IT pros save the day for ‘Gears of War’

Jan 30, 2017   |  

A small squad of IT professionals – in their quiet, geeky way – totally saved the day for Gears of War 4.

People tend to throw the word “epic” around willy-nilly. It’s used to describe all manner of things – burritos, a Friday night out, a vacation, a work karaoke party where the boss performs Toto’s “Africa” – but in this context, the description fits.

When The Coalition, the Vancouver, BC-based game studio behind Gears of War, started building the latest installment of its blockbuster franchise, the team started to wonder whether their network could keep pace with the massive demands of game creation. With Gears of War 4, the stakes were high, and the IT professionals at The Coalition and Microsoft wanted to build a faster network – and fast.

But even if they were able to design a landmark solution in time, was it even possible to update the network of a game studio in the middle of creating a major release? It would be the IT equivalent of swapping engines on a jumbo jet mid-flight.

“No pressure,” joked Joe Vogt, IT services manager for The Coalition game studio.

Spoiler alert: They did it.

It’s an example of how, increasingly, the role of Microsoft IT as the first and best user of the company’s rapidly evolving products and services has it playing a pivotal role in helping the company digitally transform itself, said Jim DuBois, Chief Information Officer at Microsoft.

“This is a really important culture change for us,” DuBois said. “By culture, I mean relationships, vision, teamwork, communication—things of that nature. I’ve seen a dramatic change within the company and within our group, and we have to continue to get everyone on board.”

To give you a taste of that cultural transformation, read the Microsoft IT Showcase feature Speeds and feeds, a behind-the-scenes story of the kind of explosively powerful network it takes to support the creation of video game worlds and the “IT ninjas” who made it happen.

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