2022 in review

i3D.net 2022 in review
10 January 2023
We have witnessed massive growth on the platform, had the pleasure of working with more exciting partners and developers in the game and RTC industry, and celebrated the 20th anniversary of i3D.net in spectacular style. 2022 was a landmark year for all of us at i3D.net!  We take a look at some of the highlights of the past year in this article to contextualize them and assess how the changes help i3D.net provide an even better experience for our customers and users. 

Table of Contents

Celebrating 20 years

i3D.net celebrated its 20th anniversary in September. The festivities were held to commemorate 20 years of growth, from humble beginnings in Rotterdam as a startup to offices in multiple countries and an infrastructure footprint of 45+ PoPs spanning six continents. In this incredible journey, we have now reached the milestone of serving 583 million users per month, more than halfway on our road to 1 billion users. Providing this number of users with high-performance, low-latency services is no small challenge, but one that our team has risen to year after year. We are very proud of what has been accomplished and are excited to work towards even more progress! 

Expansion of the network

Expanding and strengthening our backbone network has always been a key priority and the past year was no different. 2022 saw our network reach 23+ Tbps connected capacity, with plans to continue expanding in 2023 as well. Increased network capacity allows our network to be more secure against load spikes and ultimately allows for a greater number of users to use the network simultaneously. 

Ranked #14 in the world and aiming higher 

With over 90 connections to internet exchanges (IX) globally, i3D.net’s network is ranked number 14 in the Internet Exchange Report in the Exchange Participants section and we expect to connect our network to more exchanges in the coming year. This is in line with our policy to make the network as localized as possible, with connections to the biggest and most widely used IXs on our network ensuring that users across the globe can be connected seamlessly. 

New Points of Presence 

We add an average of five new Points of Presence (PoPs) every year, and we are delighted to see that the infrastructure team went above and beyond to set up seven new strategically-placed PoPs to benefit the whole network in 2022! Each new PoP on the network helps us connect directly to ISPs in the region, while also allowing for users connected to be able to connect to the larger global network in turn. It also reduces the variables between the end user and our network, guaranteeing increased stability. 

Additional PoPs also allow for us to deploy security mechanisms even more effectively, due to the deployment of anti-DDoS and other similar services closer to the edge. For the customer, each new PoP brings a greater number of end users closer to them, providing the ability to expand in the region if needed alongside an automatic quality improvement due to the overall increased strength of the network. For the end user, each new PoP connects a larger number of users more directly — gamers and RTC users for instance, can benefit greatly from this.

Bolstering Central and Eastern Europe 

We set up new network PoPs in Stockholm, Oslo, Zürich, Vienna, and Milan in 2022 to strengthen the western European segment of our network. These locations provide added connectivity between major IXs and locations further away, thus reducing latency and increasing redundancy. We also added capacity to our Frankfurt location to allow for more traffic to pass through this crucial node in the global network. 

Similarly, we looked to fortify the Eastern European region by opening the Bucharest and Budapest PoPs in May. Network operators in the past have struggled to provide reliably localized connections in Eastern Europe. To mitigate this, we set up our own PoPs and planned for backbone redundancy with geographically diverse paths from Bucharest to three directions: Budapest (and behind that Vienna), Milan, and now Kyiv to provide a reliable link for users in Ukraine as well.

Standing together

Our Kyiv PoP has stayed online through the conflict and is still under consistent use by the residents of Ukraine. Setting up the third connection to Bucharest via Kyiv was important to the team in light of the Russian attack on Ukraine and the effect this has on network infrastructure. The redundancy of the Kyiv PoP has also been improved by replacing the Kyiv-Kharkiv-Moscow route with a new developed route through Kyiv-Odesa-Chișinău-Bucharest, which ensures that Ukraine and its citizens stay online in these difficult times. We will continue to invest in Ukraine as we believe that access to information is a fundamental right, and protecting it takes priority in times of conflict.

In a challenging year, starting with a restrictive supply chain, the COVID health crisis, increased economic pressure, an energy crisis and war impacting many, we have seen an increasingly significant role of our platform to keep the world connected. The growth in usage to over 583 million active users was only possible by the team going above and beyond, deploying to new regions while growing and upgrading existing services around the world. We are incredibly grateful to our customers and industry partners who utilize our platform to connect global audiences.

Stijn Koster, Managing Director, i3D.net

A third subsea cable and new ports in LATAM 

In 2022, we aimed to further localize the LATAM traffic and added new private peerings with leading ISPs in Buenos Aires, Argentina. This adds capacity, direct access to millions of end-users and further eliminates the need for third-party transit in the LATAM region. 

