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Real-world Gaming and Why Edge Computing Matters

Daniel Sim •

Pokemón Go is taking over society…and that’s probably an understatement. Every day we see viral photos and videos of people hunched down on their phones trying to catch ‘em all – Pokemóns, of course – virtual creatures with odd-sounding names.

The app is so huge that it has overtaken the number of Twitter users in the United States, according to this article from The Guardian. It has also caused a stampede in New York City’s Central Park as a horde rushed to “catch” a rare Pokemón named Vaporeon.

For those not in the know, Pokemón Go has been dubbed as a real-world game wherein users try to “catch” Pokemóns in the streets using their smartphones. It uses your location smartphone features to project Pokemóns in your backyard, your office or even along the route of your daily commute.

Clearly this Pokemón Go craze is just the beginning as the app has yet to officially launch in other countries, particularly in Asia. Yet, despite its lack of global presence, Niantic – Pokemón Go’s creators – servers are already bearing the brunt of this huge surge of demand for this interactive game. Server crashes, hacking and other disruptions are already being reported, causing irate Pokemón Go users to vent their frustration, where else? On the internet. But that’s not the only concern. Reports of hacking have brought to light issues of privacy as the app uses geotagging to help users locate Pokemón wherever they are.

According to this article from Datacenter Dynamics, Pokemón Go servers are likely hosted on the Google Cloud Platform, which is unable to handle the high number of users causing disruptions in its services. While this is all speculation at the moment, it is clear that the phenomenon of Pokemón Go brings to light the growing importance of edge computing and its critical role in maintaining uptime and security as the idea of real-world gaming becomes a reality.

In the case of Pokemón Go, the app collects significant amount of data – location, player movement and internet connectivity. Moreover, it syncs to your Google account, meaning it also has access to your Google data – that’s a huge amount of information being obtained and processed by the game servers. In addition, it is also exploiting your smartphone capabilities, such as camera and location.

This is the perfect scenario where edge computing becomes critical. Edge computing is closely tied to the whole idea of the Internet of Things. Edge computing enables IoT in that it supports the notion of connected everything – such as that of Pokemón Go. Moving away from core data centers, edge – or neighborhood data centers – reduces latency and enhances overall performance, vastly improving the delivery of digital services. By optimizing and future-proofing edge data centers, apps like Pokemón Go can reduce server crashes and users can enjoy hunting for Pokemón without any hitches.

Yet, as this e-book from Vertiv suggests, many organizations are still struggling with the idea of edge computing. Should they invest in edge data centers? What infrastructure should they deploy?

The starting point for any edge strategy should involve an understanding of what the business needs to deliver to its customers, and therefore what IT needs to deliver to its customers the lines of business. A strong edge strategy will give organizations the critical advantage. In the case of Pokemón Go, hopefully this will solve server and privacy issues and bring the app to a global audience.

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