What Cloud Service Providers Can Learn From Video Games
I’ve mentioned before on The VAR Guy: When I’m not watching developments in the cloud, I can be found losing IQ points in front of a video game or six. But when a company like OnLive announces that it’s going to deliver video games-as-a-service to customers starting this summer, you know I have to talk about it here. Here’s what I think cloud service providers can learn from OnLive and the video game market.
There’s still a lot of skepticism about OnLive’s model: the company will host video games in their cloud, and when a user calls up a title, the game will be streamed in real time and playable instantly. Essentially, it would be to gaming what Netflix Watch Instantly is to film fans.
The trouble is, it’s hard enough to get stutter-free video to a consumer — and if you’ve seen a video game made in the last five years, you know how intense the graphics and audio can get. The kind of latency issues that are annoying to customers using a Google Apps or Microsoft BPOS deployment would render OnLive completely unusable.
But let’s give OnLive the benefit of the doubt and assume that they have a solution that circumvents the latency issues and provides a real, solid software-as-a-service product.
What does that mean?
The simple answer: Cloud service providers have no excuse for not providing five-nines uptime, and for latency issues, and for development and streaming issues. My father, who has a background in IT, always likes to say that video games drive innovation and the upgrade cycle: back in 1993, we upgraded our DOS machine with an extra 8MB of RAM for no other reason than to play “Doom.”
Moreover, in terms of community and brand building around an online service, I suspect Windows Azure would already be a household name if the Azure team walked down the hall to the Xbox Live team and took some pointers.
And if it doesn’t work? Well, maybe then it would be time to reevaluate what we think we know about cloud services, because if OnLive can’t deliver games, it doesn’t speak well to the industry’s prospects.