A Game-changing Partnership with BJSS

    A gaming development company renowned for creating the best loved and most eagerly awaited gaming experiences, decided to future-proof its business and migrate its on-premise data centre to the Azure cloud with the help of BJSS. BJSS ensured that industry best practice was adopted, and that the transition was carried out collaboratively, securely, and without disruption.

    Navigating Growing Pains: A Need to Transition from On-Premise to Cloud Infrastructure

    Some companies see the benefit of keeping their technology infrastructure entirely in-house. In the case of this organisation, its data centre was a fundamental enabler of its business. The organisation’s teams of creatives, artists, developers and testers relied upon it to develop and produce the titles for which the studio has become renowned.

    However, when the company committed to growing and evolving its games through regular updates of key titles, it became clear that the IT needs of the organisation had outgrown its on-premise infrastructure.

    The company had several teams developing software images of their games. Each image was around 50GB, and it was common for several hundred images to be developed and published to the Build environment every day. Most development took place during the week and during working hours, so extremely high CPU loads were recorded during the day but there was surplus capacity available overnight.

    In addition to technical challenges, such as the storage environment becoming increasingly difficult to scale, there were other broader infrastructure supply problems too. The company had no more facility space to expand its data centre and the local utility provider was unable to provide additional electricity capacity to meet the growing needs.

    Migration from on-premise infrastructure to the cloud provides a more efficient, lower-maintenance option for these fast-paced environments, with benefits including automatic software updates, lower operating costs, automatic capacity scaling, enhanced disaster recovery, and universal access.

    That being said, poorly executed and misconfigured environments can be costly or result in significant operational harm. Migrating a data centre to the cloud is a challenging undertaking. It not only carries inherent risks but also involves a lengthy process to successfully transfer essential components such as hardware, software, networking, and operations into a new and often unfamiliar environment.

    The organisation needed outside expertise to cost effectively increase the scalability, service availability, security and lifetime of its titles, so that it's team could continue to create exciting new stories and worlds.

    What is studio-in-a-box?

    BJSS introduced studio-in-a-box, an all-encompassing service that empowers studios to engage their players and unlock their teams by leveraging and migrating their on-premise infrastructure to Azure cloud technology.

    By combining Azure expertise with cloud-native accelerators delivering reusable vending capabilities, BJSS offers technology solutions that free up time to allow gaming experts to do what they love: Building and delivering next-generation gaming experiences; and this is exactly what was done for this organisation.

    Studio-in-a-box fast-tracks adoption of cloud services – arming organisations with better tools, technology and data insights to transform how they make games. In this case, the sheer amount of data added a layer of complexity to the undertaking, however BJSS worked closely with the organisation to ensure the project was a success.

    Seamless Cloud Integration: Empowering the Future of Gaming

    There are many ways in which the implementation of studio-in-a-box helped the organisation remain a leader in the field of gaming, including cloud migration, build pipeline migration, website componentry that powers player forums, aiding the setup and operation of an improved incident management approach and process, and supporting tooling that frees up developers to focus on gaming development.

    The project started quickly with a thorough Discovery phase. BJSS aimed to understand the needs of game studios and developers better, with a focus on getting a clear picture of the data centre's current setup, dependencies, and how it affects operations. The team then moved on to planning the new cloud service and executing the migration of the Build environment.

    This was achieved by implementing BJSS Enterprise Cloud which provides the foundations, processes, tools and templates needed to rapidly deploy meaningful and robust cloud environments. The framework encapsulates and operationalises the business of cloud implementation so that value can be achieved quickly, all based on BJSS’ extensive experience of delivering complex environments into the public cloud. Through close collaboration with the company on this framework, BJSS provided crucial knowledge transfer to ensure ongoing and sustained domain expertise.

    This large and complex project has already resulted in the successful migration of some of the organisation’s supporting systems to Azure. Benefits are already being realised through reduced cost, greater availability, and improved robustness.

