The Best Dow Jones Case Study
A division of News Corp., Dow Jones is a global provider of news and business information, delivering content to consumers and organizations around the world in multiple formats, including print, digital, mobile and live events. Dow Jones has produced quality content for over 130 years and today has one of the world’s largest news gathering operations globally. It produces leading publications and products, including its flagship Wall Street Journal, the largest newspaper in the United States by payment circulation: Barron, MarketWatch, Financial News, Factiva, Dow Jones Risk & Compliance and Dow Jones Newswires.
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Using AWS helps Dow Jones become more agile in developing revenue-generating products. Thanks to AWS, we now create more products and spend less time running a data center. Our total product development speed has increased by at least 30 percent.”
Chief Information Officer and Global Chief Technology Officer, Dow Jones
Investors use Dow Jones to learn about what is happening in financial markets around the world. “Our mission is to shed light on the dark corners of the world, focusing on the news that affects decision-making,” says Stephen Orban, Chief Information Officer and Global Chief Technology Officer. The company has state-of-the-art technology to keep its customers as up-to-date as possible on the latest news.
In Asia, around 12.8 million people use WSJ.com, which generates around 90 million page views each month. When its Asian data center lease ran out in early 2013, the company needed to find an alternative that would help its developers focus more on revenue-generating applications rather than data center maintenance. Dow Jones also wanted to reduce latency for its Asia-based customers, and wanted to avoid delays in hardware acquisition and configuration. “My preference is for my team to create products rather than run data centers, says Orban. “Now that the data center is a commodity, that’s exactly what they can do.”
Why Amazon Web Services
Dow Jones chose AWS because it helps enable the company to improve time to market for its products. “Our applications depended on a particular database version,” Orban says, ” and a lot of redirection logic was done on a hardware load balancer. All non-AWS software we use works on Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2), allowing you to lift and change, and work on optimizing your environment in the future.”
It took the company about six weeks to move from its Hong Kong data center to AWS. The product WSJ.com running on AWS Tokyo leverages multiple Availability Zones on Amazon EC2 instances to run Dow Jones application code and Oracle databases. Elastic Load Balancing instances are used to route application traffic between services, third-party load balancers to balance user traffic, and WAN accelerators to improve database replication. Dow Jones also uses Amazon CloudWatch, AWS Identity and Access Management (Amazon IAM), and Amazon Virtual Private Cloud (Amazon VPC).
The company also uses AWS for DJ Chat, an internal application that allows registered users to chat with each other. The app includes content sharing and video conferencing. The company plans to launch DJ Chat within its customer-facing products in the coming months.
Dow Jones is now running all of its Asia traffic via AWS. “Using AWS helps Dow Jones become more agile in developing revenue-generating products,” Orban says. “Thanks to AWS, we now create more products and spend less time running a data center. Our total product development speed has increased by at least 30 percent.”
Orban anticipates further improvements to come. “Network connectivity to Asia via the Internet is not always optimal,” he says, and high latency or packet loss can lead to intermittent application problems and outdated content. Involving resources to isolate those types of issues takes a lot of time and distracts from creating new features. Hardware failures and upgrading are a challenge to manage remotely. Using AWS frees us from most of this burden.”
The company has also achieved cost savings of 25 percent, more than $ 40,000 per year, over the cost of renting a data center, and the savings will continue every year they use AWS. “We will never have to upgrade the hardware. That constitutes significant savings for Dow Jones, ” says Orban.
“Using AWS gives us the freedom to be agile,” Orban continues. “Why would I want to spend my time learning how to operate a Hadoop database or cluster when I can have predictable costs in the AWS cloud and avoid unnecessary operational responsibilities?”
In the future, the company plans to expand the number of AWS-powered applications it offers in its products. DJ Chat, which will launch later this year, accounts for tens of thousands of messages a day and has thousands of users connected at any given time. In addition, Dow Jones is working on a content personalization algorithm to run on AWS and creating analytics tools to suggest content and trending topics to customers who may be interested.
Culture change and cloud migration are allowing Dow Jones to take more risks. “Designing for high availability in the discrete data center is difficult-it leads to very complex designs and heavy processes, which tends to make people risk-averse. Using AWS makes it much easier to design for availability. It is also a relief not to worry about capacity concerns, which are almost impossible to predict for new products.”