Xbox One cloud servers could reboot in mid-session if they are updated

Microsoft has hyped up the cloud server features that will be used by the Xbox One, including unlimited cloud storage for save games and other items. It will also be used by game developers to help them create more advanced AI and larger game worlds. However, it looks like there's going to be a  downside for using the cloud more extensively.

An article on IGameResponsibly, reporting from this week's GDC Next conference in Los Angeles, quotes Microsoft's Xbox Live lead program manager John Bruno as saying:

Once in a while, rather frequently actually, the host OS will require an update, meaning the physical machine is going to get rebooted, whether your code is running or not. That’s a problematic thing for a game, and is oftentimes is in the middle of a multiplayer session. We’ve worked very hard to overcome that, but that’s not to say it’s going to be a reality in every case.

At least two Xbox One games will be using Microsoft's cloud servers extensively: the launch title "Forza Motorsport 5" and "Titanfall", which is scheduled for release in March 2014. It would certainly be an issue if Microsoft pushed a cloud server update that would interrupt a multiplayer session for both games.

Bruno also stated during the conference session that the cloud platform for the Xbox One made for game developers is called Xbox Live Compute. It's based on Windows Azure but has been modified for the Xbox One console and has been in development for 18 months.

Source: IGameResponsibly via VG247.com | Image via Microsoft

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49 Comments

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This is silly, if I so wish I can update and reboot my servers during office hours, they are cluster members and as such it is perfectly OK.
You really think a single non-redundant physical server is responsible for anything important in an enterprise environment?

With Windows Azure, which I believe Microsoft is using for managing Xbox Live, applications and virtual machines are given a shutdown / stopping event that they can listen for. From that point that they receive the event notification, they have 5 minutes to offload or move the work they were doing to other nodes before they are forcibly shutdown (Source: http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-u.../windowsazure/hh543978.aspx).

A lot can be done in the 5 minute window. The server node could contact another server outside of the update pool, and notify each console where the new host is going to be at, then continue the game from there all while players not noticing its happening in the background.

But this is opposed to peer to peer with one xbox being the host and the game having to migrate, which happens a hell of a lot!

also, i get the impression of missing context from the quote.

Another reason for me to get a PS4 .... keep it comng Microsoft. Reboots right in the middle of a multiplayer game is really bad, especially if your doing so well.

illage3 said,
Another reason for me to get a PS4 .... keep it comng Microsoft. Reboots right in the middle of a multiplayer game is really bad, especially if your doing so well.

nowhere is it said that your console will reboot, Jesus!

duddit2 said,

nowhere is it said that your console will reboot, Jesus!

Nowhere did I state it was the console that was rebooting. Jesus

illage3 said,

Nowhere did I state it was the console that was rebooting. Jesus

Yeah but you failed to read all the previous comments explaining how a single server being rebooted doesn't affect a service - the word is redundancy - all server farms employ it. It's nothing new.

illage3 said,

Nowhere did I state it was the console that was rebooting. Jesus.

Sensationalism strikes again. You're not going to be playing a game on one single server that will go down. If a server has to restart your session will get handed off or the system will wait until all sessions are over and restart when none are active. In any game where you play online you're liable to get booted, encounter lag, etc.

If you get a PS4, get it because you want it, not because you hate the other thing.

illage3 said,
Another reason for me to get a PS4 .... keep it comng Microsoft. Reboots right in the middle of a multiplayer game is really bad, especially if your doing so well.
breaking news PS4 will also prevent your power company from turning off during rolling brownouts too lol. no really I read it in the interwebz

Yeah it is stupid, MMO's go down for updates for a while. Eve-online goes down for 1 hour everyday, even if it the server does go down for a reboot its not like itll be doing it all the time, prolly like for 1 hour a week or whenever it needs patching which will prolly be a lot at first while they iron out there multiplayer code so it should be expected and its also the most stupidest thing to single out the X1 cus PS4's online servers as is the same as every server out there may go down for an update so the article is stupid and pointless.

Well this is being overblown somewhat.

