Finland-based Rovio Entertainment is the entertainment media company behind such games as Angry Birds, Bad Piggies, Angry Birds Star Wars I & II, and The Croods. Angry Birds became a sensation a few months after its release, and the games are now some of the most popular of all time with more than 1.7 billion downloads globally. The Toons channel—Rovio’s video streaming service—generates more than 100 million views each month and delivers high-quality family entertainment that can be accessed directly in the game. Rovio has grown as quickly as its games, employing more than 700 people in its Finnish headquarters and international offices worldwide. With the Rovio Stars publishing program, Rovio is also paving the way for new blockbuster games from third parties.
Online games come with their own set of challenges. Games have to be available in every part of the world and at any time of the day or night, no matter how many users are playing. The infrastructure supporting the games needs to be cost-effective and easy to maintain, and at the same time flexible enough to handle spikes in usage. Sustained, secure availability is a must. For Rovio to succeed, the company knew it had to complement its games with a mature and stable cloud offering.
“Rovio needed an infrastructure service that could scale at a dramatic pace,” says Mikko Peltola, Operations Lead at Rovio. “The massive success of the Angry Birds games required online services that could match the growth rates with ease. And with our worldwide audience, we also needed both a hosting solution and a distribution network with a global reach.” In addition, in the games and entertainment business, costs must adapt to changes in user and traffic volumes.
Why Amazon Web Services
“Right from the start, we wanted to use Amazon Web Services (AWS) to build our global infrastructure,” Peltola says. “We had used AWS with some projects early on and we knew it could meet our needs, particularly when it comes to our growing international customer base. We wanted to build a rich set of online services for our games, and using AWS as our platform was the natural choice,” Peltola says. “Practically all Rovio games use services running on AWS. For example, both the original Angry Birds and The Croods—based on the hit DreamWorks movie—rely heavily on services running on the AWS Cloud.”
Rovio is using several AWS services, including Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) and Amazon Relational Database Service (Amazon RDS) in the Amazon Virtual Private Cloud (Amazon VPC) environment, as well as Amazon Elastic MapReduce (Amazon EMR) for analytics processing. The company also uses Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3) and Amazon CloudFront for global distribution.
Rovio runs a very automated and distributed architecture, which makes it easy for the company to scale up and down. “It’s designed to be distributed, scalable, and fail-proof,” Peltola says. “We’ve put a lot of effort into making sure we have a very clean platform architecture to support applications that are lightweight, reliable, and scalable.”
Automation, whether it is for orchestration or deployment, is a crucial component of the platform. Good APIs are the key to building a dynamic environment.
“The flexibility of the AWS Cloud allows us to do things that we otherwise couldn’t do,” Peltola says. “We can scale up as the number of players goes up, which fluctuates quite a lot during the week. And we control this, so we can automatically increase the processing power for our services. With a traditional on-premises infrastructure, that would not be possible.”
The flexibility of the AWS Cloud also benefits Rovio’s developers, who can easily increase the required resources during the development and testing phases and also quickly prototype different technologies.
“By combining the power of AWS compute and storage with the Amazon CloudFront content delivery network, we can provide an excellent user experience to everybody playing our games and watching our video content—regardless of their geographical location,” Peltola says.