Hi-Rez Ventures reduced exposure risk, trimmed 73% of unnecessary access, and improved IT productivity
Hi-Rez uses Twingate to supercharge remote access performance and upgrade security, allowing users to more easily work with sensitive assets in a demanding, bandwidth-intensive environment.
“Twingate had faster speeds than any other solution we evaluated. They make Zero Trust easy and our users love the experience.”
Director of Information Technology
Hi-Rez Ventures (formerly Hi-Rez Studios) is an industry-leading video game developer at the forefront of the free-to-play, games-as-a-service model. Hi-Rez’s games have been played by a global community of more than 70 million gamers on PC, mobile, and console devices.
Originally centered around their Atlanta, GA headquarters, Hi-Rez’s approximately 500-strong workforce is now distributed throughout the United States with teams from coast-to-coast. Bob Bousquet, Director of IT for Hi-Rez, and his team are responsible for supporting not only their own employees, but also contractors, partners and collaborators throughout the world.
As Hi-Rez’s workforce became increasingly distributed and the pandemic saw the company transition into a hybrid model of in-person and remote work, the need for remote access tools that could adapt to this change suddenly took on a new importance.
Hi-Rez’s team operates in a bandwidth-intensive environment. Like many gaming studios, Hi-Rez uses a software called Perforce to host anything from source code to large 3D artwork files and binaries. Users sync their devices with Perforce on a daily basis, and this can often entail large data transfers. According to Bousquet, “Speed is a big factor with our users.” About three-quarters of Hi-Rez’s VPN users are heavy users of the bandwidth-intensive Perforce, while others use the VPN for SSH and RDP to remotely access servers in development and production environments.
As their team scaled and moved remote, the Hi-Rez team quickly ran into product limitations and poor performance with their VPN from a commercial firewall provider. In short: their VPN couldn’t keep up with the pace of work. Because a significant portion of the Hi-Rez’s team relied on the VPN to get work done, any slow down meant hours of lost productivity each week per person.
Bousquet and his team knew their current VPN wouldn’t cut it, and started to look for a better solution.
After reviewing legacy VPN products like OpenVPN, Hi-Rez determined that traditional approaches to network architecture wouldn’t solve their performance and speed issues. They started looking beyond VPN solutions and began to seriously research Zero Trust Network Access (ZTNA) products.
While performance was important to Hi-Rez, it couldn’t come at the expense of security. Any new solution they implemented needed to be not just faster, but also more secure than their existing solution. Hi-Rez recognized that one key benefit of ZTNA is that it improves an organization's security posture. A true ZTNA solution needed to prevent lateral traffic across their network and limit their attack surface, while keeping pace with the speed of the Hi-Rez team.
In addition to both performance and security improvements, ease of use and deployment speed were important considerations for the Hi-Rez team.
After reviewing a number of both legacy VPN and ZTNA solutions, the team at Hi-Rez decided to go with Twingate.
Twingate’s unique architecture enabled the team at Hi-Rez to trim unnecessary access by over 73% compared to a monolithic VPN. This means significantly reduced risk for the org thanks to right-sized access and a significantly smaller attack surface for malicious actors to target.
Beyond security benefits, Twingate’s unique approach to network security delivered a significantly more performant remote access solution for the team at Hi-Rez. Combine this with Twingate’s best-in-class user experience, and end users were suddenly spending significantly less time waiting for data to be transferred, which in turn translated into better productivity for end users, and better productivity for administrators who historically had to field user complaints. “Twingate had faster speeds than any other solution we evaluated,” said Bousquet. “They make Zero Trust easy and our users love the experience.”
Performance & User Experience
Performance is one area where Twingate “really shined compared to other products we evaluated,” said Sean Everett, Senior Network Engineer. Hi-Rez’s VPN had a bandwidth limitation that capped out transfers at 300Mbps, and Twingate eliminated that bottleneck. In benchmarking tests conducted by Hi-Rez, Twingate outperformed all other solutions they evaluated.
While Perforce was the most prominent use case, a significant fraction of Hi-Rez’s users also used RDP to access machines in development and production environments. The nature of RDP means that the lower latency enabled by Twingate helps to ensure that user interactions with remote desktops are snappy and responsive.
“We had the goal of providing a better remote access experience to our users, and it turned out that Twingate really fit that bill,” said Bousquet.
Deployment & Admin Experience
Twingate is focused not only on ensuring that the end user experience is seamless, but that the experience of the administrators who do the work of deploying and maintaining Twingate each day is second-to-none.
Twingate’s simple deployment process led to a quick, phased rollout, especially when compared to the other ZTNA solutions Hi-Rez tested. Bousquet praised Twingate’s clean UI and remarked that “it was very simple to put Connectors where we wanted them in our network, and to put users into groups and assign them the appropriate permissions and security policies.”
From a security perspective, Hi-Rez appreciated how adopting Twingate allowed them to provision access permissions from a starting point of “deny all” and then to open up access for people on an as-needed basis. This was in contrast to the VPN approach of starting with everything open and then locking down access to resources that people didn’t need – an imposing task which can leave unwanted security holes and additional risk.
The Hi-Rez team was also impressed with Twingate support both during and post-deployment. “The Twingate team has been very responsive to our needs and helping us to resolve any support issues that arose,” said Everett.