Zynga Plans to Handle Its Own Data Centers

Zynga, makers of the infamous Farmville game on Facebook has up until recently mostly relied on Amazon to host its games, but according to an article on Venture Beat this week, that could change when Zynga gets a cash infusion from its upcoming initial public offering (IPO).

According the Venture Beat article, Zynga plans to invest between $100 million and $150 million later this year to expand its own data centers.

In fact, Zynga has been operating some of its own data centers for some time and according to an Informationweek article, they have an usual data center strategy:

Most companies think of using the cloud as an extension of their data centers, shifting work once it becomes too much for in-house systems into the cloud. Zynga does the opposite, launching its games in the cloud and bringing them in-house only when it knows what resources they’ll consume as they settle in to a regular demand pattern.

Should it go through with this plan, they’ll be spending a ton of money but they’ll be putting themselves in control of their own destiny, something that appeals to the company. But their monitoring tasks will change dramatically when they do.

Instead of using their data centers to handle steady loads, they will be watching and making sure not only that demand isn’t surging, but that there are no gaps in service and that the entire system is operating smoothly.

They will no longer be relying on Amazon, which in some ways forces them to tune their applications for the Amazon service, but neither will they be getting all the advantages of Amazon’s data center management and all that entails.

Zynga’s job according to its tag line is to connect the world through games. It’s a worthy enough goal I guess, but if that’s the goal, they have to make sure the servers are running to maximum efficiency. They need to know when they require more server capacity to accommodate increased demand — and now it’s going to be all on them.

They have to build out these massive data centers, hire employees to staff them. They have to deal with the constantly shifting base of users. That’s not to say that monitoring in itself is rocket science because it’s not, but Zynga has only had to deal with the relatively steady traffic up to this point.

When they build out a private cloud, they will take on more of the responsibility and as such, they need to understand what it takes to run a data center on a near full-time basis. What they may not be aware of is the amount of heavy lifting that Amazon did for them behind the scenes, and as they make the transition to a private cloud, Zynga needs to understand how to keep the system running at peak efficiency or risk alienating their rabid fan base.

And the last thing Zynga wants to do at this point is start losing fans because their games are running slowly or worse, not at all.

If you are involved with launching applications internally or to the cloud you may be interested in the upcoming webinar “Confessions of a successful CIO: Seven innovative ways to measure, manage and improve service levels“.

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