"IaaS is the most appropriate infrastructure solution for social games, web-based games, mobile applications — any applications or products that can have a short lifespan — because you don't need to worry about the upfront infrastructure costs of hosting applications or back-end infrastructure. You're able to use what's appropriate for you at the time, iterate quickly, and if your game isn't a success, you can easily scrap what's been done."
So says Ronnie Regev, an enterprise product manager at RightScale. Before he joined RightScale, Regev spent nine years at Ubisoft, where he was senior manager of online game operations and architecture at the prominent gaming company. He shared some of the lessons he learned about using the cloud for mobile, social, and games at the recent RightScale Compute conference.
Ronnie Regev’s presentation at RightScale Compute
Regev stressed the importance of focusing on business objectives. The finance team can be your best friend, he said. You need to know what both your financial objectives are and your costs are. Regev said he spent a lot of time with people in finance trying to understand what they were looking for and teaching them about cloud costs and how they differ from, say, amortizing the cost of traditional data center hardware over three years. Finance knows the difference between capital and operational expenses, but maybe not how to budget for that over the lifecycle of a game. Helping finance understand the new cloud model ahead of time can make your life easier.
Regev also said companies that are further along with the DevOps model will have more success deploying code quickly and meeting business objectives. One thing he did to promote that, he said, was to change the ops team's objectives from an emphasis on infrastructure uptime to no drops in currently connected users. On their own they had little control of that metric, so the ops staff had to work more closely with developers for continuous integration to release new builds to meet that goal. It was a struggle at first, Regev said, but it became easier the more familiar the teams got with the DevOps process.
An initial success leads to more positive results on future projects, yielding another lesson: Cloud success breeds cloud success. (This echoes the results of our State of the Cloud research, which found that the more experience an organization has with cloud, the better able it is to cope with cloud challenges.) As employees in one part of an organization see the success that colleagues are having with rapid deployment or working closely with developers, they ask to get the same benefits.
Tools are also important. Regev found RightScale to be a helpful solution for launching games. For instance, Ubisoft used ServerTemplates™, which combine a base image with settings and scripts to enable enterprises to quickly spin up properly configured servers customized for any needs. The ServerTemplates in the RightScale MultiCloud Marketplace™ are carefully designed and a great starting point. They let organizations that may not be familiar with provisioning or setting up a given application get a jump start. Organizations can also custom build ServerTemplates to suit their particular needs.
At Ubisoft, Regev took advantage of the RightScale professional services staff, which performs deployment reviews with organizations to help engineer their infrastructures. Following that, professional services builds highly available reference architectures, which are reviewed on an ongoing basis to be sure that RightScale customers use the latest and best tools.
Not having any idea what your costs are going to be makes it difficult to get any formal approval for expenditures, so Regev recommends using the cloud cost forecasting solution PlanForCloud.com, along with the monitoring and chargeback features available with the RightScale Enterprise Report Manager.
If you're interested in learning how to use the cloud and RightScale to manage your gaming platform as top social gaming companies Zynga, EA, and Playfish do, sign up for a custom demo of RightScale.