The second installment in the Road to Resilience webinar series covered why network resilience is a necessity when managing distributed infrastructure. The discussion was hosted by Roy Chua, Principal at AvidThink, and featured Rick Sloot, the COO of i3D.net and Alan Stewart-Brown, VP EMEA at Opengear.
How gamers benefit from an unseen high-performance global network
Rick Sloot is the Chief Operating Officer of i3D.net, a global low latency service provider. He explained that i3D.net has over 40 locations worldwide and among other things, support several AAA game publishers. I found out that they have the biggest development and advertising budgets and are generally considered to be high quality, bestselling games. These publishers, like EA and Ubisoft who produce massively popular games like FIFA can’t afford to take chances with the networking behind the scenes. I3D.net also supports Discord, a communications platform popular with gamers that has hundreds of millions of registered users.
Rick Sloot said that i3D.net started in 2005 with one center in the Netherlands. Now they’re up to 40 locations and will be expanding by 10 more opening in the next six months. I wasn’t surprised to hear that the gaming industry is doing very well during the pandemic. Rick mentioned that in the last six months since Covid started they have had games that have been around for five years and are now breaking all-time records in terms of numbers of players.
In the gaming industry, it’s even more critical to avoid and mitigate outages. Rick said, “if a website is offline for 10 seconds you just wait and you get connected, but if a game is offline or a game can’t connect for even two seconds it means a million players drop off. That’s why we consider ourselves performance hosting.”
Research on evolving attitudes of network resilience
Next, Alan Stuart-Brown presented some results from a 2019 survey of 500 global IT leaders. They were asked how the number of outages has changed over the last 5 years. I was surprised to learn that instead of decreasing, on average outages have increased.
Another interesting question was what are the biggest challenges in resolving network issues. Surprisingly, even in the pre-covid world, travel time was the biggest. I’m sure that’s even more of a challenge now. The second biggest issue was a lack of in-house engineering resources.
The end result of the survey was that organizations are increasing network resilience in a number of ways, the top three being bringing in new security systems, increasing automation, and enhancing network automation. These are all things that i3D.net depends on Opengear for.
The benefits of an independent Out-of-Band management network
Alan talked about why many Opengear customers needed an independent Out-of-Band management network and chose Opengear for it. He said, “i3D.net and many of our customers chose Smart OOB because they recognized that they just couldn’t get to places quickly if there was a problem.” It’s even harder now with Covid and a worldwide shortage of skilled engineering resources, particularly data center people.
But Opengear’s benefits don’t stop there. Alan related a recent customer story.
“A large global service provider that operates in 50 countries and uses Opengear and Lighthouse extensively, initially invested in Opengar to reduce the necessity of on-site visits. During an SD-WAN software update to one appliance in one location there was a human error that got sent to several hundred of the SD-WAN appliances and took the whole network out. They had the foresight to be using Opengear’s Network Resilience Platform. They were able to quickly remediate. It took less than an hour what would have taken days and days to fix.”
Not only that, they were able to roll back to a previous version of the SD-WAN firmware and do the whole thing through Lighthouse.
Alan brought up Opengear’s newest next generation Console Server. It’s a NetOps enabled device that includes a TPMC (Trusted Platform Module Chip) to allow secure day one provisioning, not just for emergency use. He concludes, “Customers can put their put their various configs and their boot images on the device, safe in the knowledge that it cannot be tampered with because the data is encrypted at rest and in transit and can only work via via Lighthouse so it adds another layer of protection and security.”
Roy Chua introduced the topic for the next in the series “Network Resilience: The Key to Uptime” featuring Mark Harris of the Uptime Institute.
Watch the Full Webinar with i3D.net Now