Zynga goes Hybrid Cloud with its zCloud (Goodbye, AWS!)

zynga zcloud hybrid cloudZynga, one of the leading social games networks, decides to go hybrid cloud by leaving Amazon Web Services (AWS) as a primary cloud service provider in its effort to maximize reliability and performance. A plausible move that is in-line with the current trend of businesses bringing back their data from public cloud to private cloud (check out this cloud computing infographic for the trend).

Indeed, Zynga didn’t go all the way to private cloud, though – it adopts hybrid cloud strategy. As reported by PC Advisor, Zynga has managed to host almost 80 percent of its active users at the end of 2011 on its zCloud hybrid cloud platform. To compare, 80 percent were hosted in Amazon public cloud (AWS) as of early 2011.

The move to zCloud allows Zynga to eliminate two of three servers – a huge improvement in efficiency.

Zynga went to the cloud as it can no longer handle demand on its own servers several years ago – the major cause: The popularity of Farmville – reach 10 million users in 6 weeks. Since then, Zynga launch all of its new games in the cloud; and as demand has become predictable, Zynga went back to on-premise servers.

How powerful is zCloud, anyway? Well, according to Allan, Zynga can get 1,000 servers deployed within 24 hours.

And here’s an interesting comment from Allan Leinwand, Zynga’s CTO for infrastructure, calling Amazon as a four-door sedan, whereas Zynga’s zCloud as a sports car:

“We love four-door sedans, but it’s a car that’s used for a lot of things — doing the shopping, moving the kids. I like to think of zCloud as the sports car built for the Le Mans of social gaming. It’s tuned for the track.”

Point well-taken, Allan!

Zynga will not leaving Amazon entirely, though… the company will continue to use Amazon in its hybrid cloud model and have no plan in the near future to reduce its dependence on AWS further. Zynga now consider AWS as a way to handle surge of traffic, not its primary cloud platform, offering Zynga much-need flexibility to keep their services top-notch.


Sure – zCloud seems to be powerful and reliable. However, I have my doubts regarding the move of businesses from public to private cloud – I’m not sure that the migration is purely for strategic purposes.

I got a hunch that one of the causes of the trend is due to the severe impacts of cloud outages and security issues related to public cloud provider – including AWS, who has experienced several major outages in the last 2 years.

What do you think? Is the move to private cloud the right decision taken by businesses having their data in public cloud?

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