LeaseWeb Blog http://blog.leaseweb.com LeaseWeb is a quality hosting provider and operator of a first-class worldwide network. Tue, 23 Aug 2016 12:53:29 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Live Transcoding Made Simple and Easy http://blog.leaseweb.com/2016/08/23/live-transcoding-made-simple-easy-leaseweb/ http://blog.leaseweb.com/2016/08/23/live-transcoding-made-simple-easy-leaseweb/#respond Tue, 23 Aug 2016 12:53:29 +0000 http://blog.leaseweb.com/?p=5047 In today’s age of livestreaming events and concerts, the numerous and diverse amounts of mobile devices, desktops and TV’s pose a challenge for any content distribution creator.  Julien Lehmann, Product Manager for CDN and Cybersecurity at LeaseWeb previews the new service of live transcoding, a service that simplifies your workflow, that will be launched during […]

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In today’s age of livestreaming events and concerts, the numerous and diverse amounts of mobile devices, desktops and TV’s pose a challenge for any content distribution creator.  Julien Lehmann, Product Manager for CDN and Cybersecurity at LeaseWeb previews the new service of live transcoding, a service that simplifies your workflow, that will be launched during IBC 2016 in Amsterdam.

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Why we organize Hackathons at LeaseWeb http://blog.leaseweb.com/2016/08/11/organize-hackathons-leaseweb/ http://blog.leaseweb.com/2016/08/11/organize-hackathons-leaseweb/#respond Thu, 11 Aug 2016 06:35:11 +0000 http://blog.leaseweb.com/?p=5036 LeaseWeb kicked off its sixth quarterly Hackathon on Thursday, July 21st. The Hackathons are a chance for employees to step outside the usual routine and allow them to get creative, work together in new ways, and have fun. Participants are given two full days and nights to work on any kind of project whether it’s […]

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PrivateNetwork_2_ScaleLeaseWeb kicked off its sixth quarterly Hackathon on Thursday, July 21st. The Hackathons are a chance for employees to step outside the usual routine and allow them to get creative, work together in new ways, and have fun. Participants are given two full days and nights to work on any kind of project whether it’s to solve a work problem, learn a new skill, or try out a personal project they’ve had in mind. Whatever it is, they have the complete freedom to try something new with the goal being to present a functional demo at the end of the second day.

Hackathons begin with a presentation where all of the participants gather to kick things off. Everyone receives a Hackathon t-shirt designed specifically for the event and then they hunker down to start work on their projects. Hackathon isn’t just for the engineering department and individuals from all parts of the company are encouraged to participate.
image3Perhaps someone in marketing has been thinking about a new tool that could help them do their job better. They might team up with an engineer to try and create that tool. New ideas and collaborations that might not have otherwise fit into the usual busy schedule are given the opportunity to be developed and tested. Several projects and tools that have been created during Hackathons have been integrated into day to day operations.

After working hard all day Thursday, participants took a break to have dinner and some fun. A barbecue spread was set out and there was plenty of chicken, burgers, salad, and beer to go around. A 45 meter inflatable obstacle course was set up in the parking lot and participants competed with each other to see who could get the best time. The winner completed the course in just over 30 seconds. After a bit more relaxation everyone was ready to get back to working on their projects. Some stayed late into the night and crashed at the office, others went home to grab some sleep before coming back in the next morning to finish up before the afternoon presentations.

Friday afternoon everyone gathered together to show off their hard work. We had 11 presentations from 35 participants. The projects covered a wide variety of ideas from a data gathering tool for interactions with customers to automated cloud scaling based on sets of parameters such as CPU load or memory usage. There were also new tools for tracking deployments, an API created to check the availability of available top-level domains, and an application to take info from Jira and print it onto sticky notes.

inflateOnce everyone presented their projects a vote was taken to decide the winner who receives a fancy trophy to display in their office until the next Hackathon. The winner of Hackathon built an API to query a centralized GEO IP database for location information and then convert it into JSON for readability and combined it with Kubernetes for scalability. This idea for this project was to try and find a solution to teams using multiple databases to obtain geographical IP data. Honorable mention: the runner-up was a collaboration between business intelligence and engineering team members who worked together to create a new way to generate concise invoices for customers with the option to request a more detailed version.

