News International gears up to move IT estate to AWS cloud

The CIO of the media organisation News International on the organisation's plans to move three quarters of its IT operations to the public cloud within two years.
Written by Nick Heath, Contributor

The media group News International – owner of the UK national newspapers The Times and The Sun – is moving the bulk of its IT operation to be run out of the AWS cloud.

The organisation decided to freeze the size of its in-house IT footprint in 2011 in favour of seeking additional efficiencies through virtualising workloads and using AWS public cloud services.

Chris Taylor, CIO at News International, told the Amazon Web Services Summit in London today the company had virtualised 90 per cent of operations in its IT estate and runs one fifth of its virtual machines — about 600 — on Amazon's cloud.

Taylor said that NI's Access Control System, which underpins the paywall system used by The Times and the system that will be used by The Sun from later this year, relies on AWS technology such as its EC2 compute service and its DynamoDB NoSQL database. News International runs two "mid-tier" EC2 instances and handles 45 million transactions a month through DynamoDB, which Taylor says provides an average response time of 40ms.

"It is substantially lower cost than running on-premise," he said.

NI relies on a range of other AWS technologies to serve different parts of its business, including Elastic Beanstalk, Relational Database Service and Virtual Private Cloud.

Taylor said that within two years the organisation planned for three-quarters of its IT operations to be run out of public cloud. He said NI is also in talks with AWS and SAP about how it will migrate its ERP system to the cloud.

AWS services will also play a role in helping News International extend the usability of the digitised version of its newspaper archive that stretches back 230 years to the start of The Times, he said.

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