“NovoServe Custom-Engineered the Hosting for Our Cloud Gaming Operations”

Roman Noze, co-founder and CTO Simplay

Introduction

Request: High-End Engineered, Cloud-Gaming Aligned Hosting Setup

Israeli cloud gaming startup Simplay has developed a unique real-time streaming technology to provide a flawless, low latency cloud-based gaming experience to end- users. For an optimal engineering design of the underlying hardware environment, Simplay selected IaaS hosting provider NovoServe to establish a lab environment in one of NovoServe’s company-owned data centers in the Netherlands. NovoServe’s engineers then helped Simplay find the best performing hardware solution for their proprietary cloud gaming technology and R&D demand.

Simplay started its operations in Tel Aviv, Israel in stealth mode early 2017. The founders of this cloud gaming technology startup, CEO Gil Tov-ly and CTO Roman Noze, passionate gamers themselves, at first took their time for Research & Development and optimizing their software to achieve real-time, low latency streaming for video games. At the same time Simplay gained access to an accelerator program. They then managed to create their market-ready cloud gaming technology, called Shift, able to operate at the GPU level for both capture (server side) and render (client side) - for zero visible latency results.

About

More details about this case

Client industry Cloud gaming

Reach Europe

Location Tel Aviv, Israel

Website www.simplay.io

Founded 2017

Size Startup

Client focus Gamers across Europe, B2B gaming studios

I don’t think there are many hosting companies that are able and willing to provide custom engineering services and personal communication such as delivered by NovoServe - especially not for a startup cloud gaming company like Simplay at the early stage of its go-to-market journey.

Roman Noze

Co-founder and CTO Simplay

Solution

Cloud Gaming R&D Requirements

As a cloud gaming startup, Simplay initially deployed their lab environment with one of the world’s largest IaaS hosting providers, but Simplay’s R&D team required more flexibility and cooperative engineering support from their hosting infrastructure supplier. They expected their hosting partner to think along with them and strengthen their own R&D efforts. The underlying hardware infrastructure also had to be delivered against more cost-effective price levels to make Simplay’s cloud gaming offering interesting enough to stand out from the competition.

“It was in the 4 th quarter of 2017 that we decided to be ready for the next-stage development of our beta cloud gaming product,” said Roman Noze, co-founder and CTO of Simplay. “We finally wished to open it to the world, to real users, but our experience with this large IaaS hosting provider was pretty much frustrating. Basically no one at this company talked to us, while communication with our hosting partner is of fundamental importance for a gaming technology startup like us. Also, support tickets were usually not solved according to our satisfaction. So we were seeking a hosting provider that would be much more customer oriented and really willing to communicate with us.”

Experimental Engineering Efforts

NovoServe’s company-owned data centers in the Netherlands and its cross-border Netherlands/Germany network backbone with low latency European reach matched Simplay’s ambitions to not only setup a new lab environment but also operationally bring their cloud gaming product to end-users across Europe.

“The hosting infrastructure had to be a bit cheaper than with our previous provider to support a more cost-efficient business model for Simplay,” added Mr. Noze. “The solutions delivered by NovoServe were not a little bit cheaper though, they were way cheaper. It was totally crazy. And they were willing to go the extra mile for us in terms of meeting our custom engineering requirements. We wanted to experiment with the hardware infrastructure to find the optimal configuration for our cloud gaming technology. The previous provider had some fixed inventory of servers and hardware that they could provide, but NovoServe was willing to reach out to their suppliers and order really specialized hardware with specific requirements for us. With NovoServe we were able to have an upgrade from an older CPU model to the latest architecture of NVIDIA for example, the Tesla P40.”

Low Latency Reach Across Europe

The hardware environment NovoServe has provided to Simplay initially served their cloud gaming test lab – to find an optimal engineered configuration for the company’s proprietary cloud gaming technology. Later on the same hosting configuration became their cloud gaming operational infrastructure. A game and device agnostic platform, Simplay’s offering provides remote devices with real-time game streaming for whichever game that’s being played on the cloud platform.

Simplay was focused on reaching cloud gaming players in the Netherlands, Germany, UK and France from NovoServe’s data center in Doetinchem, the Netherlands. “Most of the well-known games have been tested on our NovoServe-powered cloud gaming platform and the experience is very, very good,” added Mr. Noze. “Also, NovoServe’s support is great. There is always someone to talk to and the not so many issues were solved quickly.”

Cost-Effective, Powerful Hosting

The Simplay CTO especially appreciates NovoServe’s willingness to operate as a valuable extension of their own R&D engineering capabilities. “We had multiple Skype and emailing sessions to come up with the best hosting infrastructure design that suited our specific cloud gaming use case,” added Mr. Noze. “We suffered some issues on the storage side for example, storage was a bottleneck. NovoServe helped us out with that. Their engineers were deploying different testing environments until we found the right storage setup that was a perfect fit for our cloud gaming needs.”

“This is a big advantage with NovoServe, they basically just custom-built our whole hosting environment,” added Mr. Noze. “Any request, any question…you name it. We had some ideas on how we could change our cloud gaming infrastructure, to make it cheaper and more powerful at the same time. We had various strange requests with NovoServe, like: let’s try AMD consumer cards. NovoServe went to its suppliers and bought an AMD consumer card, just for our lab tests. I don’t think there are many hosting companies that are able and willing to provide custom services and personal communication such as delivered by NovoServe - especially not for a startup company such as Simplay at the early stage of its go-to-market journey.”

Business Model, Gaming Studios

After launching the game-agnostic Simplay cloud gaming solution, Simplay successfully provided thousands of gamers across Europe with a low latency gaming experience. It was mid 2018 when Simplay decided to switch to a B2B model and start offering a browser-based client instead of a Windows client.

“At some point it became clear that our cloud gaming business model was super difficult to scale,” added Mr. Noze. “We would have needed to invest tremendous amounts of resources that we don’t have to make an end-user focused business model profitable. That’s why at a certain point we decided to transform our business model and aim our technology and services at gaming studios with up to 100 or 250 developers.”

Client Request
  • Hosting services in Europe which include dedicated servers, high-end CPU- power, storage and network equipment, network bandwidth, and managed services
  • Network coverage across Europe matching demanding requirements set by cloud gaming operations
  • A hosting setup optimized for low latency and high throughput
  • Extensive hardware customization opportunities with highly specialized hardware as an option
  • Expert engineering capabilities to effectively support a cloud gaming R&D testing environment
  • Very competitive hosting solution price levels, to create a profitable cloud gaming product
IaaS Hosting Solutions Delivered

NovoServe’s engineers have deployed a very cost-effective, client-specific dedicated server and network setup that meets the demanding requirements of Simplay’s cloud gaming operations. To help Simplay with its R&D efforts and allow the company to experiment with the hardware and configuration, NovoServe established a cloud gaming test lab in its company-owned data center in Doetinchem, the Netherlands. After conducting a wide variety of tests with different hosting infrastructure setups including a cloud gaming aligned storage solution, Simplay managed to find an optimal engineered configuration for its their proprietary cloud gaming technology called Shift. Later on, the hosting configuration was combined with NovoServe’s European network backbone. This became Simplay’s operational infrastructure offering gamers across Europe a low latency cloud gaming experience.