Andre Reitenbach is CEO at G-Core. International expert on cloud, edge technologies and cybersecurity topics.
Businesses on the right track are regularly looking to expand into new regions or countries. According to the results of a survey we conducted at G-Core in partnership with Censuswide British research agency, 78% of respondents from game companies were planning to enter new markets. But new markets mean new challenges. Before digitally scaling to reach new customers, you must ensure the technical, legal and financial considerations of your systems are all taken into account.
When setting infrastructure up for expansion and scalability, many companies look to cloud or hybrid infrastructures as a cornerstone. Here are seven things to bear in mind.
1. Choose the right cloud provider.
The global shift toward cloud infrastructure is well documented. According to research results from Foundry, “69% of organizations have accelerated their cloud migration over the past 12 months, and the percentage of companies with most or all IT infrastructure in the cloud is expected to leap from 41% today to 63% in the next 18 months.”
But due to its complexity, migrating to the cloud can be seen as a hurdle. Potential risk factors include crashes and data loss, financial expenses and time costs. Make sure you select a provider that can manage this process on top of having the capabilities and infrastructure you’ll need. Things to look for are a robust test migration process (including unlimited testing) and a cloud built with the right APIs to support migration, such as RESTful.
2. Prepare for an increased workload.
You always need to ensure your IT is robust enough to handle traffic spikes, but when scaling up your business, you need to recalculate the server workload to track this moving target. Needing to regularly readjust is why cloud servers are now so common, as they can scale to your needs. G-Core’s 2020 survey results showed that 63% of surveyed game companies used public or hybrid clouds to handle peak loads and traffic. Cloud servers can upgrade your server capacity on both a long-term and ad hoc basis.
For permanent increases, cloud providers can allow you to easily improve your core servers, with certain providers even offering access to bare-metal servers. One of the real strengths of cloud services, however, is managing the increased workload on a short-term basis, as it offers the flexibility to keep the main load on dedicated servers and connect virtual machines during load spikes. This agile infrastructure is far more robust than most on-site servers and often the most cost-effective way to manage server workload, as you only pay for the extra capacity when required.
3. Ensure you meet regional legal and compliance requirements.
When expanding into new markets, ensuring you meet local compliance and legal requirements can be challenging. Data protection laws worldwide are becoming more complex, and keeping tabs on legislation between countries can be challenging. For example, the cross-border transfer of user data in the European market can be problematic without the right infrastructure due to the four-year-old GDPR. Other regional compliance programs include IRAP (Australia), G-Cloud (U.K.) and FERPA (U.S.). Processing data in local clouds can go a long way to meeting requirements, as it removes the need to transfer data internationally.
4. Minimize response speed.
Expanding your business reach can’t come at the expense of performance. When we surveyed gaming businesses on their concerns over entering new markets, 38% cited internet connectivity and speed as major concerns. Regardless of your vertical, slow response times damage businesses: E-commerce, gaming and media all suffer dramatically if the response time is any longer than three seconds. To make sure you stay ahead, ensure your content delivery network (CDN) can compete.
Check the leading providers with tools like CDNPerf to compare performance in the region(s) you’re expanding into. Also, ensure your CDN provider has points of presence in the same regions your users are located (this improves response speed). If not, you could use a multi-CDN to cover all the regions needed.
5. Increase data volume.
As businesses grow and expand, the volume of data they have to deal with increases. This raises several challenges—most notably how to store the data as well as analyze and process it. Cloud (or hybrid) storage is a good option for the former, offering fast access to data with greater scalability and cost-effectiveness than on-site storage.
In terms of analyzing these increasingly large data pools, machine learning is becoming invaluable for processing that data and turning it into value. Although integrating artificial intelligence (AI) into the business can be intimidating, particularly for small businesses, ready-made platforms that give you access to the architecture and expertise needed to roll out AI are now available, making it more achievable than ever.
6. Protect your business from DDoS attacks and malicious bots.
Naturally, cybersecurity is a crucial consideration from day one of any business, but as you expand and look to adapt your infrastructure, the potential risk grows too. Our survey results showed that 46% of gaming companies see increased denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks as one of the main challenges for expanding into new markets. Indeed, DDoS attacks are becoming increasingly common and, as such, organizations are making security a priority. In fact, 69% of businesses are increasing their cybersecurity budgets in 2022, according to Enterprise Strategy Group’s findings. Having the latest DDoS protection is nonnegotiable: Ensure either you or your cloud provider are constantly improving your tech stack for DDoS and malicious bot protection.
7. Enable disaster recovery.
If the worst does happen, every business needs strong disaster recovery (DR) procedures in place. This is another area in which the cloud has changed the landscape. Recovery is the primary business driver for cloud computing, as it can eliminate the need for traditional infrastructure and significantly increase recovery time at a lower cost than traditional DR. Cloud platforms can create an online backup that’s faster, safer and less resource-intensive than an offline backup.
When planning the expansion of your online business into a new market, be sure to secure a high-quality cloud IT infrastructure. Don’t forget to make certain that it complies with local legislation, can withstand any load and offers cyber protection.