microservices architecture, the application is composed of independent components, each running a process as an independent service, which provides multiple advantages compared to monolithic solutions. To mention a few without unnecessary complexities or making it too verbose to understand: scalability and flexibility (Each microservice can be scaled and updated independently, making applications easier to scale and faster to develop), ease of maintenance (Changes in one service do not affect others, reducing complexity and facilitating the implementation of new features), agile integrations with third-party software (games, payment methods, tools, etc.), diversified technology (Different technologies can be used, the most appropriate for each microservice).

6. What are the main characteristics and advantages in terms of scalability, flexibility, and maintenance?

Microservices require greater initial planning than a monolithic architecture, but in the long term, they are easier to manage and maintain. In addition, individual services can be modified without affecting the rest of the application, and independent microservices can be scaled without the need to scale the entire architecture, saving significant costs for the operator.

To give a practical example, suppose there is a problem with a game provider: A monolithic architecture would imply that, to solve it, multiple processes would have to be affected, increasing the likelihood of system errors. However, with a microservices architecture, it could be solved in isolation, quickly and effectively without affecting the rest of the application.

In terms of scalability, microservices architectures are far superior. Continuing with the examples, when a website becomes very popular (which is the goal of every operator), traffic increases, and so does the load on the server. If concurrent traffic continues to grow, the server can become overloaded, and the website becomes slower for users. To satisfy these high data volumes and return to a correct, fast, and reliable response, the server must be scaled, which, in monolithic architectures, as they function as a single process, affects the entire application. Additionally, they are a single point of failure, meaning a failure affects all functionalities and users. On the contrary, properly deployed microservices in the cloud are inherently scalable, server scaling is done automatically only for services whose demand requires it independently of the others. The same applies to failures, one in a service does not affect other services.

7. What strategies do you employ to ensure interoperability and integration with other technological solutions used by gaming operators?

Integration with third-party supplier products and technological solutions is done through APIs with calls for the invocation of operations and presentation of data.

Since all operations can be invoked through API calls, the operator can develop their own tools to interact with the Calímaco platform.

8. How is the performance of microservices managed and optimized to ensure a smooth gaming experience without interruptions for end users?

Having a team of expert developers with great knowledge of this architecture is the best response. Optimizing microservices and the associated code is essential to ensure the proper functioning of the architecture on which the platform is built. Ultimately, the best tool is of little use without a good musician.

At the same time, all operator facilities are actively monitored 24×7 with very rigorous service level commitments. This combination allows operators to provide a secure and uninterrupted gaming experience for end users, and the platform supports the largest traffic peaks in the industry, regularly performing over 4,000 operations per second without degradation.

9. How are security challenges addressed in a microservices architecture, especially in such a sensitive environment as online gaming?

Industries where large amounts of money are moved, such as ours, are very susceptible to attacks, so at Calímaco, we have a strong commitment to cybersecurity and fraud management.

It is not an add-on at the end, from design and programming, we analyze, audit, manage, and monitor security to prevent, repel, and respond quickly to cyberattacks when they occur, we carry out proactive external management of system, network, and application security, and ultimately, we seek to ensure the continuity of the operator’s business with a commitment to reduce cyber risk.

10. What have been the latest technological innovations you have implemented in your platform to improve the user experience and operational efficiency of gaming operators?

One of the advantages of the microservices architecture, which Calímaco applies, is that it allows continuous integration (CI), a software engineering practice that consists of making additions to an application very frequently, thus, the platform is in a process of permanent addition of functionalities.

Currently, we are working on several far-reaching proposals. One of them is our own artificial intelligence tool, which allows operators to interact with the platform in natural language. It allows launching questions to the database, creating user segments, statistics on games or providers, making age distributions of players, sending automatic promotions, etc. Things like “Create a group with players who want to receive promotions and send them an offer with new games for this weekend”, “Create a bar chart comparing the GGR contributed by different game providers”.

11. What is your vision for the future of the gaming industry?

We are in a booming industry, constantly seeing new innovations and proposals, both on the market side and on the technology side. There is a long way to go, new regulations, growing markets, products and payment systems in great demand, such as the eSports market, cryptocurrencies, casino telegram, etc.

Keeping up with industry developments, continually evolving, and providing our clients with the most innovative technology and the best service on the market is our philosophy.

12. What advice would you give to someone thinking of starting their online journey in the gaming industry?

We do not consider ourselves qualified to give advice to anyone since it is us who learn from our operators. What we can say will be obvious and will be limited to the “Western Hemisphere” – the eastern one (Asia and the Pacific) we do not know. Here, what one finds is highly competitive markets, with more and more regulated countries every day. A newcomer would do well to study the market in which they are going to operate and look for a segment in which they can make a novel contribution. It would be convenient for them to have sufficient means to do marketing on par with their competitors and have endurance, considering it more as a marathon, which may be easier for those coming from the physical world, although, physical and online gaming are different activities with little transfer of knowledge between them.

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