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By CDN Team
In the second live stream class of the National Acceleration Festival, Yanyi, Architect of Alibaba Cloud’s CDN solution, did a presentation about the “Best Practices of Alibaba Cloud’s DCDN in the Game Industry.” Aiming at features and difficulties in the game industry, Yanyi introduced the core features and implementation methods of Alibaba Cloud’s Dynamic Route for Content Delivery Network (DCDN).
Everyone is familiar with the game industry. With the continuous enhancement of products, technologies, and capital support in the game field, higher-quality games have appeared in China in recent years. These games continually attract new gamers. With the popularity of smartphones and the advent of 5G, the number of gamers has grown exponentially.
Typical Business Pain Points in the Game Industry
Game providers are plagued by problems, such as high latency, difficult login, and frequent disconnection, which affect the user experience. At the same time, game providers are facing other problems, such as high IT costs in the early stage, high pressure on source servers when promoting games, and many illegal attacks. These problems are challenges for the entire game industry.
Alibaba Cloud’s CDN has served more than 300,000 customers worldwide and provided support for many customers in the game industry. A list of common customer issues is listed below:
- Our new game will launch tomorrow with about two million visits, but our source servers cannot handle this. Can we get some help from Alibaba Cloud’s CDN?
- We are going to launch our game abroad, but now most of the servers are in China. Overseas players have to go through a long procedure from their local servers to our servers to play the game. Can we use CDN to solve this problem?
- We use WebSocket and private protocols, such as non-HTTP/HTTPS, for interactions among gamers. Can you help to accelerate it?
- We have both static files and dynamic request resources. Can you give us an acceleration solution?
- Our gamer’s account has been attacked, and our business has been hacked. Does CDN have corresponding protection for us?
Some of these problems cannot be solved with traditional CDN. With the rapid iteration in the game industry, how can Alibaba Cloud make better use of its powerful infrastructure to empower game developers and start-ups? Companies want to focus on game design and user experience and better grasp opportunities to promote their work without worrying about other technical issues. Based on insight into the industry and the extension of product technologies, Alibaba Cloud’s DCDN was developed. It can effectively cope with the acceleration demands of the game industry characterized by low latency, strong interaction, and high security.
How Can Alibaba Cloud Help Game Companies Grow Rapidly?
For the rapid growth of game developers and start-ups, there are several issues that they need to consider:
- The Start-Up Stage: In the start-up stage, the economics of cost is very critical. With the flexible purchase of the cloud available on-demand, it is possible to start operations with limited assets. Game companies do not have to worry about the capacity changes of source servers.
- High Security: The game industry is one of the industries that are frequently attacked by hackers. Therefore, game developers and companies need to pay special attention to the construction of security capabilities. Using the edge protection capabilities of the CDN in platform, data, and business, game providers can effectively prevent source servers from being exposed and data from being stolen.
- Elastic Scalability: After promotions and publicity, a newly launched game will receive lots of players. As a result, main servers and applications will be visited by hundreds of thousands of players. Under these circumstances, game providers have to support the elastic scalability and provide open services, allowing players to obtain resources easier.
- Game Experience: The quality of game experience determines whether players will continue to play the game or not. Therefore, game developers and companies should also focus on experience improvement in some aspects, such as access, login, download, transaction, and interaction. To solve this issue, Alibaba Cloud’s DCDN provides an all-in-one accelerated distribution for dynamic and static data. Thus, DCDN ensures better interaction among gamers and ensures the delivery of players’ instructions under non-standard protocols, thereby improving the game experience.
What Can DCDN Do for the Game Companies?
Dynamic Route for CDN (DCDN) is a CDN service developed by Alibaba Cloud to accelerate static and dynamic content delivery. DCDN solves issues like slow response time, packet loss, and service instability caused by various factors, such as mixed static and dynamic resources, multiple operators, network instability, single-line source servers, burst traffic, and network congestion. It improved the performance of all servers and user experience.
The differences between DCDN and CDN are listed on the chart below:
For the adaptation of source servers, DCDN doesn’t need server resource adjustment. It can intelligently distinguish dynamic and static content and accelerate them separately, which is a suitable acceleration solution for game providers.
DCDN is built on the CDN infrastructure with more than 2,800 nodes worldwide and is compliant with the Service Level Agreement (SLA.) It has built a rapid, reliable, intelligent, and secure “high-speed railway” between users and source servers. It also offers five benefits for the game industry: transmission acceleration, stability and balancing, HTTPS, basic defense, and flexible management.
- Transmission Acceleration: DCDN provides all-in-one separation of static and dynamic resources. Static resources can be accelerated based on the cache of edge nodes distributed all over the world. Dynamic resources can be accelerated through intelligent routing, optimized transfer protocols, compression transmission, multiplexing, and other technologies. This process helps achieve back-to-source acceleration.
