Most of you have probably heard or even played one of the many online games that take thousands of players into a single interactive world. One of the largest companies in this niche is Blizzard Entertainment, an American video game developer and publisher found back in 1991 under the name Silicon & Synapse and author of the most popular games in the gaming industry.
They operate World of Warcraft and the Battle.net gaming service for Starcraft and Diablo titles. Having in mind World of Warcraft is played by more than 12 millions users across three continents, could you imagine webhosting and server hosting needs for such an entity?
For years Blizzard Entertainment host its gaming infrastructure with AT&T, which provides data center space, network monitoring and management. This company supports Blizzard for already nine years but never gave much information about their hosting infrastructure. Allen Brack and Frank Pearce from Blizzard, however, provided the media with some details at a recent Game Developer’s conference in Austin.
Their online network services run in 10 data centers around the world, including facilities in Washington, California, Texas, France, Germany, Sweden, China, Taiwan and South Korea. They use 20, 000 systems and 1.3 petabytes of storage to power their gaming operations. This includes 13,250 server blades with 75,000 CPU cores total and 112 terabytes of RAM. It’s interesting that this whole wonder is managed by just 68 people.
The whole network is monitored from a global network operating center which like many similar features televisions tuned to the weather stations to track potential up-time threats across its data center footprint and act accordingly.
Something that always makes me wonder is why Blizzard never invested in their own data centers like Apple, Google and other IT giants. I wouldn’t call it a free hosting but at least it would be their own, rather than using AT&T Gaming Core team services who were formed in 2004 to host gaming operations using AT&T’s IP network. Blizzard even agreed to sign a contract renewal for another two years, stating that they’ve been pleased with their service over the years and that they are confident in their ability to continue to provide the needed quality support.