Coping with success: Cloud Operations Platform UNICORN ease games growth pains and resulting customer disappointment?

Taming the cloud with UNICORN Cloud Operations Platform

In 2016, multi-cloud management and cloud cost optimization specialist RightScale surveyed 1,060 tech professionals across a broad cross-section of organizations about their adoption of cloud computing. The subsequent findings (detailed in their “State-of-the-Cloud” report here) were a key inspiration for UNICORN, an EU Horizon 2020 research and innovation project to facilitate the design and deployment of cloud applications and services, improving developers’ productivity by reducing cloud application design time via code annotations and blueprints for security. Although cloud deployment provides a powerful way to automate application and infrastructure management, developers have noted that hybrid deployments raise the complexity of monitoring and management across multiple clouds (according to the 2016 report, SMEs use up to six different clouds on average and one out of five SMEs manage deployments with more than 1000 virtual machines).

Key challenges and UNICORN

From a development perspective, designing secure software and ensuring customer data privacy is challenging enough, but resource scaling (“elasticity”) introduces yet another important cloud deployment issue to tackle as well. Several application management platforms claim to address these issues, including proprietary solutions like AWS CloudFormation and Oracle Exalogic (locking users to their specific providers) and open frameworks like CAMF and Juju (allowing users to choose their cloud provider, including AWS, Google Compute Cloud and Microsoft Azure). However, none of these solutions wholly resolve data protection and privacy concerns or provide the ability to manage the lifecycle of a cloud service distributed across multiple availability zones and/or cloud sites. Techniques to deal with elasticity properties covering resources, costs and quality are also not well-supported. Most significantly, these tools are designed to address cloud management issues after application development, delaying time-to-market and thus hitting especially SMEs and start-ups with smaller development teams hard. By reducing cloud application design time via code annotations and blueprints for security, UNICORN aims to solve all these cloud application and services issues for developers.

ProsocialLearn – a game development example

The Prosocial Learning Digital Game (PLDG) demonstrator is a cloud-based multiplayer game in which players (in particular school-age children) develop their social skills. The overall development process has highlighted several technical issues, including data volume handling, rapid scaling, security/authentication and compliance. Developer Redikod is using a modified version of Unity’s uMMORPG multiplayer game base for the PLDG demonstrator’s client and server. The game client and game server are running together in a docker container along with nginx to host the game client, specifically a WebGL build and nodejs server using expressjs for communication with the demonstrator’s external host server (running the central ProsocialLearn platform infrastructure) that controls the game lifecycle via voice chat using peerjs. One important barrier encountered with Unity is that it does not support secure web sockets, required by the developer to serve content via secure https. To work around this, Redikod included a plug-in with the WebGL build that changes all ws calls to wss calls. That does not work with the server though, so nginx has been used as a reverse proxy so the Unity server can use unsecure web sockets, but the client connects with secure ones. Redikod has also encountered issues with voice chat not having access to the ssl certificate used to serve secure web pages and services. Since the peerjs server cannot be served from the same location as the game is served, Redikod had to set-up a peerjs server on a separate web server. There are also some issues with getting peerjs and voice sensors to work simultaneously, especially in a push-to-talk environment. ‘ UNICORN-enhanced cloud computing applied to the PLDG demonstrator enabled a rapidly scalable, cost-effective IT infrastructure on demand, coping with rapidly growing user demand at different times and with enormous, fluid and constantly updated datasets by applying elasticity policies through annotations within the game’s source code, while satisfying particularly strict security needs with enforcement annotations, and privacy requirements via mechanisms that restrict data movement between different geographic regions.
Join the dev competition!

UNICORN has also launched a contest to test and validate the platform by developing software or use-cases using the UNICORN framework, with twelve selected SMEs and start-ups to each receive 10,000 EUR in funding. The submission deadline is 28 February – so learn more about UNICORN and the contest at unicorn-project.eu and apply now!

You can download the article here


Keep the contest applications coming!