For games like (say) CoD which use it for MP servers, it won't be an issue. Each node in the cloud will stop accepting new connections and reboot when ready. What this is saying is that in certain instances where the game's code can't be easily separated out, things might get interrupted. So when one server serves a few game clients at a time, it won't be an issue, but if you use hundreds of servers at once as one giant computer (say for a virutal world), you might have issues.

None of this is anything new, it's the difference between playing a traditional MP game like CS, where a server might go down but you'll just get directed to another, and playing an MMO where ALL servers must come down for patching and maintenance.

thought the whole point of cloud was the fact it's distributed.. aka clustered... aka one node reboots you don't lose crap because another active node immediately handles the request while the other node restarts....

Cloud != distributed.

There are a variety of ways to do "cloud" base applications and fully distributed is only one of many. Being able to do it properly depends on the problem at hand. Multiplayer gaming is one of those problems that a fully disturbed cloud architecture can't help...

A real-time game is best served by one server otherwise you'll need to keep multiple servers in sync in real-time which is very hard to do and a waste of resources.

Will this happen often? Doubtful, but it is possible.

p1p3 said,
But from what we know about Microsoft and the products they have we can be fairly sure that even if the have one server per game it can be live migrated between physical servers without downtime. For example: http://technet.microsoft.com/p.../ff715313%28v=ws.10%29.aspx

EDIT: And for patching the virtual servers there are many other solutions that has been proposed in the comments.

Live Migration isn't really helpful when you're updating the guest OS... Live Migration is useful to move the VM when the physical host is down, but that isn't the issue when the guest OS has to be patched...

Either way, I wasn't saying this would be a problem. Just more that neofuse's blanket statement isn't something you can say about all "cloud" based things.

LogicalApex said,

Live Migration isn't really helpful when you're updating the guest OS... Live Migration is useful to move the VM when the physical host is down, but that isn't the issue when the guest OS has to be patched...

Either way, I wasn't saying this would be a problem. Just more that neofuse's blanket statement isn't something you can say about all "cloud" based things.

Also Live Migration (unless it has improved a hell of a lot in the last few years) isn't really seamless. Connected clients would get massive lag and probably even get disconnected.

This is the dumbest thing I've read today. Here's how the patching will go.

1) new patch is released to servers which will download and queue it for install and reboot.
2) no new matches/connections will be allowed to connect to a server with a pending update.
3) once all of the matches/sessions have ended on this server, it will install the patches and reboot.
4) once the server comes back up and is fully patched, it will allow new connections.

This is how its been done for YEARS people! You will not get disconnected from an active server.

Ughhhh.... Internet....

Drewidian said,
This is the dumbest thing I've read today. Here's how the patching will go.

1) new patch is released to servers which will download and queue it for install and reboot.
2) no new matches/connections will be allowed to connect to a server with a pending update.
3) once all of the matches/sessions have ended on this server, it will install the patches and reboot.
4) once the server comes back up and is fully patched, it will allow new connections.

This is how its been done for YEARS people! You will not get disconnected from an active server.

Ughhhh.... Internet....

+1

basically MS was trying to explain developers how to design their cloud services to avoid interruptions due to server updates, and somehow, journalists manage to interpret it as "there will be interruptions".

god, why are journalists so tech illiterate?

Drewidian said,
This is the dumbest thing I've read today. Here's how the patching will go.

1) new patch is released to servers which will download and queue it for install and reboot.
2) no new matches/connections will be allowed to connect to a server with a pending update.
3) once all of the matches/sessions have ended on this server, it will install the patches and reboot.
4) once the server comes back up and is fully patched, it will allow new connections.

This is how its been done for YEARS people! You will not get disconnected from an active server.

Ughhhh.... Internet....

THIS! Why was this not in the news story? A basic description of how server updates work is a no brainer.

Your post should be included in the news story above as an update to be quite honest.

sanke1 said,
...and the bad news just keeps on pouring equally on both the consoles.

there is a bad news here? or just misunderstanding and sony fanboys jumping into the circlejerk?

sanke1 said,
...and the bad news just keeps on pouring equally on both the consoles.

