1. #1

    Blizzard's Physical Server Locations - where are they all?

    OK, the information I've got on wow suggests that Blizzard has servers located in:

    US Region: New York, Chicago, Phoenix, Los Angeles
    EU Region: Paris, Stockholm, Dusseldorf, Frankfurt, Hamburg

    I'm looking for further information on where Bliz servers are for their other games - SC2 & D3.

    Rumour I've heard is that D3 servers are in Paris for all of EU & "West Coast US" for all of the US.

    For SC2 I've heard "West Coast US" and "East Coast US", and nothing about EU.

    Can anyone provide more information about SC2 & D3 server locations? Or even just confirm whether I am/am-not correct?

    I'd also be somewhat curious about the asian server locations for the three games.

    Is it just me, or is Blizzard progressively making bigger & bigger servers in fewer & fewer locations?
    Last edited by lakhesis; 2012-05-30 at 06:59 AM.

  2. #2
    The Patient Taliesyn's Avatar
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    You're incorrect. On a number of counts.

    ETA: Why are you so curious about where precisely their servers are?
    Last edited by Taliesyn; 2012-05-30 at 07:20 AM.

  3. #3
    Quote Originally Posted by Taliesyn View Post
    You're incorrect. On a number of counts.

    ETA: Why are you so curious about where precisely their servers are?
    Which counts & can you provide more information?

    And I'm interested because I find it odd that Blizzard seems to be centralising their dataservers at the same time as distributed computing is really coming into its own. I question whether they'd have the same degree of server issues they're having currently if they used a more modular+distributed approach.

    There are comments that've come from their discussions with Australian datacenter providers that Blizzard policy won't allow for any datacenter that isn't sized in terms of rooms rather than racks.

    I'd like to know more about this policy & hopefully open up some constructive discussion on the pros/cons.

    My personal bias is that these sort of mega-datacenter approaches seem to lock gaming companies out of any market smaller than China, the EU & the US. My question then is whether potential economies of scale really make it worthwhile from a market penetration standpoint, et cetera. It seems very all-your-eggs-in-one-basket.

    PS. And from a bit more information I've found on SC2, it seems like that runs out of Paris & Frankfurt for the EU, and New York & Los Angeles for the US. Still can't find anything that sounds genuinely coherent regarding D3.
    Last edited by lakhesis; 2012-05-30 at 07:44 AM.

  4. #4
    I don't know Blizzards policy, but it seems you don't know what Distributed Computing is or what it is good for and what it really isn't.

  5. #5
    The Patient Taliesyn's Avatar
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    I can't tell you about Blizzard's Battle.net servers for D3 and SC2, but I know of at least two datacenters for WoW in cities you've not listed. I suppose I could ask a few friends there where all the servers are, but I doubt the reply I'd get back would be printable, as I have no need to know. I can tell you, however, that they tend to use datacenters rather than host their own server farms, and these companies often provide server farms for multiple companies, not just Blizzard. I know that one East Coast datacenter is, or at least was, shared by Mythic and Blizzard.

    Blizz likes to have their servers spread out a bit so that one outage doesn't shut the entire game down. The battlegroups you see in WoW for which realms can group with which in the dungeon finder pretty much correspond to the datacenters.

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by obdigore View Post
    I don't know Blizzards policy, but it seems you don't know what Distributed Computing is or what it is good for and what it really isn't.
    I'm using the term distributed computing purely in a layman's manner - multiple servers in different physical locations handling client-side interactions (e.g. immediate gameplay interaction), while sharing a common pool of information amongst themselves (e.g. character data).

    The quote I'm referring to is from Simon Hacket, the CEO of Internode:

    WoW server clusters are very very expensive (they have a certain minimum size of deployment they refuse to go below, and that minimum size is so expensive – and takes a hell of a lot of data centre power, rack space and resources). You'd probably be shocked at just how large the smallest deployment actually is.

    This isn't just 'a few racks of servers'. Its (in modern parlance) a major cloud computing hub. Think data centre rooms, not data centre racks.

    As a result, Blizzard don't have a business case to do it here because on their numbers, it'll never make the costs of the deployment back from revenue out of the (relatively small) player base here.
    That was 2 years ago. Since then my impression is that Blizzard is going further & further down the path of enlarging their minimum datacenter size for SC2 & then enlarging it even further for D3.

