It is written by Mod Tom S and is dated 10 July 2009.
Welcome to this dev blog about infrastructure, the first of its type. I am Mod Tom S, IT Manager, and I would like to keep you updated on some of the big infrastructure changes that will benefit both RuneScape and FunOrb.
First off, a little background. All of Jagex's games are hosted on a two-tier infrastructure - we refer to it as our "front-end" and "back-end". The game worlds run on servers in our front-end. The game world servers then read and write their data from our back-end infrastructure. You are probably already familiar with some of the services running in the back-end, examples include the login servers, forums, billing systems, etc.
Last year, we undertook a massive upgrade of all the front-end servers using the latest Dell servers. This allowed us to refresh all the servers on which the worlds themselves run, as well as a very significant upgrade of the Internet connectivity provided to those servers. Your worlds are now running on much faster and resilient hardware with multiple 10gb Internet connections.
More recently, we have been working on upgrading our back-end infrastructure. Because the back-end stores such important data as your game progress, login information and friends lists, for example, it is vital that this is not only reliable, but also supports our long-term goals for high performance and the player growth we are experiencing.
So what are we building? Well, as you might imagine, storage is the key component in the design. Consequently, we have built our new infrastructure around a massive storage system called a SAN (storage area network). This SAN allows us to move, expand and generally manipulate virtual disks as they are required by our servers. The SAN also includes advanced replication software that we are using to replicate the entire back office to another data centre in real-time, which means we would be able to keep our systems online even if an entire data centre was wiped out. The servers are connected to the SAN using multiple fibres for performance and resilience. The servers, in turn, are connected to the local network using multiple connections, and the local network is then connected to the Internet by multiple internet providers. At each turn, we have chosen the best possible solution, utilising the best equipment on the market. We take the availability of our games very seriously indeed.
"So what will this do for me?" you may ask. For a start, the new back-end should be faster and more reliable. Our current back-end relies on a single Internet provider who have not proven to be very reliable. With the new back-end, we will also be able to route around a few of the common types of Internet connection problems. Also, we have a ton more bandwidth for services that simply weren't possible before. I can't talk about them here, but you should be seeing the first of these shortly.
The migration work will start in the next couple of weeks. As modules are moved, they will be unavailable and there may be short periods of disruption. We will be minimising this as much as possible and there will be news posts detailing the specifics of the move as it happens. The whole migration process should take less than a month, but we won't be rushing - it's important that we get it right.
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