REINVENTION IN THE CLOUD

High­lights from AWS re: In­vent 2015

HWM (Malaysia) - - SPECIAL - Text by Michael Low

“Why are com­pa­nies flock­ing to the cloud so quickly?” That was one of the many ques­tions raised by Andy Jassy, Se­nior Vice Pres­i­dent of Ama­zon Web Ser­vices dur­ing his key­note at AWS re: In­vent 2015. Apart from in­creased agility and the abil­ity to go global in min­utes, Jassy puts it best by say­ing: “The cloud af­fords busi­nesses cer­tain free­doms and the abil­ity to con­trol their busi­nesses’ des­tiny.”

Read on as we take you through our con­ver­sa­tions with two no­table AWS cus­tomers from our part of the re­gion.

“We don’t ac­tu­ally see Netflix as a big threat to what we’re do­ing. The over­lap in con­tent is not big enough that hav­ing both is a good thing for cus­tomers since they in turn get to en­joy a sub­stan­tially wider con­tent base.”

FROM ZERO TO HERO

iflix be­lieves that ev­ery­body should have ac­cess to great con­tent at an af­ford­able price. As one of South­east Asia’s lead­ing on-de­mand video stream­ing ser­vices, iflix cur­rently of­fers a di­verse port­fo­lio of movies and TV con­tent to cus­tomers in Malaysia, the Philip­pines, and Thai­land, which has grown or­gan­i­cally to 850,000 users just a lit­tle be­fore its half-year mark.

Ac­cord­ing to Chief Tech­nol­ogy Of­fi­cer Ash Crick, a busi­ness model like iflix would not have been pos­si­ble with­out the cloud and the plethora of ser­vices pro­vided by AWS. Of­fer­ing far be­yond CPU, RAM and stor­age, AWS ser­vices es­sen­tially en­cap­su­late what the iflix team would have oth­er­wise needed more time and re­sources to en­sure its In­ter­net TV plat­form is ready for prime­time.

While there is a good pro­por­tion of lo­cal con­tent to com­ple­ment the Hol­ly­wood movies and Korean dra­mas, what is iflix’s take on Netflix and its ex­pan­sion into coun­tries like Ja­pan and Aus­tralia?

“We don’t ac­tu­ally see Netflix as a big threat to what we’re do­ing. The over­lap in con­tent is not big enough that hav­ing both is a good thing for cus­tomers since they in turn get to en­joy a sub­stan­tially wider con­tent base,” com­mented Crick.

iflix re­cently launched a fea­ture named ‘Down­load & Watch Off­line’, which gives sub­scribers the abil­ity to down­load TV shows or movies onto their devices for off­line view­ing.

With years of ex­pe­ri­ence in scal­a­bil­ity un­der his belt, Crick and his team clearly think highly of AWS, for iflix runs en­tirely on the cloud-com­put­ing plat­form. “No other cloud providers come close to the num­ber of ser­vices avail­able on AWS,” added Crick.

The iflix team eval­u­ates ev­ery new ser­vice that is in­tro­duced to AWS, swap­ping out cus­tom-writ­ten codes should a par­tic­u­lar ser­vice serve their pur­pose more ef­fi­ciently. When asked about the pos­si­bil­ity of im­ple­ment­ing Ki­ne­sis Fire­hose, Crick men­tioned that it’s def­i­nitely worth ex­plor­ing, see­ing as iflix re­lies on Ki­ne­sis to process stream­ing data of mas­sive scale.

GAM­ING IS SE­RI­OUS BUSI­NESS

The mo­bile games in­dus­try is one in­cred­i­bly com­pet­i­tive mar­ket. gumi Asia, the mo­bile game de­vel­oper be­hind Brave Fron­tier (which amassed more than 30 mil­lion down­loads), un­der­stands this all too well. Un­like con­sole ti­tles, mo­bile games tend to have a shorter life­span, many of which are based around the free-to-play or ‘freemium’ model, as well as in­te­grated with some level of so­cial in­te­gra­tion and a uniquely fun premise.

For ev­ery suc­cess sto­ries, there are count­less that barely reg­is­tered on the radar. It’s also due to this rea­son that most de­vel­op­ers are wary of in­vest­ing in an on-premise or co-lo­cated in­fra­struc­ture, only for the game to be re­tired in less than two years. “It’s bet­ter for us to use a cloud-based ser­vice [like AWS], where we can scale up or down any­time we want,” said Doshi.

As a sub­sidiary of gumi Inc. with teams spread across Sin­ga­pore, the Philip­pines and In­done­sia, gumi Asia cur­rently has six games un­der its belt. With the ex­cep­tion of Chain Chron­i­cle, the other five ti­tles are pow­ered by AWS with shared ser­vices across the ti­tles, al­low­ing the teams to fo­cus on their core ar­eas, whether it’s de­vel­op­ing new IPs or game­play re­fine­ments, and less on in­fra­struc­ture man­age­ment.

An­other rea­son for fa­vor­ing AWS man­aged ser­vices of­fer­ings? “Scal­ing is easy with AWS, and it helps in eval­u­at­ing ar­chi­tec­ture, as well as find­ing so­lu­tions to over­come cer­tain tech­ni­cal hur­dles. In our early days, over­pro­vi­sion­ing puts a great deal of bur­den on us, and we now run load and stress tests on AWS be­fore putting our games into pro­duc­tion. This way, we are pre­pared to fix is­sues that should oc­cur in pro­duc­tion,” Doshi added.

Are mo­bile games the fu­ture? Doshi be­lieved it’s a long way be­fore we get the kind of ex­pe­ri­ence pos­si­ble on ded­i­cated gam­ing con­soles. How­ever, smart­phone man­u­fac­tur­ers are com­ing out with in­creas­ingly pow­er­ful devices, and there will be de­vel­op­ers like gumi Asia who will uti­lize that hard­ware to the ab­so­lute max­i­mum to de­liver the best pos­si­ble mo­bile gam­ing ex­pe­ri­ence.

“Scal­ing is easy with AWS, and it helps in eval­u­at­ing ar­chi­tec­ture, as well as find­ing so­lu­tions to over­come cer­tain tech­ni­cal hur­dles. In our early days, over­pro­vi­sion­ing puts a great deal of bur­den on us, and we now run load and stress tests on AWS be­fore putting our games into pro­duc­tion. This way, we are pre­pared to fix is­sues that should oc­cur in pro­duc­tion.”

Andy Jassy, Se­nior VP, AWS.

ASH CRICK Chief Tech­nol­ogy Of­fi­cer, iflix

NI­RAV DOSHI Tech­ni­cal Di­rec­tor, gumi Asia

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