The only bad thing in this article is that proper time was not spent explaining that this is no different than any other server. Users of those servers are not impacted, and users of XBox One won't be affected either...

agreed, rebooting a single node in their cloud infrastructure is very unlikely to cause the entire service to go down. Unless I am wrong this is using the Azure cloud so this would be happening to the current users which would find a better service if this was happening.

"Xbox One consoles could reboot in mid-session if Microsoft updates cloud servers."

This is totally incorrect. The host OS needs patching on the cloud infrastructure. So the physical server hosting that OS will reboot. This won't result in the Xbox One console rebooting, just the host of the cloud parts.

tomwarren said,
"Xbox One consoles could reboot in mid-session if Microsoft updates cloud servers."

This is totally incorrect. The host OS needs patching on the cloud infrastructure. So the physical server hosting that OS will reboot. This won't result in the Xbox One console rebooting, just the host of the cloud parts.

Wouldn't that then result in the multiplayer game being interrupted? Or would it "only" be the cloud-generated content?

XorpiZ said,

Wouldn't that then result in the multiplayer game being interrupted? Or would it "only" be the cloud-generated content?

Honestly it should not affect anything. In a cluster environment, you reboot each host one at a time or in batches that will not cause any interruption. I mean how many large hosting companies reboot their servers for patches? Probably every single one but they are all clustered and they know what to reboot so it won't affect any customer. I think this story is sensationalism at best to get people riled up about the Xbox One. It should never be an issue.

XorpiZ said,

Wouldn't that then result in the multiplayer game being interrupted? Or would it "only" be the cloud-generated content?

Not if you quiesce the node before doing the update but sometimes you get uncooperative code and just have to boot it off.

Well if the front end is working together with the backend than you have a point where you have the down side somewhere - the point where the new backend and the new frontend will have to communicate the first time with each other.

-adrian- said,
Well if the front end is working together with the backend than you have a point where you have the down side somewhere - the point where the new backend and the new frontend will have to communicate the first time with each other.

What you do is transfer state from the old node to the new one and then tell the front end to connect to the new one right as you do a final sync. The most likely point of failure is the game code not handling the switch smoothly.

Servers will not restart all at once and they have fault-tolerance features, so it's unlikely this will interrupt a gaming session.

Thanks,

tomwarren said,
"Xbox One consoles could reboot in mid-session if Microsoft updates cloud servers."

This is totally incorrect. The host OS needs patching on the cloud infrastructure. So the physical server hosting that OS will reboot. This won't result in the Xbox One console rebooting, just the host of the cloud parts.


You beat me to the punch. This is a typical John Callaham misleading title/statements. He made two already yesterday, like claiming HTC will sell cheaper phones (which is untrue). He started early today it seems.

Martog said,

Honestly it should not affect anything. In a cluster environment, you reboot each host one at a time or in batches that will not cause any interruption. I mean how many large hosting companies reboot their servers for patches? Probably every single one but they are all clustered and they know what to reboot so it won't affect any customer. I think this story is sensationalism at best to get people riled up about the Xbox One. It should never be an issue.

Exactly. This is no different than any other server that requires a reboot... Doing so doesn't impact the users of those servers, and won't here either. lol

M_Lyons10 said,

Exactly. This is no different than any other server that requires a reboot... Doing so doesn't impact the users of those servers, and won't here either. lol


IGN literally has thousands of replies where they believe it's the console that would be rebooted lol. I thought this was just a John Callaham misinterpretation until I read it elsewhere.

link8506 said,

because you never apply security updates on linux?

are you working for sony or what?


http://www.theregister.co.uk/2...01/24/sony_psn_breach_fine/
"An ICO investigation concluded that the database raid could have been prevented if Sony had applied the latest security patches to its systems' software"

Yup and even linux servers need to be rebooted every now and again for updates to take effect (eg updating libc libraries). My current server runs a ton on 512MB ram and it has an uptime of almost 60 days.

AWilliams87 said,

IGN literally has thousands of replies where they believe it's the console that would be rebooted lol. I thought this was just a John Callaham misinterpretation until I read it elsewhere.

Dear God! LMAO