Subspace: Rapidly Triage Performance Issues to Deliver a Real-time Gaming Experience

Jul 1, 2020

The world of online gaming is a serious business. Billions of dollars in revenue from game sales, subscriptions, merchandising, and movie rights are at stake, not to mention the millions in prize money doled out at e-sports competitions. Serious and not-so-serious players around the globe are constantly logged in for engaging, addictive, and highly competitive game play in virtual worlds. They expect hyper-connected, realtime experiences from their gaming applications, and the primary technical driver for that experience requires a relentless focus on minimizing latency. In the world of gaming #SpeedWins.

The biggest multiplayer games in the world use Subspace to create the most engaging and competitive online experience possible for their gamers. The cloud infrastructure operated by Subspace offers ultra-low latency and reliability, thereby delivering a multi-player online gaming experience that is “how the speed of light should feel.”

With the real-time nature of our platform, low latency is a critical factor for us. Linkerd helps our team do rapid triage. With it, we can detect and correct performance issues faster. Linkerd is so lightweight that the minimal latency it adds is completely overshadowed by the latency it reduces through observability.

— William King, CEO

Challenge

So why would an organization that is completely devoted to shaving microseconds off of service requests adopt a service mesh? William King, co-founder and CTO of Subspace, says the adoption of a service mesh might seem counterintuitive to anyone striving for low latency, but Subspace’s use of Linkerd was strategic: it actually reduced total latency. King said Subspace first noticed Linkerd when the company was looking to bring Kubernetes into a new environment. “We wondered if we could make an entire service portable and simplify the process of migration.” It was a conceptual exploration, and in validating whether Kubernetes could be useful in and of itself, King and his team realized that they needed a service mesh to reach their technical production goals.

Solution

Linkerd gives Subspace improved observability into the performance of key services in its system and whether the platform is operating optimally overall. “Linkerd helps our team do rapid triage,” King continues. “With it, we can detect and correct performance issues faster. Linkerd is so lightweight that the minimal latency it adds is completely overshadowed by the latency it reduces through observability.”

In short, using Linkered gives Subspace a large net positive on operational outcomes.

Interestingly, Linkerd wasn’t Subspace’s first service mesh. “We tried Istio first,” explained King. “We found Linkerd to be usefully specific in terms of the set of features we needed, and at the same time, it’s not overly opinionated.” So, King and his team made the decision to switch to Linkerd. “Linkerd was functional for us in under two hours” from the time they started deploying it. For Subspace, Linkered is simple to use, operates with minimal overhead, and, with its composable architecture, offers flexibility to accommodate changes in the future.

“Our world at Subspace is all about delivering the best performance for gaming, and everyday our most important job is making smart choices about the pieces of our stack that will give us the best performance in terms of speed, reliability and scalability. Our decision to use Linkered has paid off.”

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