UNICORN partners are in for a lot of work, as they continually receive applications for the validation contest.
At this moment, they are currently reviewing numerous applications from various SMEs and start-ups around Europe, their goal is to select just 12, that will each receive a 10,000 euros funding in order to test and validate UNICORNs product either using their own software or use-cases using the UNICORN framework.

But that’s just not only it! Winners will have access to the UNICORN platform and to all the resources needed for a successful validation including Cloud hosting services, and UNICORN training and examples, among others.

Moreover, they will be invited to participate in UNICORN training workshops, and their venture will be introduced to the Startup Europe entrepreneurial ecosystem.
Does all this sound good to you? then do not procrastinate! apply and join the competition and you might be one of the selected participants.

Deadline for applications is February the 28th 2019.

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UNICORN Validation contest for SMEs and start-ups: challenge yourself and explore business benefits with UNICORN

Are you developing in a multi-cloud environment? Have you experienced long hours or days that it takes to deploy your instances? Managing your services and ensuring security and privacy is your pain-point? Any other key issues you experience while designing, deploying and managing your software?

If so, UNICORN might have an answer for you ! Even more, NOW you can not only solve these problems for free, using the UNICORN platform, but also EARN money while doing so!

How? It is very simple – participate in UNICORN Validation competition, challenge yourself and find the answer to the difficulties your company faces!

UNICORN Competition

In December 2018 H2020 project UNICORN launched a contest to test and validate the UNICORN Cloud Operations Platform, The Contest is now open and ends on February 28.

It will allow the selected companies to receive 10,000 euro and to validate UNICORN between April and October 2019.  All you need to do is to fill in a short application form, explaining what products/services would you use on the UNICORN platform, providing some information about your company and letting us know what features of UNICORN you could test!

UNICORN consortium will choose 12 companies, which will receive 10,000 euro in addition to the personalised training on the usage of the platform. In addition, you will be invited to present your results in a plenary international event in November next year, as well as get personalised promotion of your company and your achieved results using UNICORN communication channels.

All start-ups and small and medium-sized companies that have experience in the development of cloud applications and DevOps methodology can aspire to this contest.

Already curious? Well, it only get’s better.. So what will UNICORN platform offer?

UNICORN benefits your business!

The UNICORN platform will allow you to configure, deploy and monitor, in an innovative way, applications in the cloud.

UNICORN’s offer lies around its three main propositions:

  • Simplifying the design, deployment and management of secure, privacy and elastic – by design – multi-cloud services by means of the development and design of libraries as well as the enabling of a continuous orchestration and automatic optimization of cloud services running on virtual instances or micro-execution containers.
  • Enabling software developers to design and develop secure and elastic applications through a cloud IDE plug-in that incorporates a set of software code annotations, validation and packaging tools
  • Eliminating source code vulnerabilities, providing continuous risk, cost and vulnerability assessment.

Wanna be first one to try these out? Then check How to apply below!

How to apply and how to find out more?

All information and UNICORN application form are available in the Contest page: http://unicorn-project.eu/index.php/contest/

Learn more about the UNICORN in our Basic Usage Guide: https://www.slideshare.net/ubigiannis/unicorn-platform-basic-usage-guide
All the details explained in the online documentation of UNICORN: https://unicorn-documentation.readthedocs.io/en/latest/



UNICORN Validation contest – the word is spreading!

From Scandinavia to Spain… The word is spreading – SMEs and start-ups offering their services in the multi-cloud environment (or planning to do it in the near future) are now offered to win 10.000 euro + have a chance to use UNICORN platform to that easier and faster + receive the professional guidance from UNICORN technical mentors!

All they need to do is to apply to the UNICORN Validation Contest before the end of February! Find out more information and APPLY HERE.

If you speak Spanish, you can also check what local media has to say about the Validation Contest: JUMP HERE

If you are in gaming industry, read more in Nordic Games Newsletter HERE!

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    UNICORN project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 731846. UNICORN project, is not, in any way, associated with or connected to the software company Unicorn Systems a.s. (or its affiliates), Id. No.: 251 10 853, residing at V Kapslovne 2767/2, Prague, established under the laws of the Czech Republic.

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