Online gaming company Waappy enjoyed increasing success with its popular social game “Lucky Star.” But as the number of players increased, Waappy realized that it needed to add more servers to accommodate demand, which became a burden on time
and resources. Instead, it decided to migrate its application to Windows Azure. Now it benefits from easy scalability, reduced costs, and a higher quality of service.
Founded in 2010 by Valérie and Vincenzo Tinebra, Waappy is an online games company located in Saint-Brieuc, France. Its goal is to bring new content to the web, especially through social gaming on Facebook. With the increasing popularity of social networks,
a significant number of new companies have brought attractive entertainment applications to consumers. Waappy wanted to act on this opportunity by focusing its application on both gaming and social network aspects.
Its first product was “Lucky Star,” a social game that involves collecting and exchanging virtual images. Developed in open source solutions PHP and MySQL, Lucky Star has become a popular consumer Facebook game. It aims to create and reinforce friendships
among members of a social network. Each player can collect “chance cards” to be sent to friends as charms.
Waappy first hosted Lucky Star on a dedicated server, and as the number of players grew, it expanded from one server to five. Adding a new server could take a week, which was much too long in the competitive social-gaming market. Waappy could not sustain
the investment of time and resources. “Demand quickly became too high for our resources, and we needed to find an alternative solution for hosting. We wanted a way to minimize management of servers and be able to devote ourselves fully to our core business:
creating online games,” says Vincenzo Tinebra, Cofounder of Waappy.
With the imminent launch of a new release of Lucky Star, Waappy was about to experience another increase in demand. It needed a solution flexible enough to support future peak load increases. Waappy decided to consider cloud services as a possible solution.
When Waappy researched cloud services, it quickly became interested in Windows Azure, the Microsoft cloud services development, hosting, and management environment. Windows Azure provides on-demand compute, storage, networking, and content delivery capabilities
through Microsoft data centers around the world. Like many startups that specialize in social network applications, Waappy was attracted by the scalability of the pay-as-you-go solution, which is perfect to support unpredictable levels of growth. “Our question
was whether we could migrate our PHP code to Windows Azure, which proved to be possible,” says Vincenzo.
||We can actually follow the curve of activity and adjust server capacity as necessary. Prior to Windows Azure, we had to increase the number of physical servers, but now we have scalability.
| Vincenzo Tinebra
In May 2011, Waappy turned to Exakis, a member of the Microsoft Partner Network, for help to migrate its application to Windows Azure. Waappy needed to complete the migration in a very tight timeline without changing the source code. “We needed to launch the
third version of Lucky Star in 15 days. And during a meeting with Microsoft experts, we learned about a challenge to get the best social game on Windows Azure, so we decided to take on that challenge too,” says Vincenzo.
Exakis took over the project for the final 10 days. It installed the servers and completed the migration from MySQL to SQL Database with almost no source code modifications. Exakis carried out the migration quickly and smoothly in the 10-day timeframe. “They
stayed on target for the deadline and were very easy to work with,” says Vincenzo.
Lucky Star is now hosted on a dual web role in Windows Azure, which relies on SQL Database storage to access its subscriber base and on Blob storage for images and photos. "We are fully satisfied. Windows Azure is really great for social gaming. It allows
us to continue developing in PHP with the same skills and the same teams," says Vincenzo. The IT staff has now gained competency using Windows Azure and is able to manage it themselves.
By migrating its application to Windows Azure, Waappy has created an IT structure that can scale quickly to meet the unpredictable demands of the social-gaming market. Waappy enjoys lower costs and improved scalability, while its players enjoy a higher
quality of service.
Waappy no longer needs to add and configure physical servers to increase server capacity. Peak loads are quick and easy to manage. “We can continue to work with the development language we know, and we are able to scale up when demand is high. It used
to take us a week to set up a computer to run the game; this now takes only 10 minutes,” says Vincenzo. “We can actually follow the curve of activity and adjust server capacity as necessary. Prior to Windows Azure, we had to increase the number of physical
servers, but now we have scalability.”
By moving to a hosted cloud solution, Waappy spends less time and resources managing its server infrastructure. “We save up to 15 percent compared to the old system of renting servers,” says Vincenzo. “By using Windows Azure, we have lowered IT costs
while improving the management of our servers.” Vincenzo also appreciates the pay-as-you-go model. “It’s easier for us to plan our budget,” he says.
Improved Quality of Service
The most important benefit for Waappy is that it can provide a higher quality of service to its players. “We can now easily complete our regular update of the game without interrupting service,” says Vincenzo. “We get a quick response from Microsoft
support when we need help with a technical problem, and that translates to better service for our players.” Waappy has not only been able to easily increase the capacity for new players, but also open its game to international players.
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