Beating the Game: Don’t Let ‘Game On’ Become ‘Game Over’

Online gamers demand high performance and low latency. Hiccups, downtime and anything else that slows real-time gameplay won’t ­– and shouldn’t – be tolerated.

Imagine, thousands of players are slamming your network and servers in an all-out battle, when threat actors launch an assault of their own, in the form of a multi-vector distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack with the sole purpose of ending the game with an unceremonious thud instead of a victorious wail.

Queue the Pac Man death sound effect.

High-performance networks must be fast. They must be reliable. And, perhaps most importantly, they must be secure.

But massively multiplayer online gaming (MMOG) networks and application infrastructures add another level of criticality. They are challenging to architect and operate and are unique in the scale of bi-directional, real-time data path and sensitivity to latency, packet loss, scale of player access and geodiversity of users. The gaming industry also suffers from more than half of all DDoS attacks globally.

So how do online gaming providers ensure a seamless experience for their customers, while ensuring their networks are free from attacks while still achieving massive scale and performance?

Fortifying QuakeCon

Take QuakeCon, for example. The annual gaming festival brings together thousands gamers and builds a massive network from scratch to support what’s become North America’s largest BYOC (bring-your-own-computer) LAN party. It’s a massive undertaking and a labor of love, and it’s imperative to deliver the swift and secure gaming experience attendees have come to expect for more than two decades.

QuakeCon 2017 Executive Director Travis “Ash” Bradshaw says it best: “The infrastructure that we build out every year for QuakeCon is a mammoth undertaking that can really put networking hardware to the test. Not only do our discerning attendees have demanding performance needs, but there’s also the setup and configuration requirements of building the QuakeCon network from scratch in just a few days.”

While not an online gaming service, QuakeCon essentially builds a full-scale, temporary gaming network to support the four-day event. The powerful network is the event’s secret weapon – it comprises thousands of computers, hundreds of edge switches and a lot of sweat.

And for QuakeCon 2017, one of the cornerstones of the network is A10 Thunder CGN (carrier-grade networking), which QuakeCon has tapped to deliver fast and secure gameplay for all participants. A10 Thunder CGN is an award-winning, high-performance IPv4 preservation and IPv6 migration solution and delivers industry-leading performance of 300 Gbps and 512 million concurrent sessions in a single appliance. Thunder CGN also offers up to 2½ times the performance of competing solutions with less than half the data center footprint.

“The CGN technology from A10 Networks fills an essential role in the success of that infrastructure right at the edge, supporting workloads from game patching to critical outbound streaming all at the same time,” Bradshaw continues.

Powering Up Online Gaming

A10 delivers premium application delivery and server-session connectivity for online gaming — mitigating risk of downtime, reducing cost and protecting reputation. Gaming providers rely on A10 to accelerate and secure massive gaming platforms and services with powerful data center firewalls, site-to-site or site-to-cloud IPsec VPN, and integrated global DDoS protection. They optimize performance and reduce lag with global server load balancing (GSLB) and leverage public clouds and cloud-native application delivery controllers (ADC) to quickly scale application services as games grow in demand.

Staying Ahead of the Game

And while high-performance, scale and speed are key; when it comes to gaming networks, security is the boss.

Online gaming services are constantly under fire from massive DDoS attacks, some that can reach the 200 Gbps to 500 Gbps range. They’re targeted for several reasons, whether it’s an act of revenge, extortion or a source of pride, or maybe a player wants to preserve their stats and not fall to the competition and launches a DDoS attack to remain the champ.

Regardless of the motive, when play is suspended, gamers are frustrated, and gaming providers’ money and credibility are obliterated.

That’s why seven out of the top 12 online gaming companies in the world trust their DDoS defense to A10 Thunder TPS. Thunder TPS delivers proactive, terabit-scale DDoS protection, to help protect gaming infrastructure from modern, multi-vector DDoS attacks with a two-pronged defense system that combines industry-leading attack mitigation and detection.

Thunder TPS continuously monitors network traffic to immediately detect and shut down any bandwidth, application or network attack vectors. It has the power to accurately distinguish the good traffic from the bad with more than 27 behavioral and traffic indicators; it cost-effectively scales to support all gamers with 300 Gbps and 440 Mpps of throughput; and provides hardware-based mitigation for 60 of the most common attack vectors.

In the end, gaming providers get optimized performance, maximized revenue and, of course, satisfied gamers.

A Triple Threat

Combined, A10’s portfolio of gaming solutions is a triple threat to deliver speed, scale and security.

“A10 is the premier provider of high-performance networking and security solutions for the online gaming industry with our product lines for CGN, ADC and DDoS protection,” says A10 Director of Systems Engineering Rob Justice.

That’s why massive gaming events like QuakeCon and the world’s largest online gaming companies rely on A10.

“A massive network-based gaming event like QuakeCon and online gaming providers demand infrastructure that delivers speed, reliability, security and scale, which is why they trust A10,” Justice adds.

A10 Networks helps gaming providers ensure that “game on” never becomes “game over.”

Learn more about A10’s solutions for online gaming.

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