    In partnership, BJSS and the company are working towards migrating and decommissioning all remaining environments, enabling them to create environments for two new games.

    The Operations team from BJSS met to discuss what change meant to the team, how the process could be implemented and discuss change enablement, allowing for increased visibility of team output. This allowed for the protection of services and titles from unnecessary downtime and ensured that during a period of change players still got the best out of the titles.

    The BJSS team identified the tasks that needed to be performed to build the change process and worked iteratively to develop a process that proved effective.

    Once the groundwork was laid, BJSS started to sound out the process with the team leads. The process was defined as a beta version and the implementation was made inclusive to demonstrate that this process was for the organisation to shape and have a say by fostering an open and honest feedback loop, making improvements where necessary and gaining buy in at every step.

    The enterprise-scale architecture provides prescriptive guidance coupled with Azure best practices and follows design principles across the critical design areas for organisations to define their Azure architecture.

    With the ‘game as a service’ approach games evolve and grow over the years. With modern day game delivery often taking place on the online marketplace – where games, updates and new seasons can be purchased. A game is not a onetime purchase. With the freemium model a commonplace occurrence in gaming, where the game is free, and extras can be bought if you wish.

    Cloud and DevOps are there to facilitate the game as a service offering, with Microsoft Azure having the ability to be maximised in a DevOps approach.

    As an ongoing managed service; from initial build, to cloud migration, to retrospective meetings, BJSS worked to support the team, to understand their needs and implement what would work best for not only the organisation, but players as well.

    Ensuring security at every project stage was a priority for BJSS; a crucial element for the project's success was the swift and secure execution of the migration.

    Cloud Transformation Excellence: Azure Migration and Enhanced Game Development

    BJSS managed the migration of the on-premise data centre to the Azure cloud, allowing the organisation to meet customer demands securely and efficiently, with limited downtime. Working closely with BJSS throughout the process ensured that they moved at pace and inline with what was required to keep up with user demand, ultimately allowing the organisation to create games that keep players coming back.

    “I'd just like to say that the team have been absolutely great, and I couldn't be happier with the way the whole project was started.”

    Lead Software Engineer - Pipeline

    Studio-in-a-box arms gaming studios with better tools, technology and data insights to transform the way games are made. BJSS invested time in understanding the needs and wants of the organisation, as well as those of their gaming audience. This effort led to the establishment of a positive and productive working relationship. The BJSS team has quarterly retro meetings to ensure that the service is still fit for purpose and continues to add value to the organisation.

    BJSS helps games studios maximise Azure Cloud adoption, with a focus on reducing time to value, leveraging our Azure native accelerators, providing you with a clear direction of travel. Combining our deep technical knowledge of the cloud with our passion for the needs of game studios and developers.

    Studio-in-a-box Benefits

    Unlock the full potential of your gaming organisation with studio-in-a-box. This comprehensive solution empowers gaming organisations to:

    Improve creator experience - Through the self-serve provisioning of infrastructure, virtual machines and developer tools accessible from anywhere, at any time.

    Realise unparalleled player insights - Build robust, accessible data platforms, integrated and secured with industry leading Microsoft technology.

    Build foundational security - Baked into your platform using Infrastructure as Code, you can ensure that your IP is safe, without hindering creativity.

    Unshackle build pipelines - Through automated, repeatable software builds to accelerate creation, using studio-friendly tooling with burst and growth scaling.

    Achieve clear observability – Through customisable dashboards, view your alerting, monitoring and reporting to identify issues and risks across your studio.

    Build out a managed service - Assemble live service operations, reporting, customer insights and forum management, to remove ongoing impact of running live service teams.

    Studio-in-a-box is designed for games studios to accelerate and optimise adoption of Azure technologies. Regardless of where you are on your cloud journey, studio-in-a-box fast-tracks your adoption of cloud services. Established studios limited by on-premise technology, or a new studio building the foundations of something great, can unlock the true potential of their studio with studio-in-a-box, a cloud acceleration service from BJSS.

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