Our third 100G circuit from Ashburn to Paris went live this year via Dunant, the subsea cable that went online in 2022! Three separate circuits mean that the path between the EU and North America is more resilient than ever before. All of the paths land in completely different states or even countries on both sides of the ocean, and subsequently connect towards totally independent i3D.net PoPs, which protects our network against failures or outages on one route. Even unpredictable and potentially catastrophic events like Hurricane Sandy taking out most of the subsea cables landing near New York are mitigated through this. In case of an outage on other paths, the backbone design will automatically reroute our traffic and keep the network stable. 

Increasing capacity and finding new connections is a continuous process to eliminate the need for third-party transit and reduce latency even further by finding a more direct route for connection to our compute nodes across the network. The result is naturally a smoother and improved experience for customers and the end user. 

Prioritizing sustainability and efficiency 

Our data centers are growing. We operate our data centers under the Smartdc label, and the team is happy to report that the heat pump project is very close to completion at our Rotterdam data center! The three new heat pumps being installed allow us to save 800,000 m3 of gas per year. The carbon avoidance brought as a result of this sustainable project stands to benefit all customers operating out of Smartdc Rotterdam. We also continue to investigate more sustainable practices throughout our operations and will continue to investigate innovative ideas to further improve upon sustainability practices in 2023.

Looking ahead 

The year 2022 also reshifted some priorities, resulting in us transitioning away from Consumer Game Servers. We have offered this service from the early days of i3D.net in which we’ve found many players still playing older titles on our infrastructure, that we’ve now had to say goodbye to after helping them find a new home for their games. Our scaled-up software teams now have full focus on building and supporting products that provide our partners with more ease of use and additional services that complement our compute, connectivity and data center products. 

ONE Game Hosting Platform 

One of these products is our suite of software services dedicated to the game industry — the ONE Game Hosting Platform. ONE is a multifunctional platform designed to help developers and publishers alike manage their multiplayer game with great ease. Multiplayer games have become more and more live services that have to be managed, something our platform helps with. Whether that is keeping player communities safe and online due to our DDoS protection for games, distributing and updating game patches so players around the world play the latest version of the game without disruption, or our Orchestrator managing the balance between concurrent users (CCU) and the available infrastructure resources, scaling up and down automatically as needed to run your multiplayer game. And of course, with Unreal Engine 5 released in 2022, our SDK now also is available for easy integration with games built on Unreal Engine 5. 

In 2023, we will be offering more Game Online Services to support game studios, ranging from AAA to indie studios to help launch and keep their multiplayer games online.

Scale-up and consistent growth

In June, the Top 250 Dutch Scaleups for 2022 featured i3D.net in the list for the second year running! The research by the Erasmus Centre for Entrepreneurship at the Rotterdam School of Management (Erasmus University Rotterdam), and NLGroeit assessed a pool of 3000 fast-growing firms in the country to pick the top 250. i3D.net managed to keep its spot on this highly competitive list! Sustainable scaling is one of the core values here at i3D.net, focusing on the company’s growth while ensuring our employees want to continue their journey with us. This is what has made working at i3D.net so appealing for years! 

1st place in FD Gazelle once more

i3D.net won first place in the FD Gazelle for the second year in a row! 2022’s win came exactly ten years after our first FD Gazelle gold prize when we were awarded the award for the fastest growing startup. This year’s victory was in the category for large enterprises, which reflects the strides we have made in the past decade. And this is only one of the reasons for making this special. Within 10 years, i3D.net has won first place thrice, 3rd place once and has been nominated an additional five times. We are incredibly proud the company continues to grow consistently and has been awarded first prize as the fastest-growing, profitable company in the Netherlands for so many years. The fact that we have witnessed this consistent rise as a truly global performance hosting company shows how our team has planned for future growth and is implementing successful strategies to make the vision possible. Onwards to another successful year! 

2023 and beyond

2022 was undoubtedly fruitful, with upgrades to the global network and increasing partnerships with a growing base of customers and users. We aim for 2023 to be just as successful for all of those working with i3D.net and its products. We will continue to strive to bring you the best online experiences through top-tier compute and networking products this year and hope to speak to you about how we can best help with your hosting or network infrastructure needs! 

Main Take-Aways

2022 was a successful year with important expansions to the network and positioning i3D.net for a very promising 2023.