    I want to know if that's an accurate impression, I'd like to know to what degree this is just another "bigger = better" mentality at play and to what degree it's logical efficiencies.

    If you routinely want to move 100 tonne of dirt, you don't get a truck that can move 100 tonne. You get a fleet of smaller trucks. Human nature would invariably prefer the big truck - only one item to worry about maintaining, it gets the job done all at once, you need fewer drivers, plus it's just cooler - but it doesn't actually make sense.

    Computers aren't moving around dirt, but the problem is still one of shifting payloads in the appropriate size, with appropriate speed, and with appropriate efficiency.

    And yes, I wouldn't be asking these questions if I already knew the answers or the logic behind them =)

  7. #7
    Distributed Computing isn't going to change Blizzards policy with how they setup their data centers. I would assume that this policy is based off the fact that they don't see any kind of increased monetary gain for having a large number of small data centers as opposed to fewer, larger ones. What the company I work for does is quite different than Blizzard, but most large companies run as few data centers as they can. Each center is a huge cost in space, electricity, and personal required to support the hardware (including network) and physical location.

    As I said, I don't know how they setup their data centers or what kind of resources each session needs, so I'm hesitant to guess on why/how they do what they do.

    Just FYI, Technically Blizzard already uses Distributed Computing in both their clusters and their client/server connections. But I assume you are asking 'why cant the aussies get a couple servers down here', which is apparently a policy decision, and not a hardware decision. But again, that is me guessing since I don't know who made it or what the policy actually is.

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by obdigore View Post
    Just FYI, Technically Blizzard already uses Distributed Computing in both their clusters and their client/server connections. But I assume you are asking 'why cant the aussies get a couple servers down here', which is apparently a policy decision, and not a hardware decision. But again, that is me guessing since I don't know who made it or what the policy actually is.
    Yeah, it's one of those elements that has a foot in both camps of being a policy & hardware decision.

    There's an awful lot of grumbling from multiple countries (e.g. Africans wanting a server, Taiwanese wanting a D3 server that's not in Korea, AU/NZ, Singapore, etc) that seem to fall beneath whatever Blizzard's magic size is. Other games do have servers in many of these places. There are BF3 & SWTOR servers in Australia for example. I believe Taiwan has a WoW server, but they definitely do not have a D3 server.

    So what I'd like to do is get an understanding of the logic behind the pure hardware side of the equation without the fighting over policy.

    If - and that's a very big if - the rumour that D3 doesn't even have an East Coast US server is accurate, it seems like that's taking what may have originated as a logical hardware decision, turning it into policy, and then expanding on it to a degree where there is no longer a logical hardware-based reason to back it. If the East Coast US is too small to justify the benefits of a more localised data center that sounds pretty extreme.

    But that's a gut impression from someone who's not familiar with the hardware side of it, so I'd curious to find out more about both Blizzard specific factors & general datacenter trends/methodologies.

  9. #9
    Blizzard would also be looking an network speed and saturation and location of their other Data Centers before they decide to put a new one in. If they have one in the midwest, then I find it perfectly reasonable that the US East Coast does not need one, especially if it is in Chicago or Dallas or Minneapolis.

    You are more worried about their Policy of not putting in a server farm/data center in a place that does not meet their size requirements. That policy was put in place by 'the powers that be' and you would have to get some kind of official answer from blizzard on what the policy says and why it is in place.

  10. #10
    Elemental Lord MerinPally's Avatar
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    I can tell you where the servers are for each of the WoW realms, but that's all the information I could find Can't see to see SC or D ones.

    http://www.guildox.com/go/g.asp?a=11

  11. #11
    The Patient Taliesyn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MerinPally View Post
    I can tell you where the servers are for each of the WoW realms, but that's all the information I could find Can't see to see SC or D ones.

    http://www.guildox.com/go/g.asp?a=11
    Hmm...that's interesting. I know there's a datacenter in Seattle, because Pat (their head server guy a couple years back) had to come up to work on it every time there was an extended downtime. In fact, that's the one my server at that time was on..

    I also know they at least USED to have one in Fairfax, based in the same building that housed Mythic's DAOC and WAR servers.

    I guess it's possible they stopped using those particular datacenters.

