#1 - 2012/11/13 08:57:00 PMLet me first start by establishing a little credibility. I have been in IT for 16 years, I work as a Data Center Solution Architect for a Fortune 500 outsourcing company. My background and specialization is around server and infrastructure technologies within data centers and transformative technologies (leading edge IT trends).
I started to play WOW just after launch, around December or January 2001. I have played at varying levels of dedication ranging from casual to hardcore raider.
Now for the topic I'd like to bring up. I have seen the Tuesday maintenance for as long as I have played the game and to this day, I just don't understand why an alternative approach to maintenance has yet to be identified. The blizzard customers pay for a service and when you pay for a service, you expect it to be available.
The Data Center technologies available around the initial development of the game are very different from technologies that exist today. We have seen the emergence of virtualization with tools like VMware and Citrix. We have seen Unix move forward with similar virtualization tech like the IBM AIX Logical Partitioning and the virtual I/o components. What these technologies have enabled architects to do is become more flexible with the availability of enterprise applications to the end user. Data is more flexible to be shared and load balanced as a result, thus eliminating the conventional maintenance requirements for older system architecture.
In today’s Data Center, applications are available 24/7 commonly with 99.99% availability requirements in terms of Service Levels. In some extreme cases, you will even see 99.999% which equates to just 5.26 minutes a year. With the availability we see from blizzard its closer to 95% availability (8 hours of downtime per week). This is completely unacceptable in today’s standards.
I would like to hear from Blizzard as to the reasoning behind this limitation in the Wow application framework that require such a sizeable downtime to the customer.
I don’t have much time to play these days, but when I do, it always seems like it’s during a maintenance window!
I understand why the maintenance is taking place, defrags, scanning, probably some purging at the DB level to clean up the DB structure and records. We all get that, but why do other MMO’s not have this same limitation? I have played Rift, Star Wars the Old Republic (too many more, those are just the ones I currently have accounts on) and these games may have a couple hours here and there but nothing even close to the service interruption we see on WOW.
If there are limitations within the environment that can’t be avoided, perhaps performing the maintenance at a time that has the least impact to customers? Each server has a time zone, instead of taking the servers down in the middle of the day, moving the downtime for a specific timezone to the lowest traffic time at 3am server time.
One item that I am overlooking completely is labor. If the reason for this maintenance is less technical in nature, simply to give the support team a break, that’s a different topic altogether. I’m all for keeping employees happy, but there are some happy mediums that can be struck to minimize the impact to the end user.