When you operate some 300 websites serving 2 million visitors a day, guaranteeing your users a consistently positive experience has to be one of your highest priorities. That’s the challenge faced by Fairfax Media, a multiplatform media company with properties in Australia and New Zealand. Prominent among them are the Sydney Morning Herald, Australia’s leading newspaper, and its associated website SMH.com.au as well as several newspapers in New Zealand and the news site Stuff.co.nz.

Keeping up with the online times

As a 180-year-old media company with roots in print publishing, Fairfax Media has had to work hard to keep up with the online times. “Fairfax is on the cusp of transformation,” says Cheesun Choong, the company’s head of product platforms. “Everything is going digital, which means that we are constantly building more digital products, and we are becoming more and more aware of the fact that we need to do software and technology really well to survive in the media space.”

Fairfax Media has partnered with New Relic since 2012, leveraging New Relic APM to gain insight into its operations and Alerts to notify engineers of conditions that need attention. In the years since the company’s initial deployment, though, Fairfax Media has adopted additional New Relic products to meet a variety of needs.

Christopher van Dal

Christopher van Dal, Fairfax DevOps Engineer

For example, Fairfax Media relies on New Relic Synthetics to make sure its new digital products perform up to the company’s standards and provide the experience its readers have come to expect. “With New Relic Synthetics, we can identify a user journey to simulate the user’s process of browsing to one of our corporate websites, navigating throughout the site, and ensuring that we get a desired result,” says Christopher van Dal, a Fairfax DevOps Engineer. “It lets us make sure that our external-facing websites are being presented the way we expect them to be to the end user.”

In addition to monitoring the customer experience, Fairfax also uses Synthetics to monitor the performance of its sites before they’re launched. “We use New Relic Synthetics to monitor some of our preproduction websites, so that the developers can get some insight into load times and other resources that the website is consuming,” van Dal explains.

Taking care of the most important customers

New Relic Insights, meanwhile, helps Fairfax Media make sure its most significant customers are getting the experience they expect. The company is working to break up its applications into microservices, and “Insights helps us understand which parts of the sites need to be targeted for breaking down based on which are serving really important customers, have very high volume, or have no relationship to the rest of the service,” says Choong. “New Relic shows us who is using the site, what they are doing, which users are the highest-volume users, and more. It allows developers to really connect to the customers.”

As van Dal puts it, “Without New Relic it would be extremely difficult for us to monitor, maintain, and share information to ensure that we can provide a fantastic service to our end users.”

Learn more about Fairfax Media and New Relic

To find out more about Fairfax Media, watch the short video below and read the full case study here.


Sydney Opera House image courtesy of Shutterstock.com.


Jake Widman is a San Francisco-based freelance technology and science writer, covering everything from big data to quantum physics. He's a regular contributor to Computerworld, CMO.com, and Photoshop User. View posts by .

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