GungHo Online Entertainment Streamlines Log Management for its MMORPG Network Infrastructure with EventLog Analyzer
GungHo Online Entertainment (www.gungho.co.jp) plans, develops, operates, and distributes PC online games, games for smart phone (mobile phone game), and consumer games. GungHo was established in 1998 and launched its PC Online Division. It has been ten years since the release of their service for the flagship title, "Ragnarok Online". In addition to games, GungHo works on a multi-platform strategy by developing for various fields such as character goods, animation, CD, DVD and live event. Also, in recent years, GungHo plans, develops, operates and distributes smart phone games. GungHo's smart phone game app "Puzzle & Dragons" has attained the first place in sales ranking in AppStore and Google Play in Japan. OnSale was the predecessor of GungHo, and changed its company name to "GungHo Online Entertainment" in August, 2002.
GungHo's core business is its online game service business, especially it's hosting of Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game (MMORPG) 'Ragnarok Online'. For five years in a row this online game was ranked as having the most users according to the Oricon Customer Satisfaction Ranking, with the number of simultaneous connected users exceeding 100,000! The company also provides services for other popular online games such as 'Emil Chronicle Online', 'Toy Wars' , etc. all of which requires 24x365 non-stop service availability and monitoring. Any service degradation should be identified and resolved in real-time, since an 'out-of-service' situation due to a network failure will lead to drastic drop in number of active members for their online gaming business.
In the past, GungHo's System Operations Department were using the log management tool leased by their network device vendor to collect and manage the continuous stream of log data generated by several dozens of network devices like firewalls, switches, routers, etc. "Though this log management tool could collect and store the logs generated by all the network devices in a centralized location, it didn't provide a fully functional and usable graphical user interface (GUI). It couldn't categorize the received logs and lacked functions to sort, search and generate graphs from the logs," said Akihito Ozawa, System Management Division, System Operation Department, Online Head Office of Gungho. "During network incidents, we had to download and do a manual search of all the logs to identify the root-cause, and this was very time consuming given the nature of our complex infrastructure."
Considering the difficulties the System Operations Department was facing with the network device vendor supplied log management tool, they made a decision not to renew the lease contract. “We had the option to continue the lease contract, but in order to improve the quality of our service for online games, we made a judgmental decision that it was necessary to review the log management tool for network device,” said Ozawa. With the termination of lease it became absolutely important for the department to select and implement a new log management solution that should meet all their critical requirements.
GungHo ‘s System Operations Department set few essential criteria for the selection of a new log management solution:
GungHo was also particular that it should not be an appliance-based solution, but a software solution that can be installed on a Linux machine. After evaluating many vendors their search for a log management solution led them to EventLog Analyzer from ManageEngine, the IT Management division of Zoho Corp. EventLog Analyzer satisfied all of GungHo’s mandatory requirements and became a strong favorite within GungHo ‘s System Operations Department. “When I was picking up information on log management tools by various vendors, Zoho’s ManageEngine EventLog Analyzer was suggested within the office. In the past, we had implemented Zoho’s server and network monitoring software, ManageEngine OpManager, for our fee charging system, which made EventLog Analyzer the favorite in our selection criteria,” said Satoshi Miyauchi, Head of System Management Division, System Operation Department, Online Head Office of Gungho. “Also, while comparing capability to cost, EventLog Analyzer offered the best value for money and could be implemented at half the cost of other major log management vendors”
The availability of a fully functional free trial was a decisive factor for selecting EventLog Analyzer. “With the lease period of the previous log management tool set to expire, there was a necessity to finish verification immediately and start collecting log data. Under this circumstance, the trial version with full-feature’s gave a boost for the implementation of EventLog Analyzer. We straight away implemented this trial version in our real/production environment, and conducted test operations as part of verification,” said Akihito Ozawa.
Nonetheless, in general, straightaway implementing a trial version of a product in real environment is considered a huge risk. As for this concern, Satoshi Miyauchi said “We already had a record of implementing, the server and network monitoring tool, ManageEngine OpManager by Zoho (Japan) and there was no room for doubt on ManageEngine products’ reliability including support handling. In reality, even when a trouble occurred during verification using the trial version, support representatives gave us solutions politely so that we could solve the problem smoothly.”
After a successful trial, GungHo started full-scale operation of EventLog Analyzer in February 2012. GungHo made a seamless transition from trial version of the product to licensed version just by switching the license to purchased version, before the expiry of the trial period. “We had no trouble with the product right from the beginning up to this time, EventLog Analyzer helped us to efficiently collect and manage log data from all our network devices and systems,” said Ozawa.
After implementation of a log management solution, it is generally perceived that for networks generating large amount of log data, the IT departments management load would increase substantially. However, Miyauchi says he is not worried. “EventLog Analyzer manages and visualizes various logs in a unified dashboard view, which means determination of significance is easy and we can narrow down to the correct log source. After implementation, we re-configured our network devices so that only highly important log would be output from the array of logs these network devices can generate. If by any chance we face network failure, we can now identify problems and quickly determine the root cause in real-time.”
With the confidence gained from their implementation of EventLog Analyzer for the MMORG network, GungHo has drawn up plans to implement EventLog Analyzer for their Fee Charging Systems. “In future, combining EventLog Analyzer with OpManager, which has been already implemented in our fee charging system, would enable us to do live monitoring of the network devices deployed in our fee charging system,” said Miyauchi.