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    The online game platform continuing to expand SDN realizes flexible configuration change and quick failure response

With the aging of the equipment, Square Enix, which provides popular online games, adopted Huawei switches, SDN-controller, and visual analyzer for flexible performance, flexible configuration, and quick response to failures.

Square Enix Co., Ltd. releases entertainment content mainly on gaming software. They also publish magazines and sell goods.

Online games like MMOR PG are becoming popular these days, and Square Enix delivers these network services from their equipment in the data center.

Mr. Tatsuya Mori (right), Senior Manager of IT Infrastructure Group, Information Systems Department, Mr. Ryo Tanabe (center) from Network Group, Mr. Yang Wang (left), leader of Network Group, Square Enix

Insufficient capacity as the number of users increases

The network equipment at Square Enix got obsolete after many years of operation. Even though they had expanded repeatedly to support increasing users, there was a lack of capacity both in performance and network configuration. That was why they considered replacing the equipment, and introducing SDN in the hope of flexible network configuration. “Through SDN, we wanted to meet the requests from the server team flexibly, ”says Mr. Ryo Tanabe from Network Group, Square Enix.

Another challenge was troubleshooting. The network group sometimes receives investigation requests from the development team, etc., complaining about slow database response. Mr. Tanabe says“To find the cause, we captured both transmitted packets and received packets to correlate them in chronological order and demarcate whether it is a network problem or server problem. Thus we thought visualized examination would realize efficient fault locating."

Visualization realizes powerful troubleshooting

Square Enix began considering new equipment around March 2020. After repeated verifications at different labs of various vendors, as well as overall considerations such as monitoring tools, etc., the company finally decided to introduce Huawei products around October of the same year.

The network is a spine-leaf configuration, with a top-of-black CloudEngine 6857E-48S6CQ /48T6CQ with 48 10GE access ports and 100GE uplinks on the leaf switch, and modular CloudEngine 8850-32CQ -EI with 32 100GE ports on the spine switch. Super spine is adopted for interconnecting spines. Also, CloudEngine 8850-64CQ-EI, which is the same series as the spine switch and has 64 100GE ports, is adopted. To manage these, iMaster-NCE Fabric is introduced as an SDN controller. FabricInsight, a visual analyzer, is also introduced. Mr. Tanabe says, “The most decisive factor was that I could imagine the operation after the transition,” Since Huawei’s intelligent network analyzer, FabricInsight can properly display latency and route information when investigating the database response speed mentioned above, he could imagine how to handle troubles after the transition.

Of course, iMaster-NCE Fabric has compatibility with SDN. “When handling issues confirmed in the visual analyzer, we can directly tackle problems as operations are closely interconnected with hardware,” added Mr. Tatsuya Mori, Senior Manager of IT Infrastructure Group.

Additional features also supported

After the transition, network performance improved in the first place. For example, the time required for migrating a virtual machine to another physical server was reduced to one-sixth it used to be.

In addition, SDN realized flexible configuration. For example, when connecting to different network segments, it used to take weeks to build a new switch. Now it only takes a few hours.

Regarding visualization of troubles, "In case of a delay, we can now confirm the packet loss at a specific point in time and the buffer usage rate in the history at that moment," said Mr. Wang Yang from Network Group.

Square Enix also made several requests on products. Among the big ones, ZTP (Zero Touch Provisioning) used to be only for the two-layer network configuration of spine-leaf. But at the request of Square Enix, Huawei supported and implemented ZTP on the three-layer configuration of Square Enix's specific spine-leaf super spine. Square Enix also made several other requests, including information that can be displayed on FabricInsight.

Mr. Wang highly evaluates the dedicated support from Huawei. Even in daily operations, support engineers from Huawei responded quickly. In complicated cases, hardware product managers, SDN product managers, support members, SEs, etc. all gathered to solve the problems.

For now, Square Enix's network is only for online services, but they are planning additional services in the same environment. The company will expand the equipment accordingly. They expect much from Huawei, including ZTP capabilities, flexible configuration through SDN, handling increasing traffic through Fabric Insight, and technical support.