Tyler Projects wanted to improve the scalability of its successful game Mobile Weapon: Battle Stations. The game is played online by thousands of concurrent users, and performance faltered when the number of players increased. Instead of continuing to run its PHP application on a Linux-based server, Tyler Projects decided to migrate the game to Windows Server® 2008 with Internet Information Services 7.0. In testing, Windows Server 2008 consistently processed more than double the requests handled by Linux servers. Tyler Projects expects that the significant performance improvement and better stability will attract more users and increase revenue as a result. Management will also be easier because administrators can use a central interface to manage multiple servers and applications as business expands. With Windows Server 2008, Tyler Projects now has a foundation to support growth.
Established as a Web design company in 2004 in Singapore, Tyler Projects moved on to design computer games and other software. The company, which has 10 employees, released Mobile Weapon: Battle Stations on the social networking site Facebook in 2007. Battle Stations, a massively multiplayer online role-playing game, is played simultaneously by thousands of people worldwide.
||When we ran our game on Windows Server 2008 with IIS 7.0, the benchmark results demonstrated better performance and stability than the Linux-based systems over a longer period of time.
Since it was founded, Tyler Projects has looked for innovative ways to deliver its products. When the company first created Mobile Weapon Episode 1, users downloaded software and installed it on their computers. However, to increase customers, the company realized it needed a different strategy. It created Mobile Weapon: Battle Stations as a PHP application and decided to offer the game on Facebook. Users would sign in, choose characters, and play the game in real time with other people worldwide.
The game was launched on the social networking site in late 2007, and Tyler Projects saw the number of concurrent users increase from a few hundred to 13,000 players during peak periods. The rapid growth brought the entrepreneurs recognition and revenue, but it brought a few challenges as well. The company discovered that the performance of its application, which ran on the Linux-based CentOS operating system, suffered when the number of concurrent players increased. Tiam Yang, Managing Partner at Tyler Projects, says, “We tried different solutions, including different server hardware, but we still encountered instability and slow performance.”
Tyler Projects wanted to increase its user base and the length of time that people played the game. Players join the game for free, and then pay for virtual accessories such as weapons. The longer they stay online, the more they purchase. However, the performance problems frustrated users, and limited both the number of concurrent players and the amount of revenue that was generated.
Tyler Projects planned to offer Battle Stations on more social networking sites, and it began designing other games for release. To meet business goals, the company looked for a better solution to deliver its Web-based applications.
Tyler Projects ran its Battle Stations application on a dedicated server hosted by a service provider. After making inquiries, the company realized that switching hosts wouldn’t improve performance because many of the service providers in Singapore use Linux-based systems to run Web applications. The situation began to change in June 2008, when Microsoft invited Tyler Projects to visit the Microsoft Innovation Center in Singapore.
When Yang met with Microsoft representatives, he wanted to know more about the capabilities of the Windows Server® 2008 operating system. Because scalability topped his list of requirements, he asked if he could run a benchmarking test with Windows Server 2008 and Internet Information Services (IIS) 7.0 to compare performance with Linux-based systems. He hoped that the FastCGI protocol available in Windows Server 2008 would enhance the performance and stability of Battle Stations and other Web-based applications that use the PHP scripting language.
Yang installed Battle Stations on three HP ProLiant ML115 server computers―one running Windows Server 2008 Enterprise with IIS 7.0, one running Fedora 9, and another running CentOS. The Linux-based systems both ran Apache HTTP Server. Each server also ran MySQL, the database software used by Tyler Projects. Although Battle Stations was designed to run on Linux, migration to the Windows®-based server was much smoother and faster than Yang expected. “We migrated the code to Windows Server 2008 without modification, and we timed the migration at less than 30 minutes,” he says.
||We migrated the code to Windows Server 2008 without modification, and we timed the migration at less than 30 minutes.
