Oct 27, 2020

Facebook joins fellow tech giants with cloud gaming push

Facebook
Cloud
gaming
streaming
William Smith
2 min
Facebook has launched a number of cloud-streamed games accessible via its app and website
Facebook has launched a number of cloud-streamed games accessible via its app and website...

Facebook has launched a number of cloud-streamed games accessible via its app and website.

Video games are big business, with the worldwide video game market projected to be worth over $200bn by 2023. That’s attracted the attention of the world’s largest tech companies such as Google and Amazon, who are increasingly active in the space, with Google’s Stadia and Amazon’s Luna cloud gaming platforms.

The traditional giants of the industry have been the big three console manufacturers in the form of Sony, Nintendo and Microsoft. Of those three, only Microsoft straddles the gap between big tech and gaming, and has recently leveraged its own cloud prowess with streaming inside of its games. Indeed, Microsoft’s gaming head Phil Spencer has said that Amazon and Google are now its biggest gaming rivals.

Facebook’s new offering consists of a number of free-to-play games playable across phones, tablets and PCs.

In a blog post, Jason Rubin, VP of Play, Facebook, emphasised that the service was part of its existing casual gaming offering, rather than a totally new product: “All cloud-streamed games are playable in the same way you play games now on Facebook — whether it’s in our Gaming tab or from News Feed. No special hardware or controllers needed – your hands are the controllers since we’re launching with native mobile games. And you can play these games with a mouse and keyboard on desktop. More than 380 million people play games each month on Facebook, and people will play cloud-streamed games right alongside those playing instant games in HTML5.”

The likes of Amazon and Google differentiate themselves by leaning on their strengths, namely their enormous cloud infrastructures, bypassing the traditional home console approach to instead favour streaming video game content online. The ultimate aim is seemingly to create a ‘Netflix of gaming’ with subscriptions replacing ownership.

Facebook’s other major foray into the gaming industry is via its Oculus Quest virtual reality headsets. The new requirement to link the headsets with a Facebook account has recently been the source of some controversy.

(Image: Facebook)

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Jun 8, 2021

Fastly's CDN Reportedly to Blame for Global Internet Outage

Technology
Fastly
servers
websites
Tilly Kenyon & Oliver James Fr...
3 min
Multiple outages have hit social media, government, and news websites across the globe

A huge outage has brought down a number of major websites around the world. Among those affected are gov.uk, Hulu, PayPal, Vimeo, and news outlets such as CNN, The Guardian, The New York Times, BBC, and Financial Times.

It is thought a glitch at Fastly ─ a popular CDN provider ─ is causing the worldwide issue. Fastly has confirmed it’s facing an outage on its status website but fails to specify a reason for the fault ─ only that the problem isn’t limited to a single data centre and, instead, is a “global CDN disruption” that is potentially affecting the company’s global network.

“We’re currently investigating potential impact to performance with our CDN services,” the firm said.

What is Fastly?

Fastly is a content delivery network (CDN) company that helps users view digital content more quickly. The company also provides security, video delivery, and so-called edge computing services. They use strategically distributed, highly performant POPs to help move data and applications closer to users and deliver up-to-date content quickly.

The firm has been proving increasingly popular among leading media websites. After going public on the New York Stock Exchange in 2019, shares rose exponentially in price, but after today’s outages, Fastly’s value has taken a sharp 5.21% fall and are currently trading at US$48.06. 

What are CDNs?

Content delivery networks (CDNs) are a web of small computers, or servers, that link together to collaborate as a single computer. CDNs improve the performance of internet-connected devices by placing these servers as close as possible to the people using those devices in different locations, creating hundreds of points of presence, otherwise known as POPs.

They help minimise delays in loading web page content by reducing the physical distance between the server and the user. This helps users around the world view the same high-quality content without slow loading times. 

Without a CDN, content origin servers must respond to every single end-user request. This results in significant traffic to the origin and subsequent load, thereby increasing the chances for origin failure if the traffic spikes are exceedingly high or if the load is persistent.

The Risk of CDNs

Over time, developers have attempted to protect users from the dangers of overreliance through the implementation of load balancing, DDoS (Denial of Service) protection, web application firewalls, and a myriad of other security features. 

Clearly, by the state of today’s major website outage, these measures aren’t enough. Evidently, CDNs present a risk factor that is widely underestimated ─ which needs to be rectified with haste. Content delivery networks have become a key part of the global infrastructure, and so it’s imperative that organisations start to figure out risk mitigation strategies to protect companies reliant on the interconnected service from further disruption and disarray. 

Over the coming days, both Technology Magazine and Data Centre Magazine will continue to provide updates on the current situation as developments are made.

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