Overall, Hackathon 6.0 was a great success. Exciting projects with future potential were developed and everyone had a great time with the obstacle course, hanging with their coworkers while enjoying good food and beer. Anticipation is high for the next Hackathon which takes place in October. Would you like to join? We’re always on the lookout for new colleagues!

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LeaseWeb and Scopic: Building Virtual Bridges with Hybrid Cloud http://blog.leaseweb.com/2016/08/02/leaseweb-scopic-building-virtual-bridges/ http://blog.leaseweb.com/2016/08/02/leaseweb-scopic-building-virtual-bridges/#respond Tue, 02 Aug 2016 14:00:29 +0000 http://blog.leaseweb.com/?p=5028 Guest blog written by Leon Horbach of high-end VR production company Scopic. In a world that is more characterized by global connectivity than ever before, Cloud hosting providers such as LeaseWeb play vital roles. The seamless transportation of data, in combination with rock-solid security and innovative products, are key factors when making both the private […]

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scopicGuest blog written by Leon Horbach of high-end VR production company Scopic.

In a world that is more characterized by global connectivity than ever before, Cloud hosting providers such as LeaseWeb play vital roles. The seamless transportation of data, in combination with rock-solid security and innovative products, are key factors when making both the private and professional world working smoothly. It was therefore no coincidence that we (Scopic, a high-end virtual reality (VR) production company), teamed up with LeaseWeb in order to accomplish a riveting VR project.

The idea? Enabling thousands of fans from all over the globe to attend world-famous DJ Hardwell’s ‘Revealed’ party live during the Miami Music Week 2016. This was the first test for VBR (Virtual Broadcasting Reality), Scopic’s little sister that is solely focused on VR live streaming. By utilizing LeaseWeb’s infrastructure and their know-how of cloud, encoding/transcoding and CDN, Scopic was able to stream exciting 360° content, uniting Electronic Dance Music enthusiasts by building virtual bridges. It was this shared idea of what technology should encompass, a means of uniting people instead of separating them, that brought LeaseWeb and Scopic together.

We can see this cooperation as a prime example of a positive inter-complementary relationship between an international corporation and a young tech start-up, the former discovering new markets and outlets through collaborating with growing disruptive companies, and the latter benefiting from the experience and strength of the larger corporation. Also, there is a similarity in character between the two, seemingly different, companies. Both Scopic and LeaseWeb present themselves, as cheesy as it may sound, as the ‘cowboys’ of their respective industries: international orientation, Dutch roots, innovative focus, and always exploring new markets. Just as Con Zwinkels, CEO and founder of LeaseWeb, discovered opportunities in this business while being a pilot, both Justin Karten and Yori van Gerven saw VR’s potential and acted accordingly.

This project was merely the beginning of something that will hopefully become a beneficial partnership between Scopic/VBR and LeaseWeb. Together, these companies can take an exciting new medium, virtual reality, to the next level. With VR broadcasting, internet connectivity, and solid products in the broadcasting pipeline, are key factors in producing a successful project. From optimizing servers, creating transcoding products, and smart data communication between the player and the hybrid cloud, LeaseWeb is becoming part of the solid VBR product.

VR still is a growing, immature market. Therefore, partnerships like the one mentioned above and the synergy they provide, are necessary to generate innovative breakthroughs. With international sales of VR headsets (Gear VR and Oculus Rift) growing rapidly, the time is now to create market traction in an effective way. LeaseWeb and Scopic are doing just that.

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Harnessing Millions of CDN Statistics With Apollo http://blog.leaseweb.com/2016/07/28/harnessing-millions-statistics-apollo/ http://blog.leaseweb.com/2016/07/28/harnessing-millions-statistics-apollo/#respond Thu, 28 Jul 2016 11:04:50 +0000 http://blog.leaseweb.com/?p=5013 At LeaseWeb, our CDN team focuses on delivering ultra-high performance globally for any content while remaining the most competitive player in the field. We process and monitor millions of requests per minute and that level of traffic requires a robust and flexible statistics platform that provide us and our customers with real-time accurate information. Our […]

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cdn graphAt LeaseWeb, our CDN team focuses on delivering ultra-high performance globally for any content while remaining the most competitive player in the field. We process and monitor millions of requests per minute and that level of traffic requires a robust and flexible statistics platform that provide us and our customers with real-time accurate information.

