CeBIT 2013: Challenges with traditional hosting pushed Ninemsn to the Cloud

CeBIT 2013: Challenges with traditional hosting pushed Ninemsn to the Cloud

News site abandoned plans for the private Cloud after slow hosting negotiations

Ninemsn was originally going to be on a private Cloud for its relaunch last year, but the drawn out negotiation process with a provider led to adoption of the public Cloud.

Mi9 and ninemsn CTO, Damian Cronan, spelled out the transition from the private to public model during CeBIT 2013 in Sydney,

He said the original goal was to “refresh and reinvigorate” the brand.

“We wanted to do a 'green fields' approach with our infrastructure, and launch a new content management system to replace some of the more aging infrastructure we had in place,” he said.

While that was the scope of the challenge, Cronan admits that the plan needed to 'change as soon as the first shot was fired' following preparations in early 2012.

“We needed to respond in a fairly agile manner to circumstances as they unfolded,” he said.

At the time, Ninemsn was not considering a Cloud approach but a more traditional hosting, private Cloud arrangement.

However, what the team quickly discovered was that, despite their best intentions, those traditional hosting arrangements were not coming to fruition in a fast enough manner.

“We needed to move quickly and be up and running by September the same year, which gave us around nine months,” Cronan said.

Four months into the project, the reality was that those traditional hosting setups, ordering physical equipment, getting gear racked, setting it up and configuring it all was taking far too long.

“For us, it had to be much more responsive than that,” Cronan said.

At a crossroads

Despite the hurdles with the public Cloud route, Cronan said the team was committed to the September launch date and meeting it.

“Never letting a crisis go to waste, we got to what you would call the 'last responsible moment', a point in time where we needed to make a decision about the traditional hosting development,” he said.

It was at that point the team began to explore alternative arrangements.

“We turned to a very senior infrastructure engineer and gave him the corporate credit card to see what he could do with the public Cloud,” Cronan said.

Eight hours later, Cronan said the team had the basic infrastructure up across multiple datacentres.

“We did this in hours with a two man team which took a traditional hosting partner four months to not even get close to achieving the same outcome,” he said.

“The speed and agility by which we were able to make stuff happen was certainly revolutionary for us a digital media business, not to mention the attached cost saving benefits.”

Over the next few months, Cronan said the team worked on stabilising and refining the environment to the point where it was production ready.

“The launch was successful and much of our Cloud experience beyond September has been a continuation of that journey,” he said.

Patrick Budmar covers consumer and enterprise technology breaking news for IDG Communications. Follow Patrick on Twitter at @patrick_budmar.

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