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Sponsored: Why Montreal data centers are the best choice for video games

Sponsored: Why Montreal data centers are the best choice for video games

May 7, 2018 | By ROOT Data Center

Presented by ROOT Data Center

Video games: What started with Pong is today a colossal worldwide industry and money-making juggernaut. In 2017, the interactive entertainment industry recorded revenues of more than $108 billion according New York-based SuperData. Mobile games followed by PC, consoles, VR and AR, video, and then esports, are challenging global audiences with games that are complex, compelling and fast, and only getting more so.

When it comes to video games, we think about the genius behind creating them, and not necessarily about the hardware, software and science that underpins the delivery of that billions in revenue.

The truth is that in part a game is only as good as its data center. From MMOGs to PlayStation to Words with Friends on your phone, game providers need data centers with the ability to manage the lifecycle of games with wildly varying degrees of sophistication, and complicated delivery requirements that have to be executed across devices.

It's a big ask. For the game industry in particular, the IT infrastructure and the data centers that support it can make or break their business.

Video Game IT

The holy grail of game publishing is a consistently exceptional user experience.

Delivering the right stuff every time a user engages leads to player loyalty, which in turn leads to greater revenue.

That makes the data center a pivotal partner.

It's the resiliency of the data center, for example, that can prevent downtime--arguably the worst case for MMOGs--by providing customized colocation solutions that achieve 100 percent uptime.

"It's the data center that impacts latency, which can be the deciding factor on playability. Lag time is death."

It's the data center that impacts latency, which can be the deciding factor on playability. Lag time is death. If the ping is high and actions take too long to get to the screen, the game is virtually unplayable. For game publishers, the right colocation provider can drive an infrastructure solution that reduces server-side latency or make network routing decisions that accelerate transfer.

Other data center provisions include speed-to-market and scalability. A new game might be brilliant, but if the competition gets to market faster, creative genius is neutralized. And if the game gets to market and strikes a chord with players, does the data center have the ability to handle a sudden demand increase with hosting services that can scale up as the volume of player demand dictates?

Finally, if a data center hits the mark on resiliency, latency, speed-to-market and scalability, then the question is, at what cost? In video games, demand isn't always predictable, and like every other business, infrastructure costs have to be efficient.

Video game development pushes boundaries. But bringing creative ideas to market means making a critical right choice of data center partner.

Video game boom Canada

There are 2.5 billion people who are mobile or PC gamers, according to SuperData. That's about one out of every three people in the world. In Canada, we've made it our business to lead innovation in the technology economy. Nowhere is that more evident than in the game industry.

According to the 2017 Essential Facts About the Canadian Video Game Industry from the Canadian Entertainment Software Association, there are nearly 600 active video game studios in Canada generating more than 21,000 direct full-time jobs and contributing $3.7 billion to the country's GDP, a 24 percent increase since 2015. In Quebec alone, there are 198 video game companies i a 42 percent increase over the last two years.

Quebec--once dubbed "the Hollywood of video games--is a province known industry-wide for its deep talent pool and for providing significant financial incentives to major game studios. In 2017, more than 10,000 people were employed in Québec's video game industry, according to Investment Quebec. The epicenter is its capital, Montreal, where employment in the game industry has increased tenfold since 2002. Today, it's the fifth-largest video game center in the world, after Tokyo, London, San Francisco and Austin.

It's no coincidence that in tandem with growth in the game industry, Montreal is spearheading the innovation of next-generation data centers.

Montrealas power hub

Data housing is critical to the ecosystem of every successful business. The mass migration to the Internet as a life-tool means data consumption is growing at a rate of 50 percent per year from connected devices and the Internet of Things. Companies large and small are challenged with finding best-in-class data centers while at the same time, managing costs.

Over the past three years, Canada has built out over 1 million square feet of data center space, and added in excess of 100MW of power, according to IDC Canada.

In the last two years, Amazon Web Services, the largest provider of cloud computing services in the world, accounting for more than 30 percent of the global market, along with Google and Microsoft, have opened Montreal hubs for their cloud operations.

In choosing Montreal, companies cite its proximity to major markets. Data stored in Montreal is close to home. At 370 miles to New York City, it's closer than Cleveland, Charlotte or Chicago. That proximity is reflected in very low latency to New York and other major markets.

Importantly, they also cite power rates. Of all the major North American markets, Montreal boasts the lowest power costs for data center operations. Four times lower than in California, for example. Three-point-seven times lower than New York. And twice as low as Toronto where energy costs have almost doubled since 2006.

