Many noticed yesterday when they logged in that a slew of servers where getting their turn at a 24 hour down time for maintenance.  A few in my guild, my daughter included, were very disappointed at the loss of being able to play.  She just got to Northrend for the first time and is excited to get to 80.

The question was asked as to why these servers where down for 24 hours and why this set?

To answer that lets look at why this is happening.  Unless you have been living under a rock somewhere everyone is aware that Blizzards third expansion, Cataclysm, to World of Warcraft is in the works and more than likely going live around October.  This new expansion is adding lots of new features and expanding some things like phasing that we saw added to the game for Wrath.

New features means new demands on an already aging server infrastructure and code base.  Upgrades are inevitable and needed to make sure we have a smooth gaming experience.  To do this they have to take live servers offline to either upgrade software, hardware, network hardware (Oh I hope the Boston data center gets a much needed backbone upgrade!) or all the above.  A few weeks ago a slew of servers had their turn and now its my servers turn.

So the next question is. . Why these servers?

That is simple.  Batlegroups.  Huh?

Blizzard uses Battlegroups to divide servers up into groups.  The most visible use of these battlegroups is when you que for a Battle Ground.  You will be placed into a BG with people from other servers within your battlegroup.  Now with the inclusion of the new Looking for Group system you can enter an instance with someone from your battlegroup just like you did in BG’s.  But did you know that there is a reason behind the servers in a battlegroup?   Its not random, its about where the hardware that your server sits on is located.

Battlegroups are clusters of servers that all reside (presumably physically) on the same server hardware box at one location.  These locations are called datacenter’s.  For the US market Blizzard uses four datacenters spread across the country.  Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles and Seattle.  WoWWiki has a wonderful page showing the datacenter and battlegroup break down.

If you look at the list of today’s 24 hour downtime and compare it to the wowwiki list you will notice that it’s the Boston Datacenter’s turn for this downtime.  The Boston DC houses the Nightfall, Retaliation and Stormstrike battlegroup.  June 8th saw 24 maint for the Los Angeles datacenter while Chicago followed suit on 29th of June.  With today’s that leaves the Seattle DC left and all will be upgraded. . to this point.

This is a good thing.  As I told my daughter and guild mates, its better to have 24 hours down now than 2 to 3 days down due to issues that we have seen in the past during other expansion releases or major patch roll outs.

Personally I still hold hope that network bandwidth is increased to the ageing Boston DC.  Looking at another link on the wowwiki site you will notice that a good number of original servers are on the Boston DC.  West coast players, especially California, has a rather high ping traveling across the country to the Boston center.  Sure you can play on a LA or Seattle realm but for some of us the old servers are home.

So in the end 24 hours will give you time to. . .

  • Write a blog post
  • Reorganize your social media presence
  • Take out the trash for your wife
  • Work on your UI (once the other servers come back up)
  • Or just spend time with ones you love.

See you all soon Smile