leverages a private cloud strategy to scale for a global community achieves scalability on private cloud, enabling smooth gaming experiences for its 150 million+ users around the world. logo Industry Media & Entertainment Challenge

Scale an online gaming platform cost-effectively by expanding from a private data center into a private cloud platform.

Solutions Private Cloud Platforms Google Cloud, RackConnect Global

Our customer plays host to more than ten million chess games daily. Dedicated to serving chess players and fans worldwide, has seen consistent growth in its community of 150-plus million users and has become the number one platform for people engaged in and passionate about one of the world’s oldest and most popular games.

“Our mission is to serve chess, and to nurture the game’s growth and the bonds it forges between people everywhere,” said James Kelty, Head of Infrastructure at “Our focus on chess runs deep and is reflected in every aspect of our company."

Kelty, who has a lifelong passion for chess and was taught how to play by his grandfather, is responsible for expanding and creating a stable IT infrastructure that encompasses public cloud, on-premises solutions, and the vital connections required to deliver daily joy to users worldwide.

"By providing a digital version of chess, the company has been able to reach a more global audience, bringing together players from different regions of the world,” said Kelty. “The platform also allows for variants of chess, such as Bughouse, which fosters a sense of community and expands the game."

“RackConnect Global streamlines's ability to scale Google Cloud Platform utilization for our infrastructure overflow needs.”
James Kelty, Head of Infrastructure,
Woman typing in her computer

The obstacles they faced offers an intuitive user interface that is easy to navigate, so even novice players can easily find their way around. The site makes top-level chess content highly accessible, providing high-quality video streaming through tutorial videos on its platform as well as through grandmaster live streams broadcast on Twitch. A matchmaking system facilitates games between players of all levels, from novice to expert. The result is a smooth user experience for accessing and viewing games and instructional content.

In 2007, when the team was deciding how to host its online offering, private clouds were just starting to emerge as a hosting option for technology companies. Up to that point, most companies ran applications in their on-premises data centers. While on-premises provided predictable workloads and costs, companies had to manage the infrastructure themselves.

"Our slow, but steady, growth allowed us to start with a single in-house data center that met our initial needs," said Kelty. "As our popularity grew, we expanded to a second data center. Then added public cloud to handle demand spikes and overages."

However, when the COVID-19 lockdowns began in 2020, people started seeking at-home activities, which led to a significant increase in traffic to the website. The release of the popular Netflix series "The Queen's Gambit" triggered another surge, as the game of chess gained exposure. An uptick in awareness of the World Chess Championship led to even more growth for the company, spurring new partnerships and a significant increase in user demand.

Man smiling looking to the camera and next to him two women

"With RackConnect Global helping us rapidly match inbound traffic spikes, we can ensure constantly smooth gameplay across our global community, wherever and whenever we need it."

James Kelty, Head of Infrastructure,
Woman and man looking at an agile board with sticky notes

How we helped

To handle its traffic spikes, leverages a hybrid public and private cloud model for cost-effective scalability. It maintains core capacity in a private cloud environment and offloads temporary traffic spikes to Google Cloud.

Typically, the spikes last for a few days before baseline traffic re-establishes at higher levels. This requires proactive planning by the in-house team, who can analyze Google Cloud traffic levels to determine infrastructure needs and plan adjustments accordingly to accommodate users.

"This includes expanding network or server capacity, adding new services or just deciding how to expand within the data centers," Kelty said. “We determine how to expand our on-premises infrastructure to manage growth. Some people use bare metal, others bring Kubernetes on-premises, which is what we've chosen to do. We have a nice pool of on-premises compute resources, and we also have infinite scale in the cloud, should we need it.”

To cost-effectively link its on-premises and cloud infrastructure, leverages RackConnect Global. This connects its data center to Google Cloud for scalable overflow capacity during traffic spikes. conducted network architecture reviews with the Rackspace Technology team to determine security awareness. It also pre-ordered equipment based on prescriptive recommendations from Rackspace Technology experts, based on their data center experience. Also, Rackspace Technology provided advisory support to shape's expandable data center buildouts over time. selected Google Cloud for its overflow cloud due to its leadership in Kubernetes, robust networking capabilities, global presence and its existing in-house Google Cloud expertise. For the core application, relies on its in-house development team to maintain and enhance the platform. routes global user traffic to its on-premises data centers, typically via Google Cloud or other ingress providers. As expands gameplay testing in new regions, traffic local to those areas is directed on-premises, informing future data center buildouts targeting reduced latency.

Low latency connectivity enables fairer chess gameplay by keeping both players on the same precise game clock. Also,'s chat and streaming integrations, especially with platforms like Twitch, require low latency to ensure viewers enjoy seamless experiences. Local data centers, essential in new regions, boost performance and uphold gameplay integrity, thereby, enriching the experience for the platform's expanding global audience.

What we achieved together

By using a mix of private cloud and public cloud, can scale cost-effectively to exceed audience needs and facilitate growth. Private cloud helps predict and control infrastructure costs by owning on-premises data centers and using a flexible public cloud for unexpected spikes in workloads. This fluid hybrid approach has enabled's continuing success.

“RackConnect Global streamlines's ability to scale Google Cloud utilization for our infrastructure overflow needs,” said Kelty.

Without that single-vendor relationship and RackConnect Global’s ability to provide rapid bandwidth expansion into Google Cloud, Kelty said would otherwise need to coordinate across multiple vendors and connections to achieve the same expansion flexibility.

"With RackConnect Global helping us rapidly match inbound traffic spikes, we can ensure smooth gameplay across our global community, wherever and whenever we need it," said Kelty. has also begun discussing data center expansion strategies with Rackspace Technology, which includes a plan for to phase in new data centers before their current resources reach full capacity.

As chess continues to entwine lives worldwide, the synergy between clouds symbolizes possibility — the connection players and fans have and can create regardless of their locations.

"When your mission is serving your community, decisions unfold naturally and very purposefully,” said Kelty. “By listening to our audience and safeguarding what makes this game sacred, we get to empower everybody who loves chess."

About Rackspace Technology

Rackspace Technology is a hybrid, multicloud solutions expert. We combine our expertise with the world’s leading technologies — across AI, applications, data and security — to deliver end-to-end solutions. We have a proven record of advising customers based on their business challenges, designing solutions that scale, building and managing those solutions, and optimizing returns into the future. 

As a global hybrid, multicloud technology services pioneer, we deliver innovative capabilities to help customers build new revenue streams, increase efficiency and create incredible experiences. Named a best place to work, year after year according to Fortune, Forbes and Glassdoor, we attract and develop world-class talent to deliver the best expertise to our customers. Everything we do is wrapped in Fanatical Experience® — our obsession with customer success that drives us to help each customer work faster, smarter and stay ahead of what’s next. 


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