"Data stored in Montreal is close to home. At 370 miles to New York City, it's closer than Cleveland, Charlotte or Chicago. That proximity is reflected in very low latency to New York and other major markets."

Quebec relies on hydropower which provides stable electricity rates that are unaffected by fluctuating oil prices. What's more, Montreal-based data centers use less power than their counterparts by taking advantage of the naturally cold climate to cool their infrastructure and thereby cutting operating expenses.

For example, ROOT Data Center, a Montreal-based cloud and carrier-neutral data center company, uses a unique systems design that facilitates free air-cooling for 90 percent of the year. Free air-cooling in the data center, as well as the ability to cool cabinets with a maximum power load per rack of 40kW compared to the 10-20kW capacity of most other North American data centers, allows for cost savings of up to 20 percent.

Green data storage

There isn't a business in the world that doesn't evaluate its operations with respect to its impact on the environment.

The Green Grid Association, a non-profit, open industry consortium of end- users, policy makers, technology providers, facility architects, and utility companies, works to improve the resource efficiency of data centers globally and finds that Quebec delivers more broadly on two advanced "Green Grid" data center sustainability metrics: Carbon Usage Effectiveness (CUE) and Water Usage Effectiveness (WUE).

In simplest terms, CUE and WUE are short for how much carbon a company emits and how efficient is its use of water.

What sets Quebec apart in the market is the twinning of energy rates with renewable, green power. Almost 100 percent of the energy generated by Hydro-Quebec comes from hydroelectricity, a clean form of energy that produces greenhouse gas emissions that are 50 times lower than natural gas, five times lower than solar power and about the same as wind power. In making the Montreal announcement, Amazon identified hydropower as a key factor to the company's data center location decision.

Data centers using coal power have a higher CUE than one with a green power source. For example, a typical data center with 1 MW of capacity based in Virginia has a CUE of more than 455,000 KG of carbon. In Quebec, a data center of comparable size produces only 840 KG of CO2. ROOT Data Center's unique system designs allow an even smaller carbon output of 758 KG.

In other words, comparing data centers of equivalent size, a Virginia-based operation produces has a carbon output equal to 1,200 cars in a day. ROOT's CO2 production is equal to two.

When it comes to WUE, many U.S.-based data centers use enormous amounts of water to power and cool more than five-and-a-half times the amount of drinking water consumed in America in a whole year. For example, a limited survey shows that New York data centers with 1 MW of capacity use 494 litres of water every five minutes. In Virginia, it's 176.

Together with a naturally cool climate that helps regulate temperature, and the use of free-air cooling through a product called Kyoto Cooling, ROOT achieves maximum efficiency using only a single litre of water every five minutes per MW of data centre capacity i an industry low in North America.

ROOT Data Center: The game industry

From a lone console in the living room, to millions of people playing concurrently in a many-to-many environment in real time, in a single virtual universe, the game industry has a history of pushing the boundary of IT operations.

Data centers are the spine of operations. They're complex systems, but for game publishers, they're required to achieve one thing: the best path between their content and their end-users.

It's essential for game companies to work with data centers to reach their expanding customer base with the quality of product that builds customer loyalty. Data centers have the capacity to reduce latency and accelerate game performance. The best can cross platforms, scale and deliver the 100 percent uptime that is essential to game publishing.

The acceleration of game publishing is synonymous with the requirement of robust data center solutions. Understanding the culture of gamers, their patterns of consumption and the game companies quality and cost concerns, is crucial to any hosting company that wants their business.

ROOT Data Center is able to deploy multi-megawatt deployments in 90 to 120 days, saving time in migrating data, but also allowing for the ability to scale up quickly. ROOT can build on the most advanced and the densest servers today. The scalability and performance of our high density power solutions guarantees we can support growth.

In the game industry, increased competition makes speed-to-market a critical factor. In order to meet speed-to-market challenges, game production teams need reliable 'always-on' infrastructure for development and testing of their products.

ROOT's two Montreal data centers provide easy access to the urban core's growing game industry. In addition, both of ROOT's data centers are carrier-neutral, with access to over 50 carriers, including dark fibers, local networks, and global telecoms via on-net providers and ROOT's Metro Connect service. Our design surpasses Tier III standards and our customers receive 100 percent uptime.

In addition, ROOT leads the industry as the first data center in the world to use artificial intelligence to help deliver 100 percent uptime.

Finally, we understand that in order to keep resources focused on developing cutting edge video game experiences, cost is a key factor.

ROOT's two facilities are designed with next-generation engineering that allows its customers to benefit from a world-class data center, while reducing costs. To learn more about the ROOT advantage for the game industry, please click here.

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