AWS puts us at ease by providing strong support for our business growth.


Gao Chi System Architect at Microfun Inc.

Founded in August 2008 in Beijing, Microfun Inc. (“Microfun”) specializes in developing, selling, and operating high-quality casual mobile games. Nurturing a corporate culture that promotes fun, educational, and quality games, Microfun aspires to become a leading mobile gaming brand in the world. Its star mobile game, Jellipop Match, has many a time made the top 3 list for casual match 3 games since launch in August 2014. In December 2015, the game won the inaugural Blackstone Award given by the Mobile Hardcore Alliance (M.H.A); and by July 2016, the game had 10 million daily active players. In May 2017, Microfun launched Munchkin Match, another match 3 masterpiece, which was recommended by the Apple App Store.

Microfun has been recognized as a National High-Tech Enterprise and Zhongguancun High-Tech Enterprise, among other honors and distinctions.

The company started on managed servers at Internet Data Center. As its business expanded and cloud computing technology matured, Microfun successively tried three domestic cloud service providers, but was frustrated by issues like bandwidth limits and CPU overselling. For a game company, service instability is often fatal; this is especially true during promotional events, when unreliable services would cause financial and player losses, directly impeding business growth.

Confronted with these issues as well as the need to expand to overseas markets, Microfun had to reconsider its cloud service provider, one that can guarantee server stability and provide 24/7 uninterrupted services to customers.

The launch of Jellipop Match and Munchkin Match resulted in a surge in player count, with daily active players in China alone exceeding 10 million. Growing business and player traffic meant higher demand for server stability and security. As an early entrant to the cloud service market, Amazon Web Services (AWS) has served millions of active users in over 190 countries or regions by February 2018, boasting extensive experiences, a stellar reputation, and widely recognized system stability and flexibility. This is why Microfun turned its eyes to AWS.

Stable, flexible and reliable

Elastic Load Balancing (ELB) automatically distributes incoming application traffic across multiple targets, such as Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) instances, containers, and IP addresses. It can handle the varying traffic load in a single Available Zone or across multiple Available Zones.

ELB enables applications to scale to user traffic, which is exactly what Microfun needs to cope with sudden spikes in gaming traffic, ensure server stability, and provide players with a hitch-free gaming experience.

Amazon CloudWatch monitors various services, and when a problem emerges, it will issue a security alert to O&M personnel via email for timely resolution.

Highly secure game data

Amazon Virtual Private Cloud (Amazon VPC)’s advanced security features, such as security groups and network access control lists, enable inbound and outbound filtering at the instance level and subnet level. It may also be configured as a gatekeeper to the data stored in Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3), so that such data are only accessible through Amazon VPC, further enhancing data access security.

Because game data – such as in-game items, pictures, and user information – are key assets of Microfun, the company has placed utmost priority on architecture design and service security. The architecture design of Microfun fully takes advantage of the security group and logic isolation functions of Amazon VPC, so that users may access data only when they have the required permissions. This ensures game data are highly secure.

Rapid data migration

The speed of data migration directly affects how soon a project can be deployed. Microfun has 50 TB of game data. Using a 60 mbps connection, it would take the company 30 days to upload its data to AWS data centers; and using a dedicated line would incur a monthly bill of RMB 50,000 to 60,000. Either option comes at a significant time and financial cost. With AWS Snowball, by contrast, it only takes 7 days to migrate 50 TB of data at a leasing cost of RMB 1,000 per month. This solution makes it much faster and cheaper for Microfun to complete data migration.

Snowball is a petabyte-scale data transport solution that uses devices designed to be secure to transfer large amount of data into and out of the AWS Cloud. Rapid, secure, and cost-efficient, Snowball addresses common challenges with large-scale data transfers including long transfer times, security concerns, and high network costs.

Powerful analytic tools

Microfun employs AWS’ powerful data analysis services. In particular, Amazon Kinesis permits Microfun to collect, process, and analyze real-time streaming data to timely capture and respond to new information. Amazon EMR’s Hadoop framework, on the other hand, allows Microfun to make regular business intelligence reports and swiftly estimate the commercial value of its games. Using AWS’ powerful data analytic tools, Microfun is able to develop highly targeted and effective promotion and sales plans.

Last but not least, the global coverage of AWS’ Available Zones is another factor that convinced Microfun to choose the AWS cloud.

Figure 1 shows Microfun’s mobile game architecture, achieved on AWS using Amazon EC2, ELB, CloudWatch, Amazon Route 53, Amazon S3, Kinesis, Amazon EMR, Snowball, Amazon VPC, Amazon Simple Notification Service (Amazon SNS), and Amazon Simple Queue Service (SQS), among others.

Microfun-arch-diag

Figure 1  Microfun Mobile Game System Architecture on AWS

Microfun now boasts ten million plus active daily players and 50 TB of data. They are supported by two systems respectively deployed in AWS China (Beijing) Region (operated by Beijing Sinnet Technology Co., Ltd.) and AWS overseas Regions, with the most frequently used AWS being Amazon EC2, ELB, Amazon S3, and Amazon EMR. For Microfun, the most obvious benefits of using AWS are the greater stability and security of its gaming systems and the lowering O&M cost.

“AWS provides strong support to our business. In the past, we would have three to four infrastructure incidents each year on average. They have become a thing of the past since we switched to the AWS cloud; everything has been very stable,” said System Architect Gao Chi. Microfun’s burgeoning business has made service stability a bigger priority. When traffic surges during game promotions (when almost 200,000 players will attempt to connect in a ten-minute window, as past experiences have shown), any system or network problem would affect user experience, putting player base and company investment at risk. AWS has greatly improved system availability and adequately protected Microfun’s business operations.

Microfun employs CloudWatch to monitor server applications in real-time, helping it collect and track indicators, set alerts, and gain a bird’s-eye view of the resource utilization rate and system performance. If there is a program error, CloudWatch will immediately notify O&M personnel by email so that they can quickly resolve the issue and get the application up and running. “CloudWatch monitoring service offers accurate error diagnosis and positioning – much more accurate than our in-house monitoring system,” added Gao. Effective monitoring and the high stability and availability of AWS have cut down maintenance workload and, therefore, running costs.

In addition, Microfun also utilizes AWS to enable agile and efficient big data analysis and report presentation. Amazon EMR data analytic platform and Kinesis allow Microfun to perform comprehensive analysis of its game systems, enable instant presentation of sales and product reports, and help its business lines to develop more swiftly and effectively.

For more information about how to rapidly develop games that appeal to global players, please visit our Game Development page.