There is one thought that hit my mind when I read again the news about the possible opening of the server side software of Lindenlabs: it would really, really nice to have regional datacenters at least. Ok, having the possibility to host the servers on your own would be even better, but at least this step would be really nice in addition to the two datacenters in the USA.
Why? Simple: physics at work. What we all dislike is the almighty lag. Though the internet has become very fast, the connections between the continents are very fast, too, they still cannot beat physics.
But how does the lag involve physics? Well, even if the internet is fast, the maximum speed data can be transferred theoretically is light speed (roughly 300.000 km/s). You cannot cross that border. This means, the longer your connection gets, the longer it takes for the data to reach you. That’s quite simple physics.
The time packets need in the network to reach their host is usually measured in milliseconds. When people play at LAN-parties they usually have ping times < 20 ms, so that’s a very good time. Of course, when the way of your connection is, let’s say, 10.000 kms long, the information alone needs about 0.033 seconds to reach it’s target – one way, roughly estimated, that’s still less than from Paris to San Francisco, for example and this still doesn’t take into account the latency that several routers are adding up on the way. Of course, this means also no satellites!
But when your customers come from many different countries it’s sooner or later better to have a regional data center in that region to give them better access to the data, which means less delay and a much smoother and faster experience. Since in the top 10 of the origin of the SL players 43.24% are coming from Europe (more than from the USA), the installation of such a regional data center would be the next logical step for LL to give customers better service.
I mean, when you look at other popular online games, they usually have one-two server locations in the USA (West- and East-coast), one in Europe and one in Asia. That’s exactly because of the physics I explained earlier, and that’s why I’d like to see the openings of those regional data centers. The company needs to move where its customers are.
Of course, when then again they are going to open up the server side part and you can host a simulator on your own, this would not be really necessary anymore. You just get a rental machine somewhere, where it’s near your customers, get it up running and that’s it. Well, we are going to see where the future leads us.