“Whether you win or lose with smartphone game apps is really determined from the launch of the service. In addition to making an interesting product, you have to maintain server-side performance, availability, and security that form the infrastructure of the game at a high-level,” says Masaru Oyamada, a Producer in Square Enix’s Business Division X.
RISE of MANA, Mr. Oyamada’s mobile project, is the latest in a series that started in 1991 with the action RPG Mana 1st (FINAL FANTASY Adventure). His team adopted Microsoft's cloud platform, Microsoft Azure, as the foundation for the iPhone (iOS) version that began distribution in Japan in March 2014. The Android version launched in June, and reached 1 million users by August. The business model for this app is known as “free-to-play,” which allows users to download and play the game for free, but may charge for certain items within the application.
“Because the content is essentially free, if the usability and performance of a free-to-play game aren’t up to snuff, users will stop playing,” says Mr. Oyamada. “We went with Microsoft Azure because we were looking for high-speed communication and sustained stability even when the game servers receive a large number of access requests and their workload spikes.”
Square Enix is globally renowned and boasts many games in Japan and overseas that bear its name. It is for this reason the servers for its online games are prone to becoming targets, so the company needed to ensure robust security for the Azure platform that supports RISE of MANA.
To ensure the security of RISE of MANA, Square Enix turned to the cloud service vendor FIXER for the actual implementation of the security measures. FIXER has a rich track record of building and running Azure systems, and it provides a total management service called “cloud.config” that includes Azure implementation support, and round-the-clock, year-round operation monitoring -an advantage based on the knowhow the company has accumulated and the technology it has developed through its activities. The company has long been involved in Square Enix game projects and has previously provided Azure implementation and operation services. Based on this track record, to support RISE of MANA, FIXER has been providing a service that singlehandedly covers aspects of the cloud implementation, including Azure platform construction, server operation, management, and monitoring.
For the RISE of MANA platform, FIXER implemented a security solution based on Trend Micro™ Deep Security™ called “Deep Security provided by cloud.config.”
Eisuke Sakuhara, General Manager at FIXER’s Enterprise Cloud Unit, explains the background to the implementation of this solution as follows:
“Azure has robust, guaranteed security as a platform. However, it is essential to use tools such as Deep Security to deal with attacks at the application level such as intrusion and tampering that can occur through legitimate channels.”
Mr. Sakuhara also explains the benefits of using Deep Security: “Deep Security is easy to customize, and it has the advantage of allowing multi-level protection with a single product. It also automatically deals with server auto-scale on a cloud platform. These characteristics provide efficient security and increase cost-performance, and these strengths are unique to Deep Security.”
The platform for RISE of MANA is composed of a system that includes a reverse proxy server, game servers, and a platform server. Of these, the game servers and platform server have databases running behind them, and Deep Security Agent has been installed on these servers to provide multi-level protection -including intrusion detection and prevention, antivirus measures, firewall, file integrity monitoring, security log inspection, and other such protections- through a single management console called Deep Security Manager. By doing so, the company maintains a high level of security around important information such as billing details. They have also successfully implemented the streamlining and automation of security and monitoring, such as vulnerability measures and network monitoring.
Updates for RISE of MANA are also frequently released, including a weekly release of new functions. “Due to this frequency, performing security checks on every aspect of service before the release is not possible, and it’s essential to maintain statistical information about what kind of attacks against the services happen and when. We then use figures that indicate threat trends to preempt attacks,” says Mr. Sakuhara. In order to fulfill this mission, the functions of Deep Security and information from Trend Micro are very valuable.
However, for Mr. Oyamada from Square Enix, the most important thing is to develop and grow the RISE of MANA business. As such, no matter how important ensuring and improving security is, he badly wants to avoid losses in development speed and app performance due to security measures. It’s also important to avoid being forced to incur costs that squeeze business. The security solution provided by FIXER meets these demands, and provides excellent efficiency and cost-performance.
Says Mr. Oyamada: “We’re able to thoroughly protect the security of RISE of MANA without incurring any disadvantages to our business. And in that sense, I feel that Deep Security was the right answer for us.”