It’s all just fun and games...until it’s not

Speed, scale and security: the three S's of online gaming networks and application infrastructures.

star wars video games
GOG.com

Ever wonder what industry faces the highest number of distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks?

Logic would dictate it’s finance, because of all that money; or healthcare, with all of the confidential patient information.

Wrong!

It’s online gaming. Online gaming faces the highest number of DDoS attacks than any other industry.

Why?

Gaming is most targeted mainly because of the competitive spirit of gamers. A gamer starts slipping. His high score dwindles. His competitors advance. And instead of losing gracefully, he quickly spins up a DDoS attack, attacks the game’s servers and – voila! – the game is rendered unplayable, and there goes any evidence of the loss.

The challenge, if you choose to accept it

Securing gaming networks and application infrastructures presents unique challenges: first, they must be high performance and low latency to deliver gameplay in real-time; and second they must scale to serve thousands of concurrent users from various geographies.

Running a high-performance gaming network at scale has been compared to running an enterprise-grade network: users want services delivered quickly and without interruption. From a networking perspective, low latency and a flawless network experience is mandatory – and predictability is demanded.

Gaming companies are very aware that gamers – their end users – are mindful of their experience, and if not satisfied, can easily switch games or gaming platforms, which ultimately can impact their business. Gamers ae also vocal; and a bad experience will be shared.

A distributed platform

To give their customers the best possible gaming experience, companies want to be as close to gamers as possible. To do this they have established a distribution platform that creates massive points of presence – via widely distributed data centers that avoid sending signals across oceans or continents to connect gaming competitors.

Gaming is unique in the scale of bi-directional, real-time data path and its sensitivity to latency, packet loss, scale of player access and geodiversity of users. 

That, coupled with gaming being a frequent target of DDoS attacks, creates a dilemma for networking and security vendors who need to protect gaming companies and their customers while also delivering a fast and responsive real-time experience.

it’s “organized chaos,” and networking and security providers must combat this challenging scenario head on to deliver a real-time environment that can’t afford a fraction of a second of disruption.

Your three most useful weapons

To deliver a high-performance and secure gaming network requires three things: 

1. Speed

Gamers have a need for speed. They demand it. The slightest hiccup could change the outcome. Therefore, gaming networks need to be high performance and must process requests at lightning speeds. Gaming providers can optimize the performance of their networks and reduce lag with services such as global server load balancing (GSLB) to ensure traffic is distributed intelligently across resources and geographies.

2. Scale

If 10,000 gamers slam your servers simultaneously, your network best be able to support them. Gaming networks must scale to not only accommodate swells in concurrent sessions, but must also scale to maintain peak loads throughout lengthy gameplay. Many gaming providers have turned to public cloud services and cloud-native application delivery controllers to ensure swift scaling and bursting of application services as demand and usage grows.

3. Security

If you’re a gaming provider, you need to ward off DDoS attacks. Period. You need not only DDoS detection to sniff out and alert you to attack traffic and anomalies,  but you need precise mitigation that snuffs out the problem before any interruption. Mitigating the risk of downtime while reducing costs and protecting your reputation is imperative and requires application security, such as proactive, terabit-scale DDoS protection, to defend gaming infrastructure.

Gaming networks and application infrastructures present some of the world’s most challenging environments to architect and operate. Focusing on the three S’s of online gaming: speed, scale and security, can help deliver non-stop gameplay to gamers and ensure high performance from the first level to the final boss.

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