Qube's hosting approach for virtual worlds makes Earthsim come true

Earthsim, a revolutionary new online world for the PC, is being hosted by Qube Networks, it was announced a few weeks ago. Based on NASA data, Earthsim uses the latest graphical features of your PC to present mini-documentaries and an amazing real-time, 3D screensaver to guide you through the sights of the Solar System.

Qube is hosting Earthsim using an innovative, new service designed for internet-based companies with highly variable bandwidth demands.

"Most graphically intense, immersive online experiences require huge amounts of internet bandwidth and centralised computing power to ensure the integrity of the experience," explained Tom Howard, Qube Network's chief technical director. "This can be expensive to deploy for start-up companies and we wanted to find a way to grow with these businesses."

"Like many online gaming applications and virtual environments, it is extremely difficult to predict the traffic profile and computational requirements of the system until it is under actual running load. With Earthsim, we realised at a very early stage that we had to go beyond the technical requirements and embrace the right financial model to support rapid expansion, as an integral function of the system's technical requirements. In the end, the answer was surprisingly easy. We simply offered the hosting for free, and increased our price for the IP Bandwidth."

By turning the traditional hosting model on its head, Qube Networks can easily track the rising bandwidth loads, and at defined trigger points, new servers are automatically powered up and available to handle the load. When the load drops off during 'quiet' times, then the servers are released from the load balancers and automatically powered down.

Mike Gott, Earthsim's Program Manager, said: "It is essential for us to have an online infrastructure that can cope with the demands that a fast growing, technology dependent business places upon it. Qube Network's Managed Hosting service provides us with confidence that our online infrastructure will be able to continue to scale to meet our needs. Qube Network's staff have been incredibly helpful and flexible in getting us set-up and running from their impressive central London data centre."