- Stability and Balancing: Through the load balancing of all nodes and strategies, such as active and standby source servers, ordered source retrieval, and the availability check of source servers, DCDN ensures the stability of acceleration and the availability of services in high concurrent scenarios.
- HTTPS: Operators in China are in a complex environment. They are facing issues, such as hacked websites with intentionally changed content. If they only use the HTTP protocol for transmission, they will run the risk of disclosing users’ dynamic content. Therefore, they require more efficient and securer network procedures and content delivery channels. DCDN supports the secure acceleration of full procedures under HTTPS protocol, provides multiple certificate formats, and supports the keyless solution to meet customers’ needs in different scenarios.
- Basic Defense: Based on DCDN, customers can gradually integrate cloud security capabilities and build edge security capabilities. Through DCDN edge nodes distributed around the world, DCDN is entitled to defend against attacks, such as hijacking, tampering, and DDoS attacks, to reduce the pressure on source servers.
- Flexible Management: Based on cache optimization in multiple source servers, DCDN can control the number of each back-to-source request to protect source servers and save bandwidth. As for the ordered back-to-source, when an emergent event occurs, DCDN can set an ordered back-to-source policy to determine the order of requests. DCDN decides which requests can return to the source servers and which requests should be delayed in a queue. Thus, the number of back-to-source requests on source servers can be controlled to ensure stability and balance.
Application of DCDN in the Game Industry
DCDN has many features, such as intelligent routing, IP application acceleration, and WebSocket. How are these features used to solve common issues in the game industry?
Game servers must guarantee performance, provide every user with high-level experience, and handle high-traffic loads stably and efficiently to ensure the all-day availability of the network. This is the only way user traffic generated by heavily invested advertisements be converted smoothly.
Compared to traditional CDN, DCDN uses intelligent routing to resolve the page latency and content interaction failure caused by single-line source servers, burst traffic, and network congestion. By doing so, game providers can avoid a result that online users may directly give up access to the server.
DCDN can accurately calculate the effect of each hop to achieve accurate intelligent routing, real-time network detection, and smooth cross-network effect. This ensures that each information instruction from users to source servers or other users can be better transmitted without worrying about network congestion.
IP Application Acceleration
Many business scenarios of games adopt non-standard HTTP protocols. For example, the transmission of interactive information is implemented through non-standard HTTP protocols, especially in the scenario of 4-layer private protocols. Traditional CDN solutions cannot solve this problem.
DCDN accelerates network transmission, reduces service latency, and improves access availability. It uses 4-layer protocol acceleration to complete access and transmission. DCDN resolves transmission problems of some private protocols and enables transparent transmission without any intrusion.
WebSocket is a new network protocol based on TCP, supporting full-duplex communication between clients and servers. In other words, WebSocket allows a server to send requests to a client. Therefore, in WebSocket, once a client connects to a server, their connection can remain for a long time. This makes the data exchange between clients and servers much simpler and more efficient. It is also a protocol often used in the game industry for information interaction.
Traditional CDN products cannot provide acceleration for customers using this protocol, but DCDN supports comprehensive procedure transmission. It has several advantages. First, DCDN supports small Header transmission, which is only about two bytes. Second, the server no longer passively returns data after receiving a browser request. Instead, when new data is available, the server will actively send them to the browser. Third, the WebSocket protocol helps to reduce server resources and bandwidth and facilitate real-time communication.
When using DCDN for acceleration, accelerations are performed separately in static or dynamic scenarios. The following is an example of the acceleration effect:
- The First Case: The source server does not need to split the dynamic content and static content. DCDN caches the static content to ensure the closest access or sends resources to the customer’s nearest node in real-time by refreshing or prefetching static files. This improves the access effect of the entire procedure. The data results show that the acceleration effect of static content can be improved by about 100 to 300%. For dynamic resources, the acceleration can be improved by 30 to 60% through intelligent routing and optimization of private transfer protocols.
- The Second Case: The customer has encountered various difficulties, including the latency of dynamic game instructions, poor game fluency, delay in gamers’ interactions, and the risk of hacker attacks.
DCDN provides high-quality resource node coverage, intelligent routing, and exclusive private transfer protocols to help the customer solve the “first mile access” problem. Thus, DCDN reduces network latency and improves the game experience. Based on the optimization technology of the transfer layer, DCDN is effectively compatible with various upper-layer protocols, including http/https, WebSocket, and other protocols of and above the transfer layer. Therefore, DCDN accelerates applications deployed on various platform systems of the customer to enhance gamers’ interactive experience in the game. After using DCDN, all attacks and unauthorized access to the source server will be intercepted by acceleration nodes. In addition, DCDN protects 4 to 7 layers. Thus, the customer does not have to worry about DDoS and other attacks on web applications. Through the application of DCDN, the game interaction of the customer’s games has been significantly improved, and gamer satisfaction has also been correspondingly improved. Besides, by caching single-line resources through Border Gateway Protocol (BGP) of the source server, DCDN helps customers save costs by more than 50%.