Now that the NHL is playing again, officepools.com can take its infrastructure off ice.
Vancouver-based Officepools.com is dedicated to helping groups of people (frequently people who work in the same office) set up hockey pools where players are tallied based on goals, assists and penalty minutes.
The site wasn’t shut down during the hockey strike, but traffic was so low it might as well have been. Owner and CEO Colin Briosi is braced for a comeback now that the NHL’s management disputes have been settled, the players are back in the game and fans are ready to bet on them.
Briosi said he spent the off year creating new features for his site, like a new “trash talk” system where pool members can post insults. He first saw a need for an online hockey pool system when he was working as a database consultant.
“I would work in four or five different offices per year and I noticed that every single office I worked in had a hockey pool. Even if they weren’t really hockey fans, everybody had a hockey pool. There was always some poor guy with an Excel spreadsheet who had to do the stats for everybody. It’s a thankless job.”
Briosi began building the engine for officepools.com in Oracle, “but then in 1996 I switched to the Internet and it’s a whole new world,” he said.
“The poor sap who used to run the Excel spreadsheet in the office can go to my site and take all the pieces of paper that people in the office had submitted and enter them himself. This is why one guy can service thousands of pools – I really don’t have to do anything but the nightly stats update.”
Briosi charges $20 per pool, regardless of the number of participants it has. He said his site attracts large corporate charity pools, with hundreds, sometimes thousands, of members. The larger pools may actually cost Briosi money but any loss will be offset by the word-of-mouth advertising they generate.
Officepools.com has been using Fusepoint Managed Services as its host for about five years, said Briosi. He built that software that the site runs on, but “what I can’t do is run the servers, the communications, the infrastructure and all that kind of stuff.”
He said he typically has very little contact with Fusepoint – and that’s the way he likes it – but notified the company that he would be back in business now that the NHL is ready to start its season.
Like most of Fusepoint’s customers, Officepools.com outsources full management of its site to the provider. As a result, “I never think outside my application’s needs and my users’ needs anymore,” said Briosi.
“They wanted the fully managed service. They realized that their expertise was in developing and marketing this office pool and that’s where they wanted to have their resources. (Co-location) was never a part of the discussion,” said Fusepoint president and CEO George Kerns.
Kerns added that he still has customers that prefer to co-locate, i.e. they own the servers but house them in a Fusepoint data centre, but more customers are gravitating to a full management package.
“There’s people that prefer co-location but we’re seeing more of an uptake on the managed side and that feeds more and more into our business plan. I think it’s principally because it’s complex, especially with all the threats out there. Kids today can launch viruses and worms and things like that and you have very little time to react,” he said.
Officepools.com used to offer a Major League Baseball pool, but it’s more complex to run since players are ranked on a bonus system. The site currently caters only to the NHL, but Briosi said he would consider adding other hockey leagues if there’s any interest from fans.