  12. #12
    The wowpedia entry for US datacenters says:

    US realms are hosted for Blizzard in several datacenters across the United States. They are located in, from east to west:
    New York, New York (moved from Boston, Massachusetts on 7/20/2010)
    Chicago, Illinois (moved from Dallas, Texas in June 2010)
    Phoenix, Arizona (moved from Seattle, Washington as of 8/17/2010)
    Los Angeles, California

    Now how accurate that is, I don't know. They have a similar list for EU sites but don't say anything about other regions or the other Blizzard franchises. Guildox seems to match with wowpedia (and apparently nowhere outside the US & EU actually has a city lol)

    I got my SC2 summaries from a Team Liquid post talking about minimising latency in SC2, which specified battle.net IP addresses for Frankfurt, Paris, NY, LA, Seoul & Singapore - prior to that I only had "EU, West US, East US, KR & Singapore".

    And I have no solid source for D3 information beyond unreliable gossip on bliz's d3 forums.
    Last edited by lakhesis; 2012-05-30 at 09:41 AM.

  13. #13
    OP reading your posts, i still think you're not sure what distributed computing actually is. Distributed computing doesn't mean small group of computers distributed across a large number of physical location (There are instance that do it like that, like the folding[at]home framework). Rather its the actual computation that is spread across a number (small or large) of computer. The exact location of the computers is decided by other factor. In an ideal world it shouldn't matter where actual computing node are, but in our ugly physical world, spreading out your computing unit too much means you're fighting against electron speed to get the data where you need it.

    In blizzard case you can't really argue that small computing node physically distributed in a large number of location really make much sense. Think about it, if they wanted to have small server cluster all over the place, blizzard would need to either
    - rent lots of places to locate their servers and hire people to admin them in different location
    - rent computing unit from someone.

    In the first case i think you can see that it would cost much more money to do so than their current setup, while not offering much of an advantage. While physical server could be closer to the customers, they also will be separated from each other, so "time" you win on one side, you'll lose transfering data between servers. The solution would be making the zone (as in EU/West Coast/East Coast/ASIA) smaller, but i don't think anyone would want a situation where you could only play with say, people in your state.


    The second solution is actually quite harder to dismiss, and one could make the case that blizzard should have rented a bunch of extra-server for diablo 3 launch, then scale down to using only their own server once the number of concurrent online player lower and stabilize. While we have no idea exactly how blizzard server side software works, we can probably assume that this sort of technology is something they posess. I think bliz is not too keen on this idea because it would means their server software (battle.net, diablo 3 and starcraft 2 servers and wow realm and instance servers) would be located on machine they do not own, which could mean it could possibly be leaked out (read they don't want private server using their software to spring up).

    Lastly, i m not really that much acquainted with the cloud computing market place, but i m not sure they could actually find a single service provider that could give them more location than they currently have. For example if we take the leading cloud computing provider currently Amazon web services (i think they are the leading provider, don't quote me on it though), they have, the last time i checked, only three location where you could obtain instance in western europe (i think all in Ireland ?). A bit more in the US, but really, not much more than what blizzard currently have. Sure blizzard could rent it from a bunch of different provider (assuming they could find enough to actually get them into some physically different place), but it would probably be an administrating nightmare : just think of maintenance night now and how that could escalate if blizzard, A. didn't have physical control of the machine they work on and B. have their infrastructure fractured all over the place among different provider.


    TL;DR : blizzard is too big of a dog to be able to use services provided by other people. As a small e-commerce website owner, one can rent a few computing unit on amazon EC2, in different location and use that, but with the size of their infrastructure, their only solution, currently is to host their own servers. Given that, it's also way easier for them to have a few big servers cluster than a bunch of small ones.

    Y

    p.s. sorry if this is only tangentially related to you initial question, i just like to explain stuff i guess

  14. #14
    Pit Lord
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    If you can find the IP addresses (you'll need help, but you can do it through the netstat command) to the various servers you're connecting to, then it should be relatively simple to pinpoint not just a city, but the actual datacenter the servers are located in.
    ^ The above should be taken with two grains of salt and a fistful of "chill the F* out".

  15. #15
    I wish the Chicago one was still in Dallas, lol. I miss my lower ms. Plus we got a lot more Texas people that way, which was cool.

  16. #16
    Quote Originally Posted by Kirilenko View Post
    p.s. sorry if this is only tangentially related to you initial question, i just like to explain stuff i guess
    Actually that's very much along some of the tangents I was curious to know more about, ty =)

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