Life in the Cloud

I mentioned back in August that the SWTOR devs were gearing up to move the servers from their own proprietary hardware to Amazon Web Services, starting with the French server The Leviathan. That move seemed to go down without any major issues, as they continued to transfer both Darth Malgus and the German server Tulak Hord together two weeks later.

When a guildie asked me ahead of the transition whether I had any more details on how the move had gone for the Leviathan, I checked the forums and could barely see any mention of the topic, even on the French sub-forums. I think in the end I saw something like two posts saying that their ping had improved, and one complaining that it had got worse, but ultimately I took the overall silence on the subject as good news.

And indeed, when Darth Malgus came up again after the maintenance accompanying the move, I didn't notice any difference to my gameplay. I'm not someone who routinely watches her ping, so I couldn't tell you whether it's technically better or worse, but the fact that I couldn't immediately notice any kind of difference was good enough for me.

Things weren't quite all right yet however, as the server started to have issues only two days later, mostly characterised by weird lag and an inability to transfer between different areas. I noticed it myself when I was queueing for GSF and the group finder got stuck at "building match" (which is usually a status that's only a few seconds long, after the system has found enough players and just before you get your pop-up) without actually creating one. The server ultimately had to be taken down for a few hours of emergency maintenance, but after that whatever had been causing the issues seemed to be fixed.

Finally, a little more than two weeks later, the two American servers, Star Forge and Satele Shan, made the move as well. The Aussies immediately asked whether this meant that they could get their new local server too now, but Community Manager Jackie replied that there's still more work to do behind the scenes before this option can be looked at. We also learned that contrary to my previous hope, they did not decide to move Satele Shan back to the American west coast, so both it and Star Forge both remain located on the east coast.

Last week OotiniCast did a poll on Twitter to ask people about their experience with the move, and the result was that 67% of players who voted felt that nothing had changed, 22% voted that playing on their server felt better after the move, and 11% said that it felt worse. I think that can be considered a success.

I voted for "no change" myself, because aside from that one hiccup shortly after the move, I haven't really had any issues. There was one slightly odd occasion when I was doing heroics and found that clicking on the heroic quick travel from my mission tracking UI did nothing, but opening it from my inventory worked... I was grouped at the time and another person in the group said they were experiencing the same. Not sure if that was related to the move, but it's something I never experienced before and it was somewhat reminiscent of the zoning issues people experienced before the emergency maintenance, so it might have been related? However, even if it was, it was one tiny blip that barely inconvenienced me in weeks of playing.

All in all, if you find yourself wondering "How did that whole move to Amazon's cloud servers go?" the answer is that it seems to have gone well, mostly because people have had relatively little to say about it.

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