- Zynga is the poster child for high-growth social networking applications. Founded in 2007, the company is now the #1 social gaming site on the Web, with more than 70 million users playing Zynga games every day.
- FarmVille, one of Zynga’s most popular games, is the single largest application on Facebook and grew from 0 to 10 million daily active users in the first 6 weeks following its release.
- Using the RightScale Cloud Management Platform, just a few Zynga systems administrators easily manage thousands of FarmVille servers in the cloud.
- Zynga runs the majority of its production servers in the cloud with RightScale, taking advantage of full automation without sacrificing customization.
- The RightScale solution has been so successful that Zynga has launched six games in the cloud and thousands of nodes while continuing to grow extremely fast.
- RightScale has allowed Zynga to codify best practices for server deployments, which has made the need for training new systems administrators nearly non-existent.
Zynga Grows to #1 Social Gaming Site with RightScale
Zynga is the largest developer of social games on the Web, with such hugely popular titles as FarmVille, FrontierVille, Mafia Wars, Zynga Poker, Café World, Treasure Isle, YoVille, FishVille, and PetVille. Zynga’s “freemium” business model is simple and effective: Although many of its online games can be enjoyed for free, the company sells virtual goods for real money to its massive user base of gamers. The sale of these virtual goods accounts for 90 percent of Zynga’s revenue. With the skyrocketing popularity of Zynga games including FarmVille, which is one of the most popular applications on Facebook, Zynga’s technology strategy has to be as savvy as its business model. Zynga relies on the RightScale Cloud Management Platform and other cloud services to manage its precipitous growth, maintain high availability, and keep costs in check.
With RightScale, we can now launch hundreds of servers in minutes without the need for a large team of systems administrators to manage them.
Jayme Cox, Manager, Cloud Computing, Zynga
Zynga’s online games have experienced unprecedented popularity. Traffic for the company’s FarmVille – a social game where players create and share their virtual farms – grew from 0 to 10 million daily active users in the first 6 weeks alone. Today, with more than 70 million users, FarmVille is the largest social game on the Internet, with twice as many users as the next most popular Facebook game. As demand for FarmVille grew at an unprecedented rate, it became apparent that Zynga’s on-premise compute resources would not be able to keep up. In response, the Zynga team made the strategic decision to put FarmVille on a cloud infrastructure to be able to rapidly and cost-effectively scale on demand and keep up with the game’s growth.
The unparalleled popularity of Zynga’s games required the company to use a massive number of cloud servers – more than a thousand for FarmVille alone. The systems administrators at Zynga found that the basic cloud tools they were using to manage a large number of cloud servers and scripts made the process too time consuming. Zynga needed a way to take advantage of the cloud without having to hire a large team of highly trained administrators to manage it.
The solution Zynga found was the RightScale Cloud Management Platform – a comprehensive cloud management solution that provides an easy way to manage a massive number of cloud deployments with dynamic automated scaling and the flexibility to configure cloud deployments to meet the company’s unique needs.
The RightScale Solution
The RightScale Cloud Management Platform lets any organization tap the enormous power of cloud computing for scalable, cost-effective IT infrastructure on demand with complete control. RightScale reduces the complexity of cloud computing, enabling organizations to more easily deploy, manage, and dynamically scale complex business- critical applications across multiple clouds without the risk of lock-in at any level.
"RightScale helped us get to where we are today," said Jayme Cox, manager of cloud computing at Zynga. "A small team of Zynga system administrators are now able to manage all the cloud servers running FarmVille, as well as many other Zynga games. It would have been impossible to do what we've done without RightScale. It would take a large team of system administrators to manage this number of servers with this level of control without RightScale in a traditional data center."
RightScale’s unique approach to managing complete cloud deployments – comprising multiple servers and the connections between them – has been critical to Zynga’s success. Zynga’s deployments run smoothly, managed by an automation engine that adapts resource allocation as required by system demand, system failures, or other events, all of which are based on active monitoring to ensure real-time response to pre-defined triggers. In particular, RightScale’s dynamic auto-scaling and configurability have been key to Zynga’s managing large cloud deployments.
With dynamic auto-scaling, Zynga can automatically scale its application servers to respond to demand, configuring such factors as the minimum and maximum number of servers in an array, the threshold that needs to be exceeded to start scaling, and the speed at which the array scales. The Zynga team has fully utilized RightScale’s auto- scaling to bring new nodes online with minimal human interaction. The team creates alerts in RightScale and adds capacity automatically, eliminating the need to manually respond to traffic spikes. "The alerts are my favorite feature in RightScale because it offloads such a huge amount of sys-admin time," says Cox.
In addition, Zynga systems administrators have taken full advantage of RightScale’s pre-built cloud templates, called ServerTemplates™, to simplify deployments while also customizing them to meet their unique requirements. Zynga has developed internal tools and best practices that combine the use of ServerTemplates and the RightScale API to manage functional groups of servers, facilitate change, and ensure consistency in the production environments.
"We stopped worrying about having to create full images," said Cox. "We have been able to easily layer our customized configurations on top of the standard RightScale RightScripts™ that allow us to fire up hundreds of databases at a time. The elegance and power of the ServerTemplates and the construction of RightScripts result in huge, huge time savings. With RightScale, we can now launch hundreds of servers in minutes."