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Various insider sources revealed earlier this week that Crunchyroll had begun to relocate its hosting infrastructure from its San Francisco headquarters to an unspecified location in western Russia.
When questioned about the move, Crunchyroll confirmed that it had begun to make changes in order to “improve the sustainability of the platform”. An exact address was not provided, although Crunchyroll did reveal that the new site would be in an apartment complex located in the outskirts of Volgograd, a major industrial city south of Moscow. Servers will be staffed by a small team of locally-sourced Slavic technicians, who will squat in the apartments providing 24-hour support.
The operation appears to be the result of a decision made by the parent company, Ellation, to de-emphasize the Crunchyroll platform in favor of newer projects such as VRV. Steps were already taken last year, when Ellation began discharging employees and outsourcing development to Moldova, one of the poorest nations in Europe.
Industry experts estimate that the move will reduce Crunchyroll’s server upkeep costs by over half. Video streams could be expected to freeze every two or three episodes after the move, much like the performance of the current site.
Crunchyroll stood by their decision stating that the move gives the company more flexibility and allows the site continue to be offered at affordable rates to subscribers. The company also claimed that maintenance times should be drastically shortened after the move. When the servers encounter an issue, a California Crunchyroll staff member can simply notify the Russian apartments where a technician will tab out of his game of Counter-Strike in order to reset the servers.
The decision reflects what many online companies go through when attempting to handle increased web traffic and changing market dynamics. When questioned if the video player would also be changed from using Flash so that users would no longer receive security warnings from their browser when attempting to play videos, Crunchyroll provided no further comment and a large man in an Adidas jacket escorted us from the building.