We haven't gotten much of a look at Blizzard's server architecture, but here's a tiny one: AT&T has announced in a press release that they're re-signing to a two year agreement to provide Blizzard with hosting for World of Warcraft and Battle.net. We'll get the joke out of the way first: that explains why Blizzard's sites go down so often! Ba-dump ching!
But seriously, the press release says AT&T has been working with Blizzard on providing bandwidth and network monitoring for nine years already, and that they have multiple "Internet Data Centers" that provide global support of the network infrastructure that lets your character wander around Azeroth. AT&T isn't the only company Blizzard works with -- while their network provides the connections and bandwidth, the actual coding and the databases behind all of the action in WoW are another story, and Blizzard likely works with multiple big companies to make sure that all runs smoothly. AT&T provides the cables, but someone's got to help provide the servers and the code they're hooked up to.
Still, despite the jokes about the downtime, it's quite a feat. We're still interested in hearing more about the mechanics behind the World of Warcraft. Unfortunately, lots of this information is probably a trade secret at this point -- even if no other MMOs are coming close to WoW's numbers, Blizzard has probably come up with a lot of techniques they don't exactly want known to the public. But a look inside one of these "IDCs" or an idea of just what machines they're using to run a realm of WoW would be intriguing.