Our previous statistics platform had several issues that didn’t allow us to get the most accurate picture of what was happening. The data was analyzed on the content-serving edge nodes. In order to consume as little resources on these nodes as possible, the data was sampled instead of counting every hit. The result was an approximation rather than an exact number. Another issue was resilience: the old platform had stability issues that might result in inaccuracies. We needed something that was reliable, wouldn’t consume edge-node resources, would record every hit, and would provide instantly precise counts for us and our customers.

Our goals for the new platform were as follows:

  • Real-time statistics. This is easier said than done with several hundreds of machines producing 60,000 log lines per second (200 million per hour). We wanted to build future-proof systems to be able to handle at least ten times as much load.
  • Open-source components – we wanted to use tested and proven tools. Recent developments in horizontally scalable systems by the Apache Kafka and Cassandra DB projects addressed our needs for this project.
  • Horizontal scalability – we wanted to be able to quickly and seamlessly add hardware capacity.
  • Relieve resource load on the edge-nodes by moving the processing to a separate cluster. The only process needed would be a simple log reader that would send the data to a cluster. This would ensure maximum performance at all times.
  • High-availability clusters to ensure there is no loss of data collection with a minimum of three hosts.
  • Geo-redundancy – the platform would run in multiple data centers so that the loss of a location would not result in an outage.

With these goals in mind we decided on the following architecture, calling the project Apollo:

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The edge nodes run the Apollo Log Reader which sends the log lines to the Apache Kafka Message Queue cluster. From there the log lines are sent to the Apollo Agent cluster to process the data. Each Apollo Agent host has a manager which spawns and checks the Agent processes. These Agents consume the log lines sent from the Kafka cluster, update the counters in Cassandra DB, and process the data for a specific type of statistic, depending on the type of agent it is. Different agent types retrieve different types of statistics from a log line.
Some of these types typically include:

  • Traffic / bandwidth: the number of hits per second, number of bits per second.
  • Cache offload: how many hits/bits are served by our CDN, offloading client’s web servers.
  • Geo: where the client’s users are located.

The Agents are built to be horizontally scalable. If additional capacity is needed more Agents can be spawned to meet the demand. Fault tolerance is addressed in a number of ways: Any failed queries are saved to disk and re-executed later. If an agent fails, it will respawn. If all of the agents on a host stop running, the agents on other hosts will take over.

To view all of this data we are collecting we created monitoring tools using Prometheus and Grafana. These graphs display such information as:

  • Load (activity) of machines
  • Error rates of applications
  • Global traffic
  • Top customers
  • Recency of statistics per edge, so we know when an edge stops sending log data to our platform for any which reason.

For Kafka we wanted to look at multiple data points. Our ingest and throughput graph is used to get a general idea of the total amount of log lines that are processed by the Kafka cluster. It also allows us to check whether the Agents are able to keep up with the log lines that are sent to Kafka. If not, we’ll spawn more agents.

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To monitor lag, we have our mean and max graph. If these lines diverge that means that some agents process data faster than others. That would cause certain Kafka partitions to contain many unprocessed log lines, while other partitions are empty.

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In order to stay in top of potential trouble spots, our graphs are constantly displayed on monitors in the office. This way, we can immediately detect any anomalies and investigate as needed. This has helped us to detect minor issues and solve them before they become bigger problems that could lead to outages.
Thanks to this new platform, we improved greatly our dashboard in term of speed, real-time delivery of data and intelligence on the end-user experience.

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They can drill down into each statistic for more details. Here we show the traffic volume during a specified time period:

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This graph shows the customer the cache offload statistics:

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After building, testing, migrating data, and documenting the new Apollo platform went live in May. Our next steps will be to add more Kafka clusters globally to decrease bandwidth usage as well as dedicated Agents for sending aggregated data. Future plans also include offering additional statistics for data types such as operating systems, browsers, HTTP errors, and unique visitors.

