Ready for the launch

A look behind the scenes of global game hosting - part one.

Publish date: March 1, 2019

i3D.net is one of the leading game hosting providers in the world, with 100 million gamers using our servers daily. But how does i3D.net implement the hosting of a new game, install and maintain new servers and keep them secure? With a series of interviews, we will introduce you to this process and the team members that make it happen. This is part one of the series - read part two here.


When you walk into a room full of developers and operational specialists while ignoring a sign ‘war room’, you will see something that looks like synchronized swimming on dry land. The whole room will simultaneously lift up from their chair, pull off their headphones and look at you like, ‘come on, can’t you read?’. Fortunately, for this interview we will sit down with Frank Limburg, Senior Project Manager at i3D.net to talk about his role in the process of setting up global hosting for a new game.
 

Frank, why did I get the evil eye when I walked into the room?  
FL: The team is zoned in. We are in the process of delivering servers for the open beta of one of the biggest games of the year. After months of preparations this is the week where everything has to come together. The team is working round the clock to make sure everything runs as smoothly as possible.

Can you tell me about your role within i3D.net? 
FL: i3D.net is specialized in game hosting. As senior project manager, I am responsible for the large-scale hosting projects. By that, I mean hosting games for game publishers with a player base of millions. The time and money that has gone in to developing these games is enormous and the publishers expect nothing but the best of our services.

When a new project starts, a team is assembled. This team exists out of myself, a junior project manager, network operation specialists, developers and game operation specialists. I then create an extensive time planning and make sure everyone is properly informed and knows what is expected from them and the team. From there, I manage the whole process from start to end and work closely with the team and the customer.

As senior project manager, I am responsible for the large-scale hosting projects.

Where does it all begin for you?  
FL: After our technical sales team and the customer have determined the needs, possibilities, solutions, terms and conditions, I step into the game. 

I sit down with the sales team to discuss what needs to be done, the amount and types of servers that are needed, locations where we need to be present and a time planning. I then present this to the team in a kick-off meeting.

Can you walk us through your latest project? 
FL: That was a project where we installed game servers in 10 data centers around the world; Rotterdam, Warsaw, Dubai, Hong Kong, Tokyo, Sydney, Los Angeles, Ashburn, Dallas and São Paulo. In every location we had to install a specific set-up:  

  • 3x support servers 
  • 3x monitoring servers  
  • 2x advanced virtual firewalls 

We also had to install a total of 650 game servers, spread over the 10 previously mentioned locations. For this project we had to meet hard deadlines for the closed beta, open beta and official launch of the game. The time management was very challenging because we had to fly team members to every location, install servers and ship equipment all over the world.  

We installed a total of 650 game servers spread over 10 locations worldwide.

Why does the team visit every location?   
FL: Well, as I said earlier, these are large-scale projects where big investments are made to create the best gaming experience for the player base of our customer. For this project alone we ordered millions of dollars of new equipment:

  • 330 new servers 
  • 2000 RAM modules
  • 155 RAID controllers
  • We added 14 new racks 

To ensure that everything is installed in accordance to our high standards and within the defined time frame, we rather fly our highly skilled team members across the world than work with remote hands on location of which we don’t know the qualifications.

What is the biggest challenge you face during a project like this? 
FL: Well if I must pick one thing, it’s the combination of shipping material and planning the trips for the team members. The ideal scenario is, when a team member is present at a location when a shipment arrives. After all, it is valuable equipment, which we know how to handle and therefore like to receive ourselves.  

When you ship to countries like the US, it always takes the same time to ship equipment, more or less. Hong Kong for example, is a different story. You never know exactly when or if your shipment comes through customs. In these cases, it sometimes happens that a team member literally has a few hours to pack his suitcase and head for the airport.

Sounds to me like you have a stressful job. What do you love about it? 
FL: Millions of people come home from work or school and turn on their computer or console in a hurry, because their friends are already online. When screen lights up and they connect to a game server almost instantly, they are ready to do what they are passioned about: gaming! 

Our work is done behind the scenes, but when I think about the impact we have on the player base of a game, I forget about the stressful times and long hours and just feel proud of what we do. 

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