Ultimate Dream Teams, a fantasy sporting site, has over 35 000 users playing online football for the World Cup - a feat that GuruHut, their software developers, are very proud that they have had nothing to do with.
Ultimate Dream Team was launched in 2007 as a start up project. After the site's successful launch, the system that had been developed was struggling with capacity and site stability. Unable to cope with the load Ultimate Dream Teams called in GuruHut to redevelop the system and allow the site to scale in user numbers.
The successful reprogramming and launch under their belts, GuruHut and Ultimate Dream Teams started to discuss how to continue the relationship. One of GuruHut's ethical maxims is that they get in, deliver the job and get out; they don't attempt to insinuate themselves permanently into their clients' businesses.
This tied in with what Ultimate Dream Teams wanted, because they were hoping to carry out the site maintenance themselves. So GuruHut handed over the day to day operation and maintenance of the solution , while providing all the support necessary for Ultimate Dream Teams to run with it.
“They very much lived up to their initial defined process, and then supported us in having a team that does things themselves,” says site co-founder , Kevin Meltzer. “They have stayed close to us, though, and when required they help us with technical direction or consulting. They are like a sounding board for us, when not engaged in direct development. This is a role that they play very well - helping us to understand what we need to do to complete work.”
As strange as it may seem for GuruHut to cite Ultimate Dream Teams as a case study when they are so uninvolved, they use this relationship as an example of how they practice what they preach. The solution was delivered, and then they supported Ultimate Dream Teams in handling it themselves.
“One of our intentions was to enable them to stand on their own two feet, and they've been doing that for quite some time,” says Grant Finnemore, CEO of GuruHut. “What we've found is that after the initial work that we did getting the games up and running, we were able to hand over, and they can deal with each individual game that comes along.”
This year, of course, there has been a huge amount of activity around the World Cup, but that didn't mean a whole lot of development work for the site. “The World Cup is just another competition, from a programming perspective,” says Meltzer.
For the World Cup, Ultimate Dream Teams is running two games - one for SuperSport with over 29 000 users and the other for MTN with over 6 500, meaning that the system is comfortably accommodating 35 000 players without needing any further development or assistance.
Of course, once the relationship had been developed, underpinned by ethics, integrity and the delivery of a solid, working system, GuruHut were the go-to guys when any high-level development was needed. Now that Meltzer is planning an upgrade to Ultimate Dream Teams 2.0, they'll be bringing GuruHut back in to take their site to the next level.
“We're looking at the upliftment of our platform to version 2,” says Meltzer. “So far we've been working with the same version and made incremental improvements. Now, with the way that the world is moving with social networking, we need a new approach to incorporate these elements.”
Users will now be able to make personal comments in their statuses, so that they can say “watching the final” or “my team's going to win”. There will also be feature improvements that make it easier for people to play the game - small things that Meltzer says will be wrapped up into a much larger build. “Obviously we'll be engaging far more actively with Grant and GuruHut for that,” says Meltzer.