Re-architecting a system as critical as the statistic platform required many months of development, testing, and migrating the data from previous architecture, but we are very proud of the accomplishment and all customers are benefiting from it. As our traffic continues to grow at a rate of about 5% per month we are aware that we have just laid the foundations to meet our needs for massive scaling. If you are interested in helping us, we are actively hiring for this work.

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What does your cloud cost? http://blog.leaseweb.com/2016/07/21/what-does-your-cloud-cost/ http://blog.leaseweb.com/2016/07/21/what-does-your-cloud-cost/#respond Thu, 21 Jul 2016 09:31:25 +0000 http://blog.leaseweb.com/?p=5008 Third-party cloud solutions offer a truly transformational cost advantages over traditional on-premise hosting – but you’re not going to capture most of them with a rudimentary, “back of the envelope” analysis. That’s the lesson of our latest white paper, “Developing a cloud sourcing strategy: Two steps to calculate the total cost of ownership of your […]

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StartUps_01_CostThird-party cloud solutions offer a truly transformational cost advantages over traditional on-premise hosting – but you’re not going to capture most of them with a rudimentary, “back of the envelope” analysis. That’s the lesson of our latest white paper, “Developing a cloud sourcing strategy: Two steps to calculate the total cost of ownership of your cloud,” which lays out the key steps to take when considering the total cost of ownership (TCO) of a move to the cloud.

For starters, let’s assume your cloud strategy is properly conceived. (If not, contact us now to resolve your first issue.) Using a realistic example in the white paper, we make the case that moving to a cloud-based solution can result in a TCO reduction of between 30 and 60 percent, as long as the solution is focused on “enabling business velocity”:

Business velocity, in simplest terms, is the ability to quickly meet the shifting needs of the business. Practical examples … include accelerating time to market, responsiveness to marketing campaigns and the ability to integrate mergers and acquisitions …

In a nutshell, business velocity is the difference between a “solution that works” and a “solution that truly jumpstarts your business.” When helping clients develop the solution that best meets their needs, we look at:LSW0264_00_WhPaperVisual

  1. Revenue growth – Identifying and capturing revenue streams, improving customer engagement and rapidly leveraging new market conditions to support growth.
  2. Cost reduction – Continuously capturing opportunities to improve operations, reducing cost relative to revenue and improving project time cycles.
  3. Brand reputation/risk – Adapting to threats or business restraints and mitigating business-impacting events.

In all three areas, a scalable, OPEX-based model can help drive value.

The next step is a complete analysis that goes beyond upfront financial costs to include staffing, migration, compliance and security. On-site hosting increases staffing costs, capital investments and maintenance. Third-party hosting smooths the costs over the length of a contract. Hosting in a certified third-party data center also generally increases uptime and future scalability.

And remember, any analysis you complete today will be a point-in-time activity. Organizations should revisit their cloud strategies annually to take advantage of future technologies, processes and innovation.

Read the white paper now to find out more and as always, please contact LeaseWeb to see how our solutions can help accelerate your business velocity!

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How DJ Hardwell uses cloud to get 22,000 fans on stage http://blog.leaseweb.com/2016/07/19/5002/ http://blog.leaseweb.com/2016/07/19/5002/#respond Tue, 19 Jul 2016 11:10:07 +0000 http://blog.leaseweb.com/?p=5002 VR is hot hot hot! As the technology is becoming widely available, we see more and more customers picking it up. For example, LeaseWeb recently teamed up with Hardwell – the world’s #1 DJ – and technology partners Littlstar and VBR to pull off the first 360-degree, VR live stream of an EDM performance. Using our private cloud, CDN, […]

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AdServing_01_FlexibilityVR is hot hot hot! As the technology is becoming widely available, we see more and more customers picking it up. For example, LeaseWeb recently teamed up with Hardwell – the world’s #1 DJ – and technology partners Littlstar and VBR to pull off the first 360-degree, VR live stream of an EDM performance.

Using our private cloud, CDN, and datacenters in Europe, the U.S. and Asia, the world’s #1 DJ was able to broadcast his show to thousands of viewers in more than 25 countries. LeaseWeb served over 20 Terabytes of total traffic and accommodated 12 gigabit bandwidth spikes.

So we sent a camera team was on-site at the Miami Beach stop of Hardwell’s Revealed tour. Check out the video below to see how it all came together! And afterwards, check our 360-degree tour of one of our data centers!

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Setting up Leaseweb CDN on WordPress http://blog.leaseweb.com/2016/07/12/setting-leaseweb-cdn-wordpress/ http://blog.leaseweb.com/2016/07/12/setting-leaseweb-cdn-wordpress/#respond Tue, 12 Jul 2016 14:29:29 +0000 http://blog.leaseweb.com/?p=4989 Setting up WordPress on LeaseWeb CDN is very easy, as you’ll see. A couple of assumptions before we start: WordPress is installed on the origin server WP Super Cache or similar is installed within WordPress An “Origin” that points to your WordPress installation is already defined within your LeaseWeb CDN control panel. Configuring the zone itself […]

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cdn graphSetting up WordPress on LeaseWeb CDN is very easy, as you’ll see. A couple of assumptions before we start:

  • WordPress is installed on the origin server
  • WP Super Cache or similar is installed within WordPress
  • An “Origin” that points to your WordPress installation is already defined within your LeaseWeb CDN control panel.

Configuring the zone itself

First thing you want to do is to configure a Pull Zone. Do this by going to “Manage Zones” -> “Pull Zones” and click the “Add” button.

 

image1

When you click the “Add” button you’ll need to choose one of four “zones”. Since we’ll mainly serve static files (such as images, CSS and JavaScript files) from our WordPress website, choose the “Small files” zone for the best performance.

Now configure your new zone. Start by filling in your CNAME and choose your “Origin” that’s already been created.

This will generate a “Target”. This is what we’re going to use for WordPress to serve static files on. You can also add the CNAME itself to your DNS, pointing to the target generated.

Under “Advanced settings” you can add additional CNAMES. This might be beneficial if you want to increase the concurrent connections your site may use to download static resources. In general between one and three domains is recommended but test it for your specific site because it might differ a bit. Next, go to “Edge settings” and activate “Ignore Cookies” as well as “Cache query string” as below:

 

image2

Scroll down and click the “Save” button. Then wait 1-2 minutes for the zone to become fully active on the CDN.

 

Configure WordPress to make use of Leaseweb CDN

The next step is to actually tell WordPress to make use of the CDN to serve static files.

You can proceed with either installing a plugin called WP Super Cache, W3 Total Cache or CDN linker.

In this post we’ll use WP Super Cache as an example. You go into WP Super Cache, which can be found under “Settings” -> “WP Super Cache”. Set Caching to “On”:

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After this you go to the “CDN”-section within WP Super Cache, and check the checkbox “Enable CDN Support” as well as putting the CDN url http://.lswcdn.net in the “Off-site URL” input field you see, and then scroll down and click “Save”.

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The final step is to go to the frontend of your WordPress website and check the page source. You’ll see images, CSS and Javascript are loaded from the Leaseweb CDN.

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Congratulations! Now you’re in business.

 

 

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Security precaution: update your passwords http://blog.leaseweb.com/2016/07/08/security-precaution-update-passwords/ http://blog.leaseweb.com/2016/07/08/security-precaution-update-passwords/#comments Fri, 08 Jul 2016 13:49:04 +0000 http://blog.leaseweb.com/?p=4984 The only way to stay safe on the internet is by helping each other minimize security risks. So as a precaution, I want to make you aware of a situation that could possibly affect you. There are currently several databases available on the internet containing personal data such as e-mail addresses, user names and associated passwords. […]

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secureThe only way to stay safe on the internet is by helping each other minimize security risks. So as a precaution, I want to make you aware of a situation that could possibly affect you.

There are currently several databases available on the internet containing personal data such as e-mail addresses, user names and associated passwords. Lately, our security teams have noticed an increase in attacks attempted by unauthorized parties using this data.

In order to protect yourself, we recommend everyone to take the following actions if you haven’t done so already:

  1. Check if your e-mail address appears in a leaked database: https://haveibeenpwned.com
  2. Update the associated password(s)
  3. If you share passwords across services and haven’t updated them recently, you should do so immediately

Even if you don’t appear in any database it’s still advisable to change your passwords regularly.

Stay safe and help spread the word. For more security best practices, I recommend watching this presentation:

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LeaseWeb: A product portfolio that meets online gaming’s many different needs http://blog.leaseweb.com/2016/07/07/leaseweb-a-product-portfolio-that-meets-gamings-many-different-needs/ http://blog.leaseweb.com/2016/07/07/leaseweb-a-product-portfolio-that-meets-gamings-many-different-needs/#respond Thu, 07 Jul 2016 09:00:34 +0000 http://blog.leaseweb.com/?p=4623 Because gaming companies have so many different performance and scalability requirements for online games, it’s impossible to create a one-size-fits-all infrastructure for them. Different platforms (mobile/tablet, PC and console) and different business models (Pay-to-Play, Free-to-Play, etc) mean that every gaming company has different needs when it comes to technology, scalability and performance. This is why […]

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AdServing_01_FlexibilityBecause gaming companies have so many different performance and scalability requirements for online games, it’s impossible to create a one-size-fits-all infrastructure for them. Different platforms (mobile/tablet, PC and console) and different business models (Pay-to-Play, Free-to-Play, etc) mean that every gaming company has different needs when it comes to technology, scalability and performance. This is why LeaseWeb has a targeted approach towards the gaming industry and offers a full portfolio of tailored solutions in datacenters around the globe to customers including Ubisoft, Capcom, Crytek, Hi-Rez Studios and Creative Assembly. Our approach helps gaming companies balance risks and costs in order to capitalize quickly on a successful game.

Pay-to-Play gaming companies can relatively easily predict how many people will play a game at any given time. They usually show steady growth and can therefore buy their own hardware or co-locate. To support them even more, LeaseWeb can provide a managed network so they will not have to invest in expensive networking hardware to be able to scale up or down when they need to. They can also use additional services, such as scaling with Bare Metal or add-on Cloud Services and a Content Delivery Network (CDN).

LSW_Gaming_XL

Example of advanced gaming infrastructure

Free-to-Play games are becoming increasingly popular with users and gaming companies. Gamers can spend what they want on a game, trying it out beforehand. Gaming companies can reach a much wider audience this way. The catch for Free-to-Play companies lies in the fact that it can be difficult to know how many people will play, how long they will stay and how much money they will spend at any given time. These gaming companies run great risks upfront and will look for a scalable, flexible and cost effective model to meet market demands. Since LeaseWeb is a large, privately owned provider, we can easily offer the economy of scale and attractive pricing they need.

Different platforms require different performance levels in Free-to-Play gaming. Mobile gaming continues to rise but the technical requirements are limited – the graphics are usually relatively lightweight. The scalability requirements however are enormous and Free-to-Play mobile gaming companies therefore look for an extremely flexible solution.

MMO (Massively Multiplayer Online) PC games, on the other hand, have huge performance requirements on the CPU level. It is absolutely imperative that MMO games have good performance: maximum uptime and low latency, especially when playing a First Person Shooter (FPS). A distributed and shared cloud solution can cause lags in the games, which no gamer would be happy with. This means that for an MMO FPS, you need bare metal processing power with servers located around the world.

It goes without saying that uptime is extremely important in the gaming industry, since no one will make money from an online game if it is down. LeaseWeb has redundant networks and redundant routers from different A-class vendors to make sure services will be online 24/7 while staying flexible, agile and cost-efficient at the same time.

Last but not least, companies can take advantage of our Pay-as-you-go model for handling launch peaks or big events for their online game. They can scale their platform by adding bare-metal servers on demand and only pay for the time they are actually used.

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Abstractions over Scale – interview with Docker http://blog.leaseweb.com/2016/07/05/abstractions-scale-interview-docker/ http://blog.leaseweb.com/2016/07/05/abstractions-scale-interview-docker/#respond Tue, 05 Jul 2016 09:34:24 +0000 http://blog.leaseweb.com/?p=4979 Aanand Prasad, an engineer from Docker, spoke about Abstractions Over Scale and Docker’s open-source software suite at LeaseWeb’s TechSummit in Amsterdam: We wanted to get a little more insight into how tools like these are affecting the traditional ways of scaling technology: LeaseWeb: A lot of times you see a gap between the engineers who […]

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Aanand Prasad, an engineer from Docker, spoke about Abstractions Over Scale and Docker’s open-source software suite at LeaseWeb’s TechSummit in Amsterdam:

We wanted to get a little more insight into how tools like these are affecting the traditional ways of scaling technology:

LeaseWeb: A lot of times you see a gap between the engineers who manage servers and the developers who write the code. Why do you think this issue continues to exist and what are the common problems people face trying to fit two different environments?

Aanand: I think the reason it persists is two-fold: firstly they are dramatically different environments and there are very different problems with completely different concerns, at least underneath. My quixotic endeavor is to make the case that they don’t need to be. Which is an uphill struggle, because usually the job of getting something running in production and the job of getting something running in development are done by completely different people, completely different teams even who might not spend much time talking to each other. It’s nonetheless my hope that with tools like Docker and with abstractions like containers and networks and volumes, we can get to the point where the differences between those environments are minimized.

I think that it could, given time, lead to completely different organizational styles within companies. There’s a lot of momentum behind the idea that developing software and deploying software need to be two different jobs. But as the underlying technology in both environments becomes more and more similar, the reasons for separating the jobs become fewer and fewer, and so that momentum will slow.

LSW: Do you think that this kind of abstraction can cause complications?

A: I think it is almost inevitable that when you bring in a new abstraction you’re not going to design it brilliantly from the start. That means that that abstraction is sometimes going to get in the way between the developer and their job (developing software), and between the operations person and their job (deploying software). It’s going to paper over things that just can’t be papered over. I think the solution to that is very boring, it just involves an incremental process of design wherein you improve upon the abstractions you have, you talk to people who are struggling with the abstractions that you’ve given them, and also there is going to be some degree of software coming the other way to sort of meet in the middle.

“Abstraction is sometimes going to get in the way between the developer and their job”

LSW: How would you recommend a company adopt a container-based approach”? By starting with one service or component to dip their toes in and moving on from there?

A: This is what we did at the startup I was at before we got acquired by Docker. That’s exactly how we embraced Docker, one thing at a time. At first we did it by, ‘we’ve got this one web process, let’s put it in a container.‘ So a few things changed; we’re no longer keeping a Python version up to date on a server somewhere, instead we’ve got Docker. We’re not installing a ton of Python packages on that server anymore because we’ve got Docker and the init script for the web process no longer says python it says docker run python. That’s a very small change. Other than that you have a process that behaves exactly the same and you take it from there. So, that’s a very very small step, it’s minimally disruptive and you can do that and then bring in Docker for another service and for another service and you can eventually get to a point where ‘ok, we’ve got quite a few services running on Docker now, do we really need the same infrastructure that we had before for deploying them or can we switch to using something like Docker Compose that will do all of that at once for us and keep all of the architecture and configuration in one version controlled place?’

LSW: Have you seen real world companies talking about how they’ve been able to grow faster using this technology and that they’ve found it helps them with their scaling issues?

A: Every week or couple of weeks I hear about a company that has embraced some or all of the Docker toolkit. Of course they’re using Engine, they might be using Compose, they might be using Swarm, they might be using Compose just for development or they might be using Compose with Swarm to deploy an app on a cluster. The overwhelming feeling is that ‘we love it.’

LSW: So they’ve been able to face growth challenges that they weren’t able to as easily overcome?

A: The main thing it’s enabled them to do is move faster. My feeling is that it’s not necessarily enabled people to scale up beyond what they had before – because I don’t think Docker is there to enable larger scale than you had before. When it comes to growing your app there’s the simple fact of ‘how is your software going to scale, how is your software going to work at scale, how is your database going to behave when you replicate it or cluster it or shard it, how is your load balancer going to behave?’ And those are problems that Docker does not solve because Docker does not dictate what your software is or does but what it does do is make it an order of magnitude easier to manage.

 

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