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Gaming in the Clouds – China Game Forum Los Angeles

Forty executives from China the US gather to discuss the state of China’s gaming industry, data centers, and social networks

Liu Chang from the China Ministry of Culture opened the China Game Forum in Los Angeles on Wednesday with encouraging words for both Chinese and foreign gaming companies. “China will provide tax incentives for companies to develop gaming within China,” said Chang, as well as promote funding for companies choosing to develop gaming with the country.

Chang believes development of a gaming industry in China is yet one more indication that Chinese people are improving their quality of life by having access to new leisure activities, including gaming.

At the China Gaming Forum, sponsored by ChinaCache, around 40 executives from both China and the United States gathered to discuss the state of China’s gaming industry, data centers, and the future of cloud computing within the gaming and social network community.

Richard Xu, COO of ChinaCache, highlighted the growth of the Chinese content delivery and gaming industry in both China and the United States. Having just closed their third round of funding, at a nice tag of $10 million, ChinaCache has now extended their global presence to sites in China, The US, Germany, London, Singapore, and Korea.

“Our toughest test was bringing 300,000 concurrent users online to watch streaming video of the China National Day celebration, which we supported without any processing or transmission errors” continued Chang.

ChinaCache also used the opportunity to announce their Los Angeles expansion into a new facility, designed to support Chinese gaming products, with an additional 9000sqft of space driven by over 750kW power.

Pacific Tier Communications presented an overview of the data center, telecom and Internet interconnection, and cloud compute technologies used to support both gaming, as well as the content delivery industry.

Joe Zhu from ChinaCache continued with an overview of ChinaCache’s approach to supporting gaming, including a case study on their largest North American gaming customer. “We are supporting a large global multi-user gaming platform, Empire Craft, with the following main objectives:

  • Better web control and acceleration
  • High performance software and client downloads
  • And managed hosting”

Following Joe Zhu’s introduction a panel discussion looked at the issues of hosting gaming and social media in traditional data center environments versus within cloud computing environments. Panelists included:

  • Jason Hoffman – Joyent
  • Tommy Jiang – MySpace
  • YongChul Yang – ChinaCache
  • Erik Klinker – BitTorrent

A variety of topics were hit, with a couple notable discussions, including:

  • MySpace – Tommy Jiang is an applications developer and coder for MySpace. He really doesn’t care if a server is a physical server, or a virtualized server, as long as it stays online and does the job. Tommy doesn’t get close to the data center or physical server, he just expects the server and server capacity to be available when he needs it for his applications.
  • Joyent has the idea that with cloud computing, it might be possible to bring server and compute resource capacity up to the utilization levels traditionally enjoyed within the scientific community. Or in short, use your resources at >80% all the time, and do not waste available resources.
  • All panel members agreed that the end user should have the ability to determine where their data physically exists, even if it is managed within a cloud.
  • The panel discussed the idea of on-demand processing. Tommy started the conversation by stating “when you initially write an application, you don’t know whether or not it will be a success.” However when you write the application today, you need to plan for and order physical resources to support your application. If the application fails, you have a lot of expensive, unused resources. If the application is successful, and you under-estimate the need for resources, you have sever performance problems and unhappy users. Both are unsatisfactory conditions that could be better met through use of on-demand or elastic access to compute resources.
  • Jason discussed the idea of interoperability among cloud services providers, stating “today most companies see this as a provisioning problem. It is not, it is an infrastructure standardization problem.”

The panel discussed many other issues, and had a very good interaction following the conference in an open networking opportunity.

China is getting aggressive supporting not only gaming, but also cloud computing. Additional conversations with guests from both the telecom carrier industry, as well as gaming services companies clearly indicates Chinese companies have fully engaged in the gaming, and cloud space.

ChinaCache, while initially started to support the Chinese content community in the US and homeland, has started becoming large enough that they now have the ability to compete with large American content delivery networks/CDNs such as Akamai or LimeLight.

It will be a lot of fun to watch the development of both the Chinese gaming industry, as well as the CDN industry over the next year. Both industries are run by smart, aggressive, and globally aware teams, and we will expect both industries to have a very large impact on the internet-connected community.

John Savageau, Long Beach

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John Savageau is a life long telecom and Internet geek, with a deep interest in the environment and all things green. Whether drilling into the technology of human communications, cloud computing, or describing a blue whale off Catalina Island, Savageau will try to present complex ideas in terms that are easily appreciated and understood.

Savageau is currently focusing efforts on data center consolidation strategies, enterprise architectures, and cloud computing migration planning in developing countries, including Azerbaijan, The Philippines, Palestine, Indonesia, Moldova, Egypt, and Vietnam.

John Savageau is President of Pacific-Tier Communications dividing time between Honolulu and Burbank, California.

A former career US Air Force officer, Savageau graduated with a Master of Science degree in Operations Management from the University of Arkansas and also received Bachelor of Arts degrees in Asian Studies and Information Systems Management from the University of Maryland.