New York City is synonymous with many things, but perhaps nothing so much as the media industry. Virtually every block in midtown Manhattan—and more than a few in other parts of the metropolis—bristles with print, broadcast, and online media headquarters that serve demanding business and consumer audiences. In the city that never sleeps, “downtime” is a very bad word.
That’s why more than a dozen representatives of some of the best-known media brands in the world gathered this week at the W New York hotel for New Relic’s first Media Summit. There, technology leaders from major media corporations including Fox, NBCUniversal, Bloomberg, Dow Jones, Major League Soccer, The New York Times, Omnicom, Univision, and PBS gathered to discuss the challenge of making sure their websites are running on all cylinders, and to hear from technology leaders in their industry who are using best practices to make sure visitors to their sites are getting a consistently great user experience.
The day kicked off with a networking breakfast, followed by a presentation by Matthew Flaming, VP of site engineering and data services at New Relic, who told attendees about how the company’s services have evolved and scaled over the years. Flaming illustrated how a culture of continuing experimentation has evolved a product architecture that allows for change. The company, he said, is now making “dark deploys,” which lets it test new components at full load without affecting customers.
Going “All In” on New Relic at News Corp
Ramin Beheshti, head of enterprise technology at News Corp NA, and Paul Timmins, infrastructure architect at News Corp, described how their company was spun off in 2013 from Fox, and the challenges they faced in standardizing operations across many brands on three continents. “We had pockets of New Relic across brands,” Beheshti explained, and decided a year ago to go “all in.”
Ramin and Paul’s presentation about how News Corp uses New Relic generated a lot of lively discussion. One attendee said he puts New Relic in the basic toolbox for his developers to make sure it can be universally accessed—a strategy that met with general approval in the room.
Monitoring audio and video
Parker Edwards, an enterprise sales engineer at New Relic, showed off how the New Relic Software Analytics Cloud can be used to monitor video and audio on your website. The problem, Parker said, is that viewers often start to abandon online videos if they’re delayed more than two seconds—and the more popular a video, the greater the risk of problems.
New Relic’s solution, Parker said, can help track (among other things) differing performance between desktop and mobile players, and confirm that ads and audiovisual content are playing without errors. He added that New Relic’s QoS-based approach integrates well with existing video monitoring solutions and uses New Relic Insights and New Relic’s APIs to monitor data from customers’ video libraries.
Dow Jones embraces change
The event’s closing speaker was Milin Patel, head of DevOps at Dow Jones (a division of News Corp). Patel described how ops teams now have a larger impact on the way applications are designed and architected, just as manufacturability helps dictate design in hard goods. “Unless you have a collaboration between dev and ops,” Patel stated, “there’s no way you can have a smoothly changing architecture.”
And change is important to Dow Jones. As part of its spin-off from Fox, the company’s CTO mandated in 2012 that all applications would be built in the cloud. For the next two years, Patel said, Dow Jones dealt with an environment of twice-weekly build rollouts, manual governance processes, and wasted time for a dozen developers.
But in 2015 frontend apps moved to Dow Jones’ Platform-as-a-Service, with developers deploying code directly from Git with dozens of deploys a day. This year, he expects more than 100 deploys a day with more than 200 apps and stacks, with only one or two assigned DevOps team members required to keep things on track.
Just like New York City, the modern media business demands top performance 24 hours a day. The New Relic Media Summit offered media technology leaders a unique opportunity to learn and share best practices that help make that goal a reality.