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Next Generation Server Solution

A network is only as strong as its weakest link. Mobile raffle solutions use a basic client/server network solution to manage and secure the raffle. First generation solutions used an onsite server to collect data and to coordinate raffle ticket generation. However, onsite servers suffer from several environmental vulnerabilities. The next generation of solutions have moved the server offsite in order to minimize the impact of these environmental vulnerabilities.

TAP 50:50 uses a secure internet data center (IDC) to house their centralized server. They are kept in a locked cabinet, in a temperature controlled environment, that has battery backup power, a diesel generator, and access to the room requires both biometric and keycard access. Furthermore the server room’s access is constantly monitored and logged. Infrared and video surveillance is performed and the footage is archived. Every employee of the IDC has a criminal background check performed and no one is allowed access to the room without being accompanied by an employee. Furthermore, the server is behind a physical firewall and has a failover setup so that if one server fails a second server can be up and running without loss of service. It is hard to imagine a more robust and secure solution. These kind of precautions are impractical for an onsite server.

The Scary Stuff

A number of environmental vulnerabilities make onsite server solutions less secure and less robust potentially compromising the smooth operation of a charity raffle. A centralized server helps minimize the impact of environmental vulnerabilities like:

  • Loss of power
  • Server hardware failure
  • Virus or malware infection

Loss of Power

The TAP 50:50 offsite server solution uses both battery backup and diesel powered generators to ensure that an occasional power outage doesn’t disrupt service. Onsite servers may have the same precautions in place but any particular venue may not have these precautions in place for their servers. Furthermore, it is a priority for an IDC to ensure disruptions to its server environment are minimized while a stadium’s priorities are more likely to be aligned with people’s safety therefore its power backup resources are likely dedicated to lighting and temperature control.

Server Hardware Failure

The TAP 5050 offsite server solution maintains its servers in an optimum environment. The power is “clean”, the server rooms are temperature controlled, and the environment is kept dust free. These precautions help prevent hardware failure. Furthermore, redundancies are built in to the servers so that when a failure occurs loss of service is minimized. These redundancies include RAID 10, automated backup, and a failover server which kicks in when one server fails.

The environment at a stadium is not necessarily optimal for server performance. If they do have a dedicated server room with the aforementioned environment they do not necessarily allow foreign servers (i.e. the charities) be hosted there as they may view this server as a source of vulnerability.

Virus or Malware Infection

Physical access or logical access to a server increases the chance of virus, trojan or other malware infection. At a secure IDC every precaution is taken to prevent unauthorized physical access to a server. At an IDC these precautions include:

  • Keycard and biometric locks which log access
  • Criminal record checks for any employees with access to rooms
  • Supervising any visits to the server environment by unauthorized personnel
  • 24 hour video camera monitoring with footage archived

In an onsite environment it is unlikely that these precautions take place. An onsite server is vulnerable to being “repurposed” by onsite personnel or by a malicious user during “off” hours. Browsing the web, checking email, using the USB ports, are all potential sources of infection. At best a virus could disrupt a raffle. At worst malware could be used to compromise a raffle’s integrity.

The Care and Feeding of Your Server

Maintaining a server is serious business and is absolutely necessary to ensure it is secure and performing efficiently.  TAP 50:50 doesn’t believe that this important process should be left in the hands of the charity. By centralizing our server we remove this necessity making the operation of the raffle easier for the operator. The charity has no need for in house expertise to maintain its server.  Since the server is the core of our solution we maintain the server ourselves and take every precaution to ensure that it is operating efficiently, reliably, and securely.