Case Study

WGT Golf Gains Full Operational Visibility Into Game Performance With Splunk Light

Executive Summary

Based in San Francisco, WGT Media (WGT) is an innovative sports gaming and media company with over 20 million players worldwide across online, social and mobile platforms. Its flagship product, WGT Golf (www.WGT.com), is the #1 free golf game on web and mobile with over 450 million virtual rounds played. WGT needed to index critical system logs in order to see anomalies and gain operational visibility into its application performance, especially after new releases. Since deploying Splunk Light, WGT has seen benefits including: 

  • Full visibility into application performance with proactive monitoring
  • Enhanced customer experience
  • Time savings and enhanced revenue stream
SPLUNK PRODUCTS
Challenges
    • Lack of centralized monitoring
    • Needed to quickly identify root cause of errors
    • Small team with limited resources
    • Wanted operational visibility to improve customer satisfaction
Business Impact
    • Improved operational visibility
    • Deep insight into application performance with centralized monitoring and alerting
    • Reduction in errors and ability to quickly identify and resolve issues
    • Improved root cause determination
Data Sources
    • Data from all applications and application servers
    • Windows servers and logs
    • Systems logs
    • Security and firewall logs
    • Networking logs
    • Load balancer logs

Why Splunk

WGT’s games combine both 2D and 3D technologies to create the world's most photo-realistic online golf gaming experience, with highly interactive multi-player game play. Specifically, WGT Golf features 24 famous virtual golf courses including Merion, Pebble Beach® and St Andrews. In order to maintain uptime and ensure customer satisfaction, WGT needed to monitor its mission-critical applications, as well as game infrastructure, the network load and the overall gaming environment. WGT needed full visibility into every aspect of its application release cycle to sift through the vast volume of log data pouring in from multiple sources.  

According to Homan Lee, director of information systems and technology, WGT, “We’ve been aware of and amazed by all the capabilities of the full Splunk platform since our inception. However, as an emerging company, we are conscious of our resources, so when Splunk Light came along, it seemed like the best solution to meet our log viewing, analysis and budgetary needs. Splunk Light gives us confidence in our systems and the knowledge that we can quickly address any issue that arises. We are now able to isolate the specific logs that we need to monitor in order to identify particular errors.”

Full operational visibility into application performance

WGT implemented Splunk Light across all of its application and web servers for application performance management, as well as improved DevOps collaboration. According to Lee, “My IT team is small—only three people. But thanks to Splunk Light, our engineering group can now proactively review and analyze data from the production environments as well as the test and development environments to look for specific errors or fundamental changes—whether in real time or historically.”  This improved visibility into system logs and the easy accessibility of the data in easy-to-use Splunk dashboards has had a positive impact on the overall customer experience and has helped drive revenue.  

Setting up proactive alerts in Splunk Light has enabled WGT’s Engineering Release and Deploy team to monitor the development process and compare the pre- and post-deployment environments. Specifically, the team uses Splunk Light to validate whether or not there are particular issues post-deployment.  Global alerts allow the team to get notifications on spikes or errors on particular application servers. The alerts are also tied into network log-in errors and changes in load balance. Lee notes, “It’s great to have this level of visibility into performance. The key thing with Splunk Light is that it offloads a lot of administrative concerns. We no longer have to manually review logs and have a more proactive approach of automated monitoring and alerting.” 

Problem analysis and resolution improves customer experience

With Splunk Light, WGT has gained real-time insight into customer behavior within the game and been able to optimize certain features. Most importantly, the team can now proactively detect and troubleshoot errors that could impact game play—before customers are affected.

Lee concludes, “At the end of the day, it’s all about the user experience and how best we can support that. Being able to offload certain things onto Splunk Light saves us significant time. We can use it to easily detect anomalies or problems with the site. It has become a key technical resource at WGT. Next up, we are planning to see how we could expand the use of Splunk Light into a security context.”

“At the end of the day, it’s all about the user experience and how best we can support that. Being able to offload certain things onto Splunk Light saves us significant time. We can use it to easily detect anomalies or problems with the site. It has become a key technical resource at WGT.” 



Homan Lee
Director IS&T WGT,
a Topgolf Media Company