Tyler Projects next simulated the game’s production environment, increasing the number of players in five-minute increments. In the first wave of tests, Yang ran all servers without changing configurations or fine-tuning performance. In the second wave of tests, he fine-tuned the Linux-based systems to improve their performance, but did not modify the Windows-based server. As the number of players increased over time, he observed that the Windows-based server consistently processed more than double the requests handled by the other servers.
Satisfied that Windows Server 2008 would meet its performance requirements, Tyler Projects is looking into other capabilities as well. For example, the company will use the new administration console, IIS 7.0 Manager, to remotely administer its Web applications. With IIS 7.0 Manager, Tyler Projects can centrally manage and deploy Web infrastructure from its Singapore office.
Tyler Projects plans to take advantage of the new capabilities starting in December 2008 when it migrates Battle Stations to Windows Server 2008 in its production environment. The company plans to release the game on more social networking sites in early 2009 and is preparing other products for release as well.
Tyler Projects expects that by implementing Windows Server 2008 with IIS 7.0 it can support more users and generate more revenue. Streamlined management will also improve business growth by giving administrators more time to work on new products.
Improved Performance and Stability
For Tyler Projects, the biggest benefit of Windows Server 2008 will be an improvement in the way the game performs for users. Yang says, “When we ran our game on Windows Server 2008 with IIS 7.0, the benchmark results demonstrated better performance and stability than the Linux-based systems over a longer period of time, and that is very important for us.”
The improvement will enhance Battle Stations for users, and it will aid expansion for Tyler Projects. “It’s frustrating for players when they get involved with the game and then it slows or disconnects,” says Yang. “We expect that by using Windows Server 2008 to run our Web application we will enhance performance, attract more gamers, and handle a much larger user base.”
Most of the revenue at Tyler Projects is generated through small purchases made online by players as the game progresses. By keeping more people online longer, the company expects to increase revenue. “By improving scalability with Windows Server 2008, we expect to be more profitable,” says Yang. “A certain percentage of players will always be willing to pay more, and a larger user base will in turn generate more revenue.”
By using IIS 7.0 in Windows Server 2008 as its Web server, Tyler Projects expects to ease administration. Tests confirmed that its application will migrate smoothly from the Linux-based system to Windows Server 2008, and Tyler Projects is confident that ongoing administration will go equally well.
For example, Yang can use IIS 7.0 Manager on his workstation to deploy and manage Web applications running on multiple remote servers. He can also move sites easily from one server to another. Yang believes that over time the simplified management tools will contribute to business growth by improving productivity. “The management tools integrated with Windows Server 2008 will reduce the time we spend on administration and make more time available for designing applications.”
For More Information
For more information about Microsoft products and services, call the Microsoft Sales Information Center at (800) 426-9400. In Canada, call the Microsoft Canada Information Centre at (877) 568-2495. Customers who are deaf or hard-of-hearing can reach Microsoft text telephone (TTY/TDD) services at (800) 892-5234 in the United States or (905) 568-9641 in Canada. Outside the 50 United States and Canada, please contact your local Microsoft subsidiary. To access information using the World Wide Web, go to:
For more information about Tyler Projects products and services, call 65 9129 8526 or visit the Web site at:
Windows Server 2008
Windows Server 2008, with built-in Web and virtualization technologies, enables you to increase the reliability and flexibility of your server infrastructure. New virtualization tools, Web resources, and security enhancements help you save time, reduce costs, and provide a platform for a dynamic and optimized datacenter. Powerful new tools like IIS 7.0, Server Manager, and Windows PowerShell™, allow you to have more control over your servers and streamline Web, configuration, and management tasks. Advanced security and reliability enhancements like Network Access Protection and the Read-Only Domain Controller option for Active Directory® Domain Services harden the operating system and help protect your server environment to ensure you have a solid foundation on which to build your business.
For more information, go to:
This case study is for informational purposes only. MICROSOFT MAKES NO WARRANTIES, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, IN THIS SUMMARY.
Document published December 2008