Case Study: Kabam in the Joyent Cloud

November 16, 2011 - by alexsalkever

(This post is adapted from a Case Study published on the Joyent Cloud Website. You can also watch a video with Kabam COO Chris Carvalho)

Kabam (formerly Watercooler) is a leading social games developer, with more than 60 million installations of its games around the world. By combining the most popular elements of traditional and social gaming, Kabam give players the best of both worlds: deep gameplay with tons of social interaction.

It’s personally satisfying to me that Joyent support is so responsive. Any time we’ve contacted them—day or late at night—we get an answer quickly 

  • Chris Carvalho, COO, Kabam

The Challenge

Scalability. With literally millions of gamers, Kabam needed a platform that could easily scale up or down to meet sudden increases or ebbs in demand. Rather than stocking a data center with its own servers, routers, and storage, the company knew a more viable option was hosting its products on a scalable cloud infrastructure.

Development Platform. Because Kabam is constantly improving and enhancing its existing games as well as creating new ones, it needed a development environment that could easily accommodate beta installations and mirror production servers with no impact on the live network. Also, developers use more network resources during initial periods of new game programming and far less when a game is stable and deployed. A traditional data center would probably require over provisioning, adding more hardware than is needed on a day-to-day basis.

Resource Management. While Kabam has a top-flight operations staff, it was looking for a way to leverage their abilities and grow its business without over staffing its operations center. A solution that could increase their management resources without breaking its operation budget would be the perfect fit.

Reliability and Support. Its worldwide presence meant that Kabam had to deliver peak performance around the clock. Social networking gamers from Shanghai to Cincinnati depended on Kabam being there. The company couldn’t afford downtime or poor performance.

The Solution

Easy Scalability. “Kingdoms of Camelot is a world-based game. When one world fills up, we can quickly deploy another on the Joyent cloud,” said Michael Li, CTO of Kabam. “We don’t have to pre-configure or preorder whole new systems.” The company can easily scale up or scale down depending on demand. The bursting capability of Joyent’s SmartOS easily handles any sudden spikes in game traffic, and new server resources can be added quickly, with no network disruption. In fact, Joyent cloud deployments can get up to eight times the memory and CPU capacity during spikes in activity. Automatic bursting capacity plus fast resource deployment equals smooth performance for Kabam gamers.

Flexible Development Platform. “With Joyent we can build a development environment larger than we could afford than if we had to go out and buy and maintain all those servers. And when we’re through, we just shrink the environment, “ said Michael Li. Beta tests can be performed on a mirror of the production environment, insuring that the code is ready to go live. When engineering OKs beta software for release, it can quickly roll it out to the live network. Regardless of its development needs, Kabam can quickly deploy and configure the proper cloud-based platform for new engineering projects.

Extra Management Resources and Superior Support. “The Joyent team works closely with us. They know our applications, our technology,” said Li. “We have a great ops team, but Joyent has substantially reduced our need for adding any operations staff.” Joyent is able to offer hardware management and monitoring 24X7, and can assist with any resource issue as part of its standard service. As a result, Kabam is now able to enjoy a larger